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Aaron Rodgers locks in, leads Packers to big opening win

43-34 triumph over Vikings features four TD passes from two-time MVP QB

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

It's always the eyes.

Davante Adams saw that look from Aaron Rodgers heading into Sunday's season opener at Minnesota, and that was enough.

Rodgers was on top of his game to start 2020, throwing for 364 yards and four touchdowns as the Packers' offense was practically unstoppable from the middle of the second quarter on at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The result was a 43-34 victory that got the Packers off on the right foot with a big NFC North road win, just like last year.

"I've seen that laser focus come since the beginning of the week," said Adams of his quarterback. "There's a certain type of look in his eye he has, walking around wearing his headphones. I don't know what he's listening to, but whatever it is, I need to listen to that as well.

"Yeah, that's my guy. I expect nothing less from him at this point."

Adams' music was apparently plenty inspiring, too, as he caught 14 of Rodgers' 32 completions to tie a franchise record, matching Don Hutson's 14 receptions from Nov. 22, 1942, at the New York Giants.

Adams finished with 156 yards and two of Rodgers' four TDs, while Rodgers posted a sterling 127.5 passer rating in a game that had that classic dialed-in feel to it.

Rodgers said he brought "some fire" to practice this week, and that's probably what Adams saw, as he stressed that it wasn't training camp anymore. It was the "real deal" with the season starting.

On Sunday, his comfort level in the offense showed as he directed touchdowns five times in a stretch of six drives after some early red-zone failures left the unit a tad frustrated.

"Game day is all about calm and trying to get in that flow state, and I felt like I was in it from the start," Rodgers said.

"I feel like I can deal the ball as quickly as I want to and today was a good start for that. I feel like I was on time with my throws."

The game turned early in the second quarter, right after the Packers got stopped on three straight plays from the Vikings' 1-yard line. The goal-line stand kept Minnesota up, 7-3, but it didn't stay that way for long.

Cornerback Jaire Alexander sacked Vikings QB Kirk Cousins for a safety, Za'Darius Smith recorded a third-down sack on Minnesota's next possession, and then Alexander snagged an interception with less than a minute to go in the half.

All produced points, the last two being TD passes of 24 yards to Adams and 45 yards to Marquez Valdes-Scantling to put the Packers up 22-7.

"The turnover before the half was absolutely huge," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "That was big time."

From there, Rodgers kept pouring it on in the second half. Valdes-Scantling recovered from a couple of dropped balls to finish with 96 yards on four catches, including a clutch 39-yard grab on third down to set up Adams' second TD.

Allen Lazard added a TD in the fourth quarter, posting four catches for 63 yards in all. But leads of 29-10 and 36-18 were never totally safe as the Vikings kept fighting back, forcing the Packers to tack on one more touchdown.

Adams went deep for a 40-yard grab on first-and-20 – his record-tying 14th catch – and Aaron Jones capped a 16-carry, 66-yard day with a 5-yard TD run to finally put this one away.

"When we're up on somebody, we can't relax, not for one second, especially in this league," LaFleur said of the defensive struggles down the stretch, as Cousins wound up with a 118.6 rating (19-of-25, 259 yards, two TD, one INT) and Adam Thielen had six catches for 110 yards and two scores.

"Every week around the league you see teams battle back, and once that momentum starts going one way, it's hard to stop it."

U.S. Bank Stadium hosted a Week 1 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings.

But it was the Packers who were toughest to stop on this day, as they punted only once, went 6-of-11 on third downs, and held a time-of-possession advantage of 22-plus minutes (41:16 to 18:44). The main bad news was injuries to three starters – defensive lineman Kenny Clark and offensive linemen Lucas Patrick and Lane Taylor. Updates on them will be coming later this week.

In addition to the defensive lapses late, LaFleur also would like to clean up those early red-zone struggles and the timing issues with getting the plays in and getting the offense out of the huddle. Rodgers wasted too many timeouts, which could prove costly in a closer game.

"It's only one week," LaFleur said. "I don't think any of us are going to be patting ourselves on the back. There's a lot to improve upon.

"We're going to have a great opponent next week in the Detroit Lions. They gave us all we could handle a year ago."