GREEN BAY, Wis. — Another night, another four-touchdown performance for Aaron Rodgers — just about what the Green Bay Packers have come to expect from their superstar quarterback.
The real surprise came on the other side of the ball: A defense that finally showed it can take charge of a game.
The Packers (9-0) remain the NFL’s lone undefeated team. And if they now can count on a defense to complement their high-octane offense, they just might be unstoppable.
Rodgers threw for four scores against a fierce Vikings pass rush, Randall Cobb returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown and the Packers defense contained Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings in a 45-7 victory on Monday night.
Green Bay’s defense came into the game giving up nearly 300 yards passing per game, second-most in the NFL. Their last time out, the Packers nearly blew a big lead in the fourth quarter at San Diego, holding on for a 45-38 victory.
But the Packers finally played to their potential against the division rival Vikings (2-7), holding rookie quarterback Christian Ponder to 190 yards passing with an interception and limiting Peterson to 51 yards and a touchdown.
The Vikings’ defense did its best to rough up Rodgers, sacking him three times and hitting him hard virtually every time he took off running. Defensive end Jared Allen harassed Rodgers at every turn.
The pressure didn’t force any uncharacteristic mistakes from Rodgers, who was 23 of 30 for 250 yards without an interception. Rodgers threw a pair of touchdown passes to Jordy Nelson, and also found Greg Jennings and John Kuhn for scores.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy put backup quarterback Matt Flynn in the game with 10:30 left in the fourth quarter — and the Vikings couldn’t keep him out of the end zone, either, as he scrambled 3 yards for a touchdown with 4:27 left.
But it was Cobb, a second-round rookie out of Kentucky, who got it all started for the Packers.
After the Packers’ defense forced the Vikings to go three-and-out on their first possession, Cobb fielded a punt from Chris Kluwe and squeezed through a seam in the middle of the field.
Cobb accelerated down the left sideline and danced the final few steps into the end zone, tossing the ball in the air as if he was shooting a basketball before doing a “Lambeau leap” into the stands.
Cobb also had a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the Packers’ season opener against the New Orleans Saints.
Rodgers finally got the ball at the 9:55 mark in the first quarter and directed an 11-play, 70-yard drive that included conversions on third-and-8, to Donald Driver, and third-and-7, to running back James Starks. Rodgers then finished the drive with a perfect pass to Jennings in the middle of the field for a touchdown, and the Packers led 14-0.
With the Vikings driving near the end of the first quarter, Charles Woodson wrestled a ball away from Visanthe Shiancoe for what initially was ruled an interception. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier challenged the call and it was overturned, giving Ryan Longwell a shot at a 47-yard field goal.
But the Vikings committed a penalty, and Longwell came up just short on a 52-yard attempt.
Rodgers then put together another drive, and Rodgers hit tight end Jermichael Finley for 25 yards on a fourth-and-5 conversion attempt at the Vikings 34-yard line. Allen sacked Rodgers on first-and-goal, and the Packers ended up settling for a 25-yard field goal by Mason Crosby to take a 17-0 lead with 12:04 left before halftime.