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Packers thump Vikings 41-17 to stay in playoff picture

Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage (26) scores a touchdown on an interception return against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Tork Mason-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Rodgers passed for a touchdown and ran for another and Aaron Jones rushed for 111 yards to help the host Green Bay Packers rout the Minnesota Vikings 41-17 on Sunday to keep their NFC playoff hopes intact.

Green Bay (8-8) won for the fourth straight game and can earn a spot in the postseason with a home victory against fellow postseason hopeful Detroit in Week 18. The Packers learned before kickoff that they controlled their own destiny after Washington lost to Cleveland.

Rodgers was 15-for-24 for 159 yards and a touchdown to Robert Tonyan. AJ Dillon had 12 carries for 41 yards and a 2-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Minnesota (12-4), which clinched the NFC North last month, committed four turnovers and missed an opportunity to stay alive for the NFC’s top seed following Philadelphia’s loss earlier Sunday.

Capitalizing on two return touchdowns to help jolt a slow-starting offense, Green Bay rolled to a 27-3 lead at halftime. The surge started moments after the Packers’ defense limited the Vikings to Greg Joseph’s 21-yard field goal on the heels of a blocked punt that set Minnesota up at the Green Bay 1-yard line.

Keisean Nixon took the ensuing kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown, giving Green Bay an advantage it wouldn’t relinquish. Just more than five minutes later, with the Vikings driving after a Green Bay turnover on downs, the Packers’ Darnell Savage intercepted Kirk Cousins and scored on a 75-yard return.

It marked the first time since 1967 that the Packers scored touchdowns on kickoff and interception returns in the same game.

Green Bay outscored Minnesota 13-0 in the second quarter as part of a run of 41 straight points. Mason Crosby bounced a 56-yard field goal in off the crossbar as time expired in the second quarter, moments after Joseph missed his second field goal attempt of the half.

Cousins was 18-for-31 for 205 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. Alexander Mattison was Minnesota’s leading rusher with 38 yards on eight carries.

Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson was limited to one reception for 15 yards on five targets.

–Field Level Media