QB Aaron Rodgers leads Packers’ late-season charge

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Once he got into the end zone on a 6-yard touchdown run, Aaron Rodgers felt he had to make one more move.

Time for a Lambeau Leap for the Green Bay Packers quarterback.

That sore right calf seemed just fine in a 38-25 win on Saturday over the Minnesota Vikings. The right arm remains MVP-caliber after Rodgers threw for 347 yards passing and four touchdowns in yet another dominant December performance.

“I think he’s an MVP. I don’t think there’s (any) question about it,” coach Mike McCarthy said when asked about Rodgers’ candidacy for a third career Most Valuable Player award.

“He’s been playing at an MVP level for a number of years. And that was an MVP performance.”

Well maybe not the Lambeau Leap.

“Once I got in, I was thinking, ‘It’s been a long time since I got a Lambeau Leap,’ and in the back of my mind (I) was thinking, ‘This is going to be on the highlight tape next week, so make sure you get all the way up there,’” Rodgers said.

It’s been Rodgers’ passing, not his rare running plays, that have helped the Packers win five straight and put them in position to win a fifth NFC North title in six years.

After falling to 4-6, Rodgers said he thought that the Packers could “run the table,” a once-distant notion for a team that at the time was coming off back-to-back blowout losses at Tennessee and Washington.

Now, a win next week in Detroit would clinch the division.

“It feels like best thing we could hope for. We had some adversity, and we stuck together,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers hasn’t thrown an interception in the last six games, tying the franchise record. He hasn’t thrown an interception in his last 206 attempts, six shy of the career high he set in 2014. He has had a passer rating of at least 108.9 in four of the five games in the win streak.

Rodgers also had his first 300-yard game against a defense coached or coordinated by Mike Zimmer, the Vikings’ head coach.

“He got out of the pocket on us a few times and made plays. He’s always a tough guy to defend, and if you don’t get him off a rhythm, which we didn’t do in the first half,” Zimmer said.

They also couldn’t cover receiver Jordy Nelson, who consistently found seams in the defense, even with safety Harrison Smith back for the Vikings from a two-game absence from an ankle injury.

Rodgers and Nelson set a Packers record on their 21-yard score in the first quarter. It was the 58th touchdown for the duo, breaking the tie with the Brett Favre-Antonio Freeman combination. The second score came on a 2-yard pass.

Rodgers and Nelson know each other so well, it sometimes looks as if they can read each other’s minds.

“The second (touchdown) was a scramble, second- and third-reaction play that we’ve done for so many years now,” Rodgers said. “So it’s fun to be in the record books with such a great guy and great teammate.”

So much so that Rodgers jokingly referred to the “Jordy Nelson School of Lambeau Leaps” in making his own celebratory jump after the quarterback’s touchdown run. It was Rodgers’ fourth scoring run of the season, but his first at home.

“They smelled a little bit like booze, which is great for our fans, and they were holding pretty tight, but you love it, man,” Rodgers said. “You love that feeling.”


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