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Packers' defense suffocated Vikings en route to 23-10 win and NFC North title

Green Bay guaranteed themselves a home playoff game and kept hold of the 2 seed in the NFC on Monday night.

Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

When the Green Bay Packers didn't turn the football over on Monday night, they were just fine. Three first half turnovers put the Packers in an early hole, but the team fought back with a takeaway of their own and took a seven point lead early in the fourth quarter.

Aaron Jones' 56-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth gave Green Bay a two-possession lead, and the defense held its own throughout the game. Minnesota gained just 139 yards of total offense all game without Dalvin Cook, and the Packers held on for a 23-10 victory - their first at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The Vikings' ten points all came off the Packers' turnovers, as the very beginning of the game had a similar feel to the prime time game in San Francisco a few weeks ago. Aaron Jones fumbled early, and Minnesota recovered inside the Packers' 10 yard line. But thankfully the Packers defense held Minnesota to a field goal, only putting the team in a 3-0 hole instead of spotting the Vikings an early touchdown.

The Packers got that field goal back late in the first quarter. A long drive stalled out just short of the red zone when Aaron Jones dropped a pass on third and 3, bringing on Mason Crosby for a 42-yard field goal to knot the score.

But the turnover bug struck the Packers again on the first play of the second quarter. Aaron Rodgers threw his first interception since week six, as safety Anthony Harris picked him off on a throw to Davante Adams. That was also Rodgers' first pick not deflected by a Packers receiver since late in 2017, and the Vikings made Green Bay immediately.

Three plays later, Kirk Cousins hit Stefon Diggs for a go-ahead touchdown, lifting the football over Jaire Alexander. Diggs made a tough contested catch, giving Minnesota a 10-3 lead. The Packers answered with a long drive, but could not convert in the red zone and Crosby's second field goal killed the Packers back within 10-6.

Another red zone drive fizzled at the end of the half as well, as the Packers tried to put up a touchdown just before the first half concluded. The team wasted a timeout on the cusp of the goal line, however, and a Rodgers throw behind Davante Adams went down as a drop. Crosby's third field goal pulled the Packers within one at the break.

Coming out of the half, the Packers came finally converted a turnover of their own. Kevin King came up with another crucial interception, this time on a deep ball to Diggs. The Aarons led a long scoring drive, as Jones slashed his way into the end zone from 12 yards out behind an Allen Lazard block. That gave Green Bay its first lead of the game, and a Geronimo Allison conversion on the two point attempt put the Packers up by 7.

Following a third down sack by Kenny Clark on the ensuing Vikings series, Aaron Jones fully put his stamp on the game. Jones took a run off left tackle, outracing the defense to the sideline and all the way to the end zone for a 56-yard score.

The Vikings seemed to have a long touchdown to claw back within a possession with about five minutes left, but it was not to be. Kyler Fackrell's pass rush drew a holding call on Riley Reiff to cancel out the play. After another Vikings punt, the Packers closed out the decision to hold on to the second seed.

Za'Darius Smith was a monster all game long, harassing Cousins repeatedly and recording 3.5 sacks. Davante Adams led the way receiving, catching 13 passes for 116 yards. And Jones was the top man on offense overall, with 154 rushing yards and those two scores.

Green Bay clinched the NFC North division with the win, guaranteeing a home playoff game and holding on to the second seed in the NFC. The Packers can lock up a playoff bye with a win in Detroit next week.