x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

NFL wild-card playoffs: Packers coast to victory over Vikings

Minnesota lost Christian Ponder to injury before the match, then went on to lose 24-10 to Green Bay as the Packers set up a second round showdown with San Francisco.

Green Bay's John Kuhn celebrates his touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings.
Green Bay's John Kuhn celebrates his touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings.

The Green Bay Packers charged into the second round of the National Football League playoffs with a routine 24-10 win over a Minnesota Vikings team that was dealt a huge blow before the game even started.

Vikings starting quarterback Christian Ponder had a throwing session during warmups but was declared inactive with a bruised right elbow in a surprise announcement about 90 minutes before the NFC wild-card game began.

Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers completed 23-of-33 passes for 274 yards and one touchdown and the Packers stymied a Minnesota passing game that was forced to start quarterback Joe Webb, who had not attempted a pass in the 16-game regular season.

Without Ponder, the Vikings were a shadow of the team that edged Green Bay 37-34 in last week's regular season finale. Ponder was hurt during that game but finished with a career-high passer rating and three touchdowns.

The Packers move on to the second round on Jan. 12 when they visit the San Francisco 49ers.

Webb struggled to get the Vikings offense going despite a promising start which resulted in a field goal on Minnesota's first drive for an early 3-0 lead.

But a nine-yard touchdown run from DuJuan Harris, a 20-yard Mason Crosby field goal and two touchdowns from fullback John Kuhn, the second on a nine-yard pass from Rodgers, put the game out of reach.

Webb managed to take advantage of confusion in the Packers defense late in the fourth quarter, finding a wide open Michael Jenkins with a 50-yard touchdown pass that pulled the Vikings to within 14 points with under four minutes to play.

Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 199 yards last week, was held to 99 rushing yards on Saturday.

"Our defense played at a championship level, which you have to have in the postseason. Offensively, we've got some stuff to work on," Rodgers said afterwards.

"We doubled up at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half to make it a three-score game, but we have got to help our defense more and close out a team like that," he said.

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