MINNEAPOLIS – Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix sat shoulder to shoulder on the Packers bench, savoring the final minutes of a game the Packers had to win. The clock ticked toward victory and Peppers and Clinton-Dix reached across Matthews for a victory handshake. Only two weeks prior, the two were caught by TV cameras in a heated moment in Carolina.
The Packers are back. Let the good times roll.
Winning fixes everything, and Sunday's 30-13 win over the Vikings gave the Packers the look of a team fixed. The offense was balanced and efficient. The defense suffocated Adrian Peterson and swarmed over Teddy Bridgewater.
The Green Bay Packers traveled to Minnesota to face the Vikings in a Week 11 NFC North matchup. Photos by Matt Becker, Packers.com.
This was a win the equal of that Week 2 victory over the Seahawks. At 7-3, the Packers are in control of the NFC North and back in the hunt for a first-round playoff bye. Even bigger games are on the horizon.
How bad was it for the Packers through their three-game losing streak? You probably know the answer to that question. Everything from the play-calling to Olivia Munn was blamed.
"Yeah, maybe we'll get you guys off our back," Rodgers said to reporters at the quarterback's postgame press conference. "We've been taking it on the chin. I had a couple of poor performances. It's a great feeling to be back in first and in control of our fate from here. I'm proud of our effort. Six sacks. It's a big win for us."
Rodgers' stats on Sunday weren't at his MVP level, but his command of the game was undeniable. He was its star player, which is as it needs to be for the Packers to contend for a championship.
"It's big for all of us. Sometimes I think we play better when we get questioned by you guys," he said to reporters.
Rodgers praised running back Eddie Lacy, who topped the 100-yard mark for the first time this season. Rodgers also praised his offensive line which, on a few occasions, made it appear as though there was no pass rush.
"We executed better today. We had a good week of practice. We all felt this performance was possible," he said. "Eddie was really going today. He was running tough. He was breaking a lot of tackles. His cuts were on point. I don't think he's had 22 carries in a while. We had to run the ball. I thought the line played real well."
Last week at this time, the Packers were buried under an avalanche of questions. What was wrong with Rodgers? Would Mike McCarthy take back the play-calling? They were the two questions that led the way.
Now, there is only one question: Can the Packers do it again?