Green Bay Packers

Vikings move closer to first-round bye with 16-0 win over Packers

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Vikings move closer to first-round bye with 16-0 win over Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Case Keenum stopped one last time before heading up the tunnel at Lambeau Field, clapping his hands above his head while Minnesota Vikings fans chanted "Skol! Skol!"

The Vikings' defense felt right at home Saturday night in Titletown.

A 16-0 victory over the injury-depleted Green Bay Packers gave Minnesota its first shutout in nearly a quarter-century and kept the NFC North champions in the hunt for a first-round playoff bye.

Stefon Diggs caught a four-yard pass from Case Keenum just inside the back line of the end zone in the first quarter for the only touchdown. The Vikings (12-3) have already clinched the NFC North and can secure a bye if Carolina loses or ties on Sunday against Tampa Bay.

"Defense played absolutely incredible today, and we did enough. It doesn't matter how, it matters how many," Keenum said.

The Vikings forced an incompletion into the end zone on fourth-and-4 from the 14 early in the fourth quarter to turn away the Packers' last best effort to cross the goal line. Safety Harrison Smith ended another Green Bay drive with an interception at the Minnesota 5 late in the second quarter.

Minnesota left frigid Lambeau Field with its first shutout since a 13-0 win over Detroit on Dec. 5, 1993. It was the first shutout over the Packers (7-8) since Nov. 14, 1971.

The defense has "played pretty good all year long ... Proof will be in the pudding here in a couple weeks," said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, referring to the playoffs.

The Packers managed to hold a 239-236 edge in total yards. They were still shut out twice in a season for the first time since 2006.

"I never felt more defeated, more embarrassed by a performance. Yeah, we had opportunities, and we didn't connect when we did," receiver Randall Cobb said.

In its defense, the team fielded a lineup that often looked like one that coach Mike McCarthy would send out for a game late in the preseason. The Packers have already been eliminated from playoff contention.

Starting outside linebackers Clay Matthews (hamstring) and Nick Perry (ankle/shoulder) missed the game, along with cornerback Damarious Randall (hamstring).

Brett Hundley was 17 of 40 for 130 yards with two interceptions in taking over at quarterback again for Aaron Rodgers, who returned to injured reserve this week after missing seven games earlier in the year with a collarbone injury.

The Packers didn't have leading receiver Davante Adams, who is in the concussion protocol, then lost wideout Jordy Nelson and tight end Richard Rodgers to shoulder injuries in the first half.

"Injuries are unfortunate. We had a lot of opportunities tonight. We didn't make the plays," coach Mike McCarthy said.

The hard turf at chilly Lambeau didn't help either, with some players having trouble with footing early in the game. Unable to connect on medium-to-long range passes, the Packers' best plays came when Hundley broke free for big gains on the run .

Not enough against the Vikings' stingy defense.

FROZEN TUNDRA

Fans bundled up in parkas, huddled under blankets and sipped on free hot chocolate to stay warm. Purple-clad Minnesota backers celebrated in the stands on a night in which temperatures hovered in the single digits.

Diggs finished with five catches for 60 yards. Keenum was 14 of 25 for 139 yards.

"I'm not sure we played our best game tonight ... We left some things out there offensively," Zimmer said.

THE LAST TIME

The Packers were also shut out this season 23-0 by the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 19.

HOME DOESN'T HELP

Hundley finished the season having thrown no touchdowns and seven interceptions in six games at Lambeau, with the Packers going 2-4 in that span.

INJURY REPORT

Vikings: The team said that LG Nick Easton will have surgery after breaking his right ankle in the first quarter. ... LS Kevin McDermott (shoulder) left late in the second quarter, with backup TE David Morgan taking over snapping duties.

Packers: RT Jason Spriggs was carted off the field with what appeared to be a left injury on the first play from scrimmage. Justin McCray, who was starting at right guard for Jahri Evans (knee), slid over to tackle with Lucas Patrick taking over at guard. ... Besides Rodgers and Nelson, RB Aaron Jones (knee) also didn't return after getting hurt in the first half.

