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That was largely because Minnesota QB Christian Ponder played poorly, completing less than half his passes and throwing two backbreaking interceptions deep in Green Bay territory.
But last week, in the Vikings' 37-34 victory that got them into the playoffs and set up the wild-card round rematch with the Packers in the playoffs, Ponder was an asset.
Peterson had another monster game, rushing for 199 yards, but Ponder threw three touchdown passes and zero interceptions. His 120.2 passer rating was more than 78 points higher than his 41.9 rating in Week 13.
Ponder is not the same quarterback he was when the Packers faced him on Dec. 2. In his last three games, he's completed 49 of 82 for 539 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 95.3.
“I'm not surprised by the way Christian Ponder played. He played an excellent game against us,” Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday. “We've played two contests against him this year and he clearly played better in the second one. Decision-making, ball placement, I thought he threw the ball well. He does a good job in the pocket, transitioning out of the pocket. He's athletic. I thought he was in command of the offense.”
McCarthy was asked if he thought Ponder was the X-factor for the Vikings because, presumably, Peterson will get his yards, no matter what. Ponder did not play well in the first game and the Packers won; he played well in the second game and the Packers lost.
“I think that's a good conversation to have,” McCarthy said. “I don't really do the X-factor mindset or thought process. In my opinion, I think the X-factor will be the line play on both sides.”
He said postseason quarterbacking is a different animal than playing the position in the regular season. Avoiding turnovers is paramount. McCarthy said his own QB, Aaron Rodgers, who has thrown 84 touchdowns against only 14 interceptions over the past two seasons, understands that.
“Playoff games are different. I think the fact that Aaron's played in seven now, it's an experience we're going to draw from,” McCarthy said. “He's played in cold weather; he's played on the road. I think it definitely helps you. This is obviously the first time for Christian Ponder, but football to me is still football.”
Cold weather not major factor: It's become a tired storyline, but McCarthy was again asked if the cold weather was a home-field advantage for his team, which has gone 2-4 in its last six home playoff games.
“It's like anything; it's what you're used to,” he said. “You've got to be comfortable being uncomfortable. That's part of playing in the cold, but the Vikings live in the cold, so that's an advantage. They're not going to get off the plane and think, Oh my goodness."
McCarthy said the game would ultimately come down to fundamentals, not climate.
WR James Jones agreed, saying, “They're going to come in here, they're men, too. They're going to suck it up and play in the cold.”
Initially, as Matthews jogged off the field in obvious pain, it looked bad. But Matthews said it's nothing to worry about now.
“It was a violent hit,” he said. “I watched it. I didn't like it. It was bad. I'm a little stiff, but I'll be all right. It's part of the game. Fortunately, it wasn't in my spine, it was just back here. I took a good shot. It wasn't anything internal."
Jennings talks about sister's tweets: WR Greg Jennings, who had the best game of his season with eight catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns against the Vikings this past Sunday, was the subject of a Twitter tornado.
His sister, Valyncia, was tweeting furiously, insulting Rodgers and the Packers organization for not passing to or appreciating Jennings, and encouraging her brother to leave the team.
Jennings, who was alerted to the tweets after the game, said he called his sister immediately.
“I'm like, ‘C'mon, you can't do that to me,'” Greg Jennings said. “I'm not mad at her, I'm not saying it was right, I'm not saying it's wrong. It's her opinion. I just told her she should probably say, ‘These are your feelings' and not mine. I kind of play both sides of it because as a person that's on Twitter and people who are on Twitter, you feel like you can say whatever you want to say. She's no different; she's just my sister so it's a big deal.”
Jones says last year's loss to the Giants lingers: While most players said the Packers' divisional-round defeat to the New York Giants last season was no longer on their minds, Jones acknowledged it was. And he said that, behind closed doors, his teammates were cognizant of the miserable feelings that hung around after their Super Bowl hopes were rudely shattered.
“A lot of guys in this locker room still got that taste in their mouths walking off the field from that Giants loss last year,” Jones said. “So, hopefully, we'll think about that when we take the field and go out there and get us a win.”