Packers top Vikings to earn date with 49ers


GREEN BAY, Wis. — Bookmakers thought the difference between Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder and Joe Webb was three points, as the line moved from Packers by 8 to Packers by 11 when it was announced Saturday night that Ponder was inactive because of an elbow injury.

But the wild-card round game between the Vikings and Packers wasn’t about the difference between Ponder and Webb.

It was about the difference between Aaron Rodgers and Webb.

Webb’s decision-making, accuracy and touch as a passer was pathetic in the first half. He threw some of the ugliest passes of the NFL season, putting balls in the dirt and 10 yards beyond receivers.

Rodgers, who came into the game with the highest postseason passer rating in history at 105.5, showed Webb how an All-Pro does it as the Packers built a 17-3 lead before halftime on their way to a 24-10 victory.

The Packers advance to play the 49ers at 7 p.m. Saturday in San Francisco in the divisional playoff round.

Rodgers put away the Vikings on the first series of the second half, throwing a screen pass to John Kuhn, who ran it in from the 9 for a 24-3 lead.

The play was made possible by a Vikings penalty, as they were called for 12 men on the field during a Mason Crosby field-goal attempt. On the next play, Kuhn scored.

Rodgers worked the two-minute drill before halftime masterfully, going 62 yards in five plays, the last of which was a handoff to Kuhn out of the shotgun for a 3-yard touchdown that put the Packers up by 14 with 38 seconds remaining.

The Packers took their first lead on a 9-yard DuJuan Harris run after an 11-play, 82-yard drive. Harris initially was ruled down inside the 1, but a challenge by Packers coach Mike McCarthy resulted in the call being overturned.

McCarthy kept the hot hand with decisions later in the half. On fourth-and-5 from the Vikings’ 34, McCarthy elected to pass up a 51-yard field-goal attempt from shaky Crosby. The Packers went for it, and Rodgers threw a short pass of about four yards to Greg Jennings. The receiver took the ball another 28 yards for a 32-yard gain to the Vikings’ 2.

The Packers couldn’t punch it in, but they did end up with a 20-yard Crosby field goal that gave them a 10-3 lead.

The Vikings offense never looked as good as it did on the first drive. They cut through the Packers defense pretty easily initially, moving 10 plays and 53 yards before settling for a 33-yard Blair Walsh field goal.

The drive was mostly Adrian Peterson, but Webb was responsible for the most important play of the series. On third-and-3, Webb faked a handoff, started left, ran into a roadblock and spun around to his right. Seventeen yards later, the Vikings had a first down.

Webb was much more dangerous with his feet than his arm. He was lucky he wasn’t intercepted on a third-down pass on Minnesota’s second possession. As he was being dragged down by Erik Walden, Webb threw up a popup that the Packers nearly picked off.

He put another one up for grabs in the second quarter and was called for intentional grounding.