"We battled ... I hope everybody walks out of here with their heads held high," Hundley said.

UP NEXT

Vikings: Finish regular season at home against the Chicago Bears on New Year's Eve.

Packers: Wrap up year with a visit to the Detroit Lions, also on New Year's Eve.

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Packers' Rodgers says he's been medically cleared to return

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Packers' Rodgers says he's been medically cleared to return

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers has been "medically cleared to return" to action after missing seven games with a broken right collarbone, the Green Bay Packers quarterback announced on Instagram Tuesday night.

Rodgers was hurt during a loss to Minnesota on Oct. 15 and had surgery four days later. He returned to practice on Dec. 2 and is eligible to rejoin the 53-man roster on Friday, which means the two-time MVP could suit up for Green Bay's game at Carolina on Sunday.

"It's been a long road ... but I'm happy to say I've been medically cleared to return," Rodgers wrote on Tuesday night. "Thanks for all the love, support, prayers and well wishes over the past 8 weeks and a big thank you to Dr. (Pat) McKenzie and our incredible training staff."

The Packers (7-6) likely need to win their final three games to make the playoffs.

Rodgers had his collarbone scanned on Monday morning. That afternoon, with the team in the middle of game-planning for Carolina, coach Mike McCarthy wasn't sure whether Rodgers or backup Brett Hundley would be his quarterback.

"I'd like to know as soon as possible," McCarthy said. "Frankly, it's best for Aaron to know as soon as possible. He's the one that has to get ready and, obviously, in his mind he's ready to go if you watch him practice and the conversations with him. But this is a medical decision and Dr. McKenzie is in touch with a number of different medical experts and they're evaluating the information."

Those meetings ran deep into Tuesday before a conclusion was reached.

The Packers were 4-2 in Rodgers' six starts, including the Minnesota game, where he was hurt on the second possession on a hit by Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr. In the three prior games, he threw 10 touchdown passes with only one interception in in consecutive victories over Cincinnati, Chicago and Dallas.

After playing the Panthers, who at 9-4 are in position for the top NFC wild card, the Packers have a rematch against NFC North-leading Minnesota before finishing the season at Detroit. Green Bay's final three opponents have a combined record of 26-13.

The Packers went 3-4 in Hundley's seven starts, including back-to-back overtime wins over Tampa Bay and Cleveland that kept their playoff hopes alive and made Rodgers' return a tantalizing possibility.

"We've got a chance," left tackle David Bakhtiari said after Sunday's victory at Cleveland. "We know what the magic number is. We still have everything in front of us. It's go time."

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Packers reportedly trying to collect portion of Martellus Bennett's signing bonus

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Packers reportedly trying to collect portion of Martellus Bennett's signing bonus

FOXBORO — We all remember what Martellus Bennett said about the Packers. 

“I am rubber and you are glue. Anything you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”

The Packers are hoping that anything they pay bounces off Bennett and sticks to them. 

MORE PATRIOTS:

The team has reportedly filed paperwork to collect a portion of the signing bonus paid to the veteran tight end, according to ESPN. Bennett, who returned to the Patriots after an unceremonious exit from Green Bay, received a $6.3 million signing bonus when he inked a three-year, $21 million contract with the team during the offseason. Bennett still has a prorated $4.2 million in signing bonuses coming after the next two seasons. 

The Packers released Bennett on Nov. 8 with the designation that he failed to disclose a medical condition. Bennett told the team he intended to have surgery prior to his release, but upon being claimed by New England, he returned to the field. 

Following his release and subsequent claim, Bennett was highly critical of the Packers and team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie, whom current and former Packers strongly defended. 

The Patriots placed Martellus Bennett on injured reserve this week, ending his season. He played two games for New England this season before missing last week's win over the Dolphins with shoulder and hamstring injuries.