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Rodgers at ease as Packers roll past Vikings 43-34

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

Aaron Rodgers began his 13th season as Green Bay’s starting quarterback by passing for 364 yards and four touchdowns as the Packers beat the Vikings 43-34.

Posted: Sep 13, 2020 6:59 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — After Green Bay won last season at Minnesota to clinch the division, Aaron Rodgers paused to take a video of some jubilant Packers fans still lingering in the stadium as he walked to the bus.

This victory over the Vikings was just as memorable, albeit barely audible.

Rodgers took full advantage of the young cornerbacks and the empty building in Minnesota, beginning his 13th season as Green Bay's starting quarterback by passing for 364 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Packers past the Vikings 43-34 on Sunday.

“It was one of the strangest experiences I’ve had in the NFL, being in a stadium like this to have memories of some really rocking times,” said Rodgers, who threw for only three scores over his first four visits to U.S. Bank Stadium.

Davante Adams thrived all over the field with a franchise-record-tying 14 catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard each reached the end zone, too, as Green Bay had its way with a Minnesota defense renovated this year out of salary-cap necessity as hefty new contracts were given to quarterback Kirk Cousins and running back Dalvin Cook.

“It was just locking in and tapping into getting ready to play here in front of zero thousand fans,” said Adams, who tied Don Hutson's mark from Nov. 22, 1942.

Aaron Jones rushed for 66 yards and a touchdown for the Packers, who posted their highest score against the Vikings since a 44-31 victory at the Metrodome on Oct. 27, 2013. This was the most points Minnesota has allowed since coach Mike Zimmer was hired in 2014.

“It’s not what we’re used to here. It’s not what we’re about here, and we’ve got to do everything we can do move on from this and improve drastically,” safety Harrison Smith said.

Cook rushed 12 times for 50 yards, two touchdowns and two 2-point conversions. Adam Thielen caught six passes for 110 yards, two scores and another 2-pointer, but Cousins underthrew him in the final minute of the first half. Jaire Alexander, who also recorded a safety on an untouched cornerback blitz in the second quarter, made the bobbling interception.

Then Rodgers hit Valdes-Scantling on a fade route up the right sideline with rookie Cameron Dantzler in position but too late to turn for the ball, a 45-yard touchdown that gave Green Bay a 22-7 lead with 11 seconds left in the first half.

NO PRESSURE

Surprised by his team's decision to draft quarterback Jordan Love in the first round, the 36-year-old Rodgers made it clear he's nowhere close to being done. He completed 32 of 44 passes, and several incompletions were throwaways when nobody was open.

Mike Hughes and Holton Hill were the top two cornerbacks for Minnesota, with the third-round draft pick Dantzler seeing plenty of action in a trio all age 23 or younger. Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander all departed during the offseason.

What didn't help the coverage was the absence of a pass rush, with two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Danielle Hunter on the mend with a reported neck injury and stalwart Everson Griffen now with Dallas after 10 seasons with the team. Newcomer Yannick Ngakoue was a nonfactor.

Ifaedi Odenigbo was the only one who even came close to disrupting a throw by Rodgers, who was sacked 12 times in the previous three full games he played at U.S. Bank Stadium. This was the first full game he played anywhere in Minnesota without being sacked.

Late in the third quarter, on third-and-5, without the usual jet-engine-level din to distract the offense, Rodgers saw Anthony Barr jump offside and pounced on the free play, hitting Valdes-Scantling for 39 yards to the 2, with Hughes defending.

“Just a different atmosphere,” Rodgers said. “This is a really tough place to play with the noise.”

QUIET OPENER

There may be no game in this building stranger than this one, one of the NFL's strongest rivalries staged without the always lively atmosphere created by these border-state fan bases. No fans were admitted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The echoes of referee whistles and coach and teammate claps, never audible in a normal circumstance, contributed to the soundtrack, along with the league-approved, prerecorded crowd noise. Just a smattering of jersey-clad fans strolled around outside before kickoff, with no live music or smoking meats along the mostly empty streets.

The Vikings locked arms in the end zone for a recorded performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black national anthem now being played across the NFL. Nine relatives of George Floyd, including three brothers and one sister, were then recognized on the video board as they gathered around the Gjallarhorn in the upper concourse. The symbol of Norse mythology, sounded by a celebrity guest before each Vikings game, was kept silent in honor of Floyd, the handcuffed Black man who died three miles from the stadium on May 25 when a white police officer pressed his knee against his neck for nearly eight minutes.

