Rodgers guides shorthanded Packers past Vikings

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Minneapolis, MN ( - Aaron Rodgers and his seldom-used receivers are making it work.

Rodgers threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns in the Green Bay Packers' 44-31 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

Rodgers, who was a perfect 10-of-10 for 172 yards and his pair of scores on third down, finished 24-of-29 for the Packers (5-2), who have won four straight games.

Green Bay was 13-of-18 on third down overall and tallied points on each possession before its final drive where it took a knee.

Jordy Nelson, the only mainstay among the receiving corps, caught seven passes for 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Eddie Lacy carried the ball 29 times for 94 yards and a score in the triumph.

The Packers lost Randall Cobb and James Jones -- two of their top three receivers -- to injury against the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 13, while dynamic tight end Jermichael Finley suffered a scary neck injury during last Sunday's win over Cleveland.

Cobb has a fractured fibula and may return near the end of the season, while Finley was released from the ICU Monday after being diagnosed with a bruised spinal cord, something that will keep him on the sidelines indefinitely. Jones, who has a knee sprain, is expected back soon.

Three of the seven Green Bay receivers who played appeared in their first game last Sunday. One of those players, Jarrett Boykin, who had eight catches for 103 yards and a score last Sunday, registered five grabs for 89 yards.

"Aaron's had a lot of challenges Monday through Saturday that don't show up on the stat sheet, just trying to get on the same page with younger players and trusting the game plan," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said.

Adrian Peterson ran for 60 yards and a score on 13 carries, while also adding three receptions for 23 yards for Minnesota (1-6), which has dropped three in a row.

"We couldn't find a way to get off the field on third down, and it really came back to haunt us," Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said.

The Vikings defeated the Packers 37-34 last December to make the postseason, but lost to Green Bay in the wild-card encounter a week later.

Peterson rushed for 409 yards in his two regular-season outings versus Green Bay last year and added another 99 yards on 22 carries in their wild-card tilt.

Christian Ponder struggled in his return to the lineup, completing 14-of-21 passes for 145 yards. Ponder got the starting nod after the newly-acquired Josh Freeman suffered a concussion during Monday's 23-7 loss to the New York Giants.

Cordarrelle Patterson set an NFL record with a 109-yard return on the opening kickoff in defeat.

The Packers took a 24-17 advantage into the break, but broke the game open by scoring the first 17 points of the second half.

On their first touch of the third quarter, Rodgers flipped an 8-yard pass to Nelson on a 4th-and-3 and scrambled for 12 yards on a 3rd-and-2 before Lacy capped the elongated 15-play, 80-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run.

Minnesota's ensuing three-and-out were the only three plays the Vikings ran in the third.

Rodgers floated a pass off his back foot into the middle of the field following a scramble to his right on a 3rd-and-16, which Boykin brought in for a 17-yard gain. James Starks' 25-yard TD burst up the middle made it 38-17 early in the fourth.

Mason Crosby's 20-yard field goal on Green Bay's next march increased the margin to 41-17.

A pair of TD runs by Toby Gerhart and Ponder, sandwiched around a 45-yard Crosby field goal, concluded the scoring.

Earlier, after Patterson took the opening kick back to stake Minnesota an early lead, Nelson's 11-yard TD catch midway through the opening frame tied it.

Crosby and Blair Walsh traded field goals of 30 and 36 yards, respectively, before the Packers tallied 14 straight points.

Nelson's 76-yard catch and run for a score preceded Micah Hyde's 93-yard punt return for touchdown.

Peterson barreled in from eight yards out with four seconds left in the opening half to pull the hosts within a touchdown heading into the break.

Game Notes

Green Bay outgained Minnesota, 464-243 ... The Vikings were 2-of-8 on third down ... Starks ran for 57 yards on seven carries ... Green Bay won the time of possession battle, 40:54-19:06.