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Packers keep playoff hopes alive with win over division-rival Vikings

Byusanewscart.com

Jan 1, 2024 #Sports

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The Green Bay Packers continue to remain in the NFC playoff picture, as they took down their NFC North-rival Minnesota Vikings, 33-10, to move to 8-8 on the season. 

The Packers were the No. 9 seed entering Sunday night on the outside looking into the wild card situation with the Detroit Lions already winning the division. With the victory, the Packers remain in the mix, while the Vikings, who had the same record heading into the matchup, are more on the outside looking in. 

Rookie Jaren Hall started for the Vikings at quarterback, as head coach Kevin O’Connell went away from Nick Mullens, who started the previous two games. But it was a move that didn’t work out in the Vikings’ favor. 

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Jayden Reed #11 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after a touchdown during the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 31, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (David Berding/Getty Images)

Hall struggled going 5-of-10 through the air for just 67 yards with one interception and a fumble lost. That led to Mullens starting the second half for Minnesota, but at that point, it was a large deficit to recover from, as Jordan Love and the Packers got to work quickly in the first half. 

With a 3-0 lead, the Packers made the best of the interception from Hall with their first touchdown drive. It was just two plays, as Love had great field position and delivered a strike to his rookie receiver, Jayden Reed, for a 33-yard touchdown. 

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And Reed wasn’t done finding the end zone in this one. After Love found the end zone himself on a two-yard rush earlier in the half, Reed used his blazing speed to go another 25 yards to bust into the end zone, fighting off tacklers in the process. 

He would leave the game early with a chest injury, but Reed led the Packers with 89 yards on six catches. 

The Packers also saw a score from Bo Melton on an impressive 91-yard drive in the third quarter, which Love orchestrated to perfection. Melton was wide open in the back right of the end zone for a nine-yard score on third-and-1 from Minnesota’s nine-yard line. 

Jaren Hall scrambles

Jaren Hall #16 of the Minnesota Vikings is pressured by Kenny Clark #97 of the Green Bay Packers during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 31, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Love would finish the game 24-of-33 for 256 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions – the exact performance head coach Matt LaFleur wanted to see from his new franchise quarterback. 

It also helped that veteran running back Aaron Jones was setting the tone on the ground for the Packers to open up everything else on the offense. Jones had 120 yards on the ground on 20 carries. 

For the Vikings, Mullen was 13-of-22 for 113 yards with one touchdown pass to tight end Johnny Mundt to at least get the home team in the end zone. Justin Jefferson had five catches for 59 yards (10 targets), though it was hard for Minnesota to get its offense going all game long. 

Jordan Love throws ball

Jordan Love #10 of the Green Bay Packers warms up prior to a game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 31, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (David Berding/Getty Images)

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The Packers slightly hold their own fate next week, as they’ll need to beat the Chicago Bears to give themselves a chance at a playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Vikings will need a lot to happen as they prepare to face the Lions for the final time of the year. 

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