Aaron Rodgers described the NFC North Packers title as “really sweet” and one that took on extra significance for him as it was sealed against the Vikings.
The Packers went into Monday’s game as an underdog, but won 23-10 to seal the first division title from 2016, with Aaron Jones scoring twice. They are still on the run to claim seed no. 1 in the NFC entering Week 17, a situation that will be ensured if the Lions and 49ers lose to the Seahawks.
Rodgers broke his hourglass against the Vikings in 2017 and had the backlash of their fans at that time as the Packers (12-3) defeated their competing opponents on the road.
“It’s great to win on this stadium, where a few years ago I was caring about leaving the stadium after breaking my hourglass,” he said. “To get back to the top of the North’s win after two years of being down and winning these kinds of games feels great.
“It’s so sweet to celebrate in the cupboard with those guys. A lot of guys didn’t come here in ’16 when we got to put these hats on and there is nothing like checking out the first box in this list of goals and we are playing for more more coming next week, especially given how deep these playoffs and the NFC are, it’s great to have a chance to play some home games.
“I said earlier this season, I’m just getting into a legal shot, but knowing that we could have two home games to get some special changes all the momentum.”
Za’Darius Smith, a big free agent signing in the offseason, continued his 2019 fine with a 3.5-pound screen against the Vikings, whose QB Kirk Cousins is now 0-9 Monday night’s game .
Rogers said Smith catches the attention, adding: “It’s energy, it’s power, it’s a big presence for him.
“When he talks, the men listen, he meant a lot to our success in more ways than just playing on the pitch. The players who can individually take games cover a lot of things in a team. I could tell (in training camp) our defense was different, it just had a different feel to it.
“You could see the pace and size and ability, I felt pretty good about the chances of defense, I knew the offense would be a work in progress, but I felt the defense would give us a chance.
“There’s a lot of emphasis on looking pretty or dominant, but it doesn’t matter how we do it as much as we do.”
The Vikings (10-5) are now guaranteed to end the regular season as a 6-seed NFC.