Pack your bags, Green Bay.
And don’t forget the sunscreen.
It may not have gone exactly as scripted.
At least as far as the participants were concerned.
The understudy didn’t fare nearly as well as the star on a mild Saturday night at Lambeau Field.
And the superstar wasn’t able to carry the day this time around.
After a few fits and starts, the Pack used the crisp passing of Aaron Rodgers and a good enough running game to dispatch the Minnesota Vikings, 24-10, to advance in the NFC Playoffs on Wild Card Weekend.
“The defense played at a championship caliber level and you need that,” Rodgers said after the win.
“Offensively, we still have things we need to work out. We’ve got to be able to help our defense and close a team like this out, especially at home.”
Charles Woodson, who came back after a long absence, said: “I felt good out there. The idea was to come out and help this team get a playoff win. We want to continue the ride.”
The Packers now head to the west coast to take on the San Francisco 49ers.
It will be another edition of Saturday night live for this matchup.
The Niners bested the Pack, 30-22, to open the NFL season.
Alex Smith has been benched in favor of Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore, while not as formidable as AP, does yeoman’s work in the ground game.
An hour or so before kickoff, Christian Ponder (who injured his elbow when Morgan Burnett tackled him last Sunday) was a scratch.
Joe Webb, who took just three snaps from center all year, stepped into the breach.
Unfortunately for Webb, this didn’t have a storybook ending.
Unless you’re talking Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
That notwithstanding, the Packers still had Adrian Peterson to deal with.
He was more than a handful in the two previous meetings, racking up 409 yards…many of them after initial contact.
And AP came out of the blocks at about a six yard per attempt clip in the opening drive that resulted in a field goal.
He finished with 99 yards and didn’t get a sniff of the end zone.
Any dreams in the heads of Vikings fans about this being a little déjà vu evaporated when the Packers’ offense started to get untracked.
As the first quarter was drawing to a close, DuJuan Harris squirted his way and touched the goal line.
The original call had been down by contact just shy of the white stripe.
While the commercials were being played as the quarter had purportedly ended, head coach Mike McCarthy challenged and won.
This gave Green Bay a lead it would never relinquish and made everyone who won their first quarter pool at 3-0 cough it over to those who had 7-3.
Webb, who was in on-the-job training mode pretty much the whole game, had just three first half completions.
A Packer drive that stalled led to a 20-yard field goal by Mason Crosby and a 10-0 lead.
The Packer ‘D’ definitely earned a game ball in this one.
A couple of sacks and a fumble recovery by Clay Matthews may be the headline here.
But Sam Shields had a huge interception.
And Erik Walden was relentless in pursuit of both Webb and Peterson.
Tramon Williams’ coverage was like an eclipse and Woodson gave the Vikes something to think about.
John Kuhn, who mustered just one rushing touchdown all season (note to self: perhaps skip him on next year’s fantasy team) capped off the next drive with a three-yard scamper with 38 seconds left in the first half.
The half ended with the Packers in front, 17-3.
Green Bay took the second half kickoff and salted this one away with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Kuhn for a 24-3 lead.
Michael Jenkins did put up a 50-yard touchdown catch on blown coverage with 3:39 left in the game, but it was over long before then.
The only blemish in this defensive beauty did little to mar the finish.
The intimate knowledge of your opponent will not be a factor in the Bay area.
With Harris providing a spark and an alternative for Rodgers, the Packers are poised to go deep in the playoffs.
They clearly have the chops to make it to the Super Bowl and win it again.
Dom Capers’ defense is coming on at the perfect time.
It all comes down to execution.
And nobody executes more efficiently than Rodgers.