MINNEAPOLIS - Rookie wide receiver James Jones had jokingly said during the week that he wasn't sure if he wanted to catch Brett Favre's record-breaking touchdown pass, because he wanted to keep the ball.
You see, Jones hadn't caught a touchdown pass yet in the NFL, and that first one would be as special to him as Favre's 421st would be to the quarterback and to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But everything worked out for Jones, who snagged a 33-yard TD catch on Sunday at the Metrodome in the fourth quarter, three quarters after Favre had broken Dan Marino's record for touchdown passes on a throw to Greg Jennings.
"I'm just glad I got in there (the end zone), I'm glad we got the victory, and I'm glad I get to keep the ball," said Jones, who had four catches for 49 yards in the Packers' 23-16 victory over the Vikings. "But most of all, I'm just glad we're 4-0 and got the win."
Jones' touchdown was a big one, putting the Packers ahead 23-9 with 5:46 left in the game. He was split wide to the right and was in single coverage against rookie Marcus McCauley, whom he beat badly off the jam at the line of scrimmage.
"It was 'Cover 2' and we had all-go on," Jones said of the coverage and the play. "I think the safety jumped up on the inside, and I was able to get around the outside defender. Favre threw it in the hole and, ... touchdown."
The score capped an 11-play, 82-yard drive during which the Packers got a couple of big breaks. On the third play of the drive, running back Vernand Morency caught a short pass to pick up a first down, and the ball was knocked loose from behind by linebacker E.J. Henderson. But the fumble rolled out of bounds and the Packers kept possession.
Then on the next snap, Favre tried to hit fullback Korey Hall on a short dump-off, and Hall was drilled by Antoine Winfield with the ball popping free. Linebacker Chad Greenway scooped it up and was running the other way, with offensive lineman Junius Coston chasing him sans helmet, and might have scored, but the play had been blown dead. The officials ruled the pass incomplete, and the ruling was not reviewable despite the Vikings' attempts to challenge the call.
Ryan makes fake work
The Packers surprised all 63,779 folks at the Metrodome on Sunday with a fake punt on the opening possession of the third quarter.
Facing fourth-and-4 from the 50, punter Jon Ryan took the long snap and began running to his right, at first looking to throw. With no one open, Ryan ran into traffic along the right side, cut back toward the middle of the field and somehow eluded a handful of Minnesota tacklers to gain 7 yards and pick up the first down.
"There was a pass option there, yeah, but that wasn't really an option once I looked up, so I just took off," Ryan said. "I knew we only needed to go 4 yards, and I knew there was some room on the right, and I took off that way and the whole time I was looking at the first-down marker on the right. Then I cut back and I was looking at the first-down marker on the left. Then I cut back again and just fell forward. I knew we only needed about 4 yards, so I was just trying to get positive yards."
It was the Packers' first fake punt since the 2006 season opener, which also worked with a pass from Ryan to running back Noah Herron. This one kept alive what became a 16-play drive that consumed the first 8 minutes, 56 seconds of the third quarter and ended with a 44-yard Mason Crosby field goal for a 13-6 Green Bay lead.
Rookie safety Aaron Rouse was active on gameday for the first time on Sunday, having missed the first three games with a hamstring injury.
He played mostly on special teams, receiving credit for one assisted tackle. But he also got a handful of snaps at safety as an injury substitution.
Midway through the second quarter, Nick Collins injured his knee while tackling Adrian Peterson at the end of a 55-yard run and sat out the rest of that drive plus one more before returning in the third quarter. Rouse also replaced the other starting safety, Atari Bigby, for one play when Bigby was briefly shaken up on Minnesota's first possession of the second half.
Back at it
Morency also got his first action of 2007 after recovering from the knee injury he sustained during the first training camp practice, back on July 28.
He came off the bench at running back and had just one carry for 2 yards. He also caught three passes for 33 yards, including an 18-yard gain on a screen pass during the 2-minute drive at the end of the first half. He dodged a few tacklers and managed to get out of bounds at the Minnesota 17-yard line with 27 seconds left, helping to set up Crosby's 28-yard field goal to close the first half.
Morency also had an 11-yard gain on a completion in the fourth quarter but fumbled the ball when linebacker E.J. Henderson hit him from behind. Fortunately, the ball rolled harmlessly out of bounds, and the Packers kept possession.
"I thought I had lost the guy, the backside linebacker," Morency said. "I was trying to set the safety up to make a move, and he came out of nowhere and hit it out. It was a great play by him, and I just need to be more cautious."
Overall, Morency felt his knee held up well, and he doesn't anticipate any setbacks from the injury.
"I'm a little sore right now, but that's kind of typical," he said. "I'm just looking forward to the next opportunity."
With his two sacks on Sunday, defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila now has 68 in his career, just a half-sack shy of Reggie White's franchise record of 68 1/2.
'KGB' had two of the four sacks against Minnesota quarterback Kelly Holcomb in the game. He got to him in the third quarter on a third down in Green Bay territory, stripping Holcomb of the ball, though Minnesota's Steve Hutchinson recovered. The 7-yard sack forced the Vikings to kick a 48-yard field goal.
He also got to Holcomb for a 10-yard sack in the fourth quarter. Five plays later on that same drive, Gbaja-Biamila nearly got the record-breaking sack when he dragged Holcomb down from behind on a scramble, but Holcomb made it back to the line of scrimmage and he was credited with a rush for 0 yards.