INJURY REPORT

Packers: RT Billy Turner (knee) didn't play, initially replaced by Elgton Jenkins. When LG Lucas Patrick (shoulder) was forced out in the second quarter, Jenkins moved back to his original spot and free agent addition Rick Wagner entered at RT. Then in the fourth quarter, RG Lane Taylor (knee) was taken off on a cart with what appeared to be a serious injury, bringing rookie Jon Runyan in. ... DT Kenny Clark (groin) was hurt in the second quarter during Alexander's interception and didn't return. His backup, Montravius Adams, was also inactive (toe), so Kingsley Keke entered at DE and Tyler Lancaster slid over to the nose.

Vikings: Hunter's absence ended his streak of 82 straight appearances, including postseason games, since he was a healthy scratch in the first month of his rookie year.

UP NEXT

Packers: Host Detroit next Sunday.

Vikings: At Indianapolis next Sunday.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 446380

Reported Deaths: 5995
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin927471474
Ramsey39820736
Dakota32876338
Anoka30877363
Washington20066227
Stearns17813187
St. Louis13609241
Scott1191796
Wright11570104
Olmsted1041375
Sherburne818965
Carver692436
Clay650280
Rice604168
Kandiyohi553471
Blue Earth538933
Crow Wing481374
Otter Tail454466
Chisago450832
Benton418685
Winona387246
Douglas373466
Nobles368746
Mower363329
Goodhue345358
Polk327956
McLeod324245
Morrison311144
Beltrami309447
Lyon300636
Becker284139
Itasca284043
Isanti281641
Carlton278543
Steele27229
Pine266013
Freeborn243420
Todd231630
Nicollet223836
Brown214534
Mille Lacs213646
Le Sueur208815
Cass207323
Meeker199233
Waseca188916
Wabasha16953
Martin169326
Roseau165416
Hubbard149238
Redwood139527
Renville137139
Houston135613
Dodge13384
Chippewa130932
Cottonwood126818
Fillmore12245
Wadena119616
Rock109712
Sibley10837
Aitkin107633
Watonwan10638
Faribault104616
Pennington98815
Kanabec97418
Pipestone93923
Yellow Medicine93514
Murray8785
Jackson85210
Swift83118
Pope7375
Marshall70315
Stevens6978
Clearwater68514
Lac qui Parle65716
Lake63215
Wilkin6229
Koochiching59310
Lincoln4821
Big Stone4553
Unassigned43668
Grant4298
Norman4238
Mahnomen4107
Kittson37219
Red Lake3164
Traverse2503
Lake of the Woods1901
Cook1140

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 303464

Reported Deaths: 4269
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk45396448
Linn17695274
Scott15387163
Black Hawk13659236
Woodbury12953175
Johnson1204749
Dubuque11312150
Pottawattamie8942112
Dallas882171
Story863834
Webster467571
Cerro Gordo463568
Sioux453756
Clinton448861
Warren438838
Marshall425761
Buena Vista391929
Muscatine386777
Des Moines380941
Plymouth348968
Wapello341698
Jasper320458
Lee314430
Marion302152
Jones270449
Henry263430
Carroll253434
Bremer242248
Crawford228522
Boone216417
Washington214531
Benton208844
Jackson191131
Mahaska190736
Tama185857
Dickinson184226
Delaware172336
Kossuth171343
Clay166019
Wright163024
Fayette160022
Buchanan158323
Hamilton157929
Winneshiek155119
Harrison154762
Hardin154229
Cedar151819
Clayton150748
Butler146824
Page143715
Cherokee138227
Floyd138036
Mills136016
Lyon133832
Poweshiek132424
Hancock129024
Allamakee126927
Iowa123922
Calhoun12209
Grundy120226
Jefferson119524
Madison11899
Winnebago118529
Mitchell115734
Louisa114330
Cass112641
Chickasaw110612
Sac110615
Emmet110331
Appanoose109838
Union108122
Humboldt104219
Guthrie102424
Franklin101618
Shelby101426
Unassigned9160
Palo Alto9019
Keokuk84325
Montgomery84022
Howard82819
Monroe80818
Clarke7847
Pocahontas77211
Ida74030
Davis68921
Greene6887
Adair68620
Lucas6488
Osceola6349
Monona63316
Worth5993
Taylor5919
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Van Buren49412
Decatur4804
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