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Packers' Rodgers wins his debut

September 09, 2008|Dan Pompei | Chicago Tribune

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Two of the most scrutinized quarterbacks in the NFL crossed swords Monday night at Lambeau Field in a game that could have revealed the future of the NFC North.

In the Green Bay Packers' 24-19 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, Aaron Rodgers' play gave the impression he might become the quarterback king of the division while Tarvaris Jackson's play raised serious concerns about the Vikings' ability to contend.

Playing in front of the mostly receptive home folks, each of whom was holding a ticket with Brett Favre's picture on it, was Rodgers. It was his first NFL start, but it didn't mark the beginning of an era as much as it closed an old one.

Even the most hopeful among Packers fans could not expect Rodgers' Packers career to come close to Favre's, but for one night at least, Rodgers was more than an able replacement.

The Vikings countered with Jackson, the player who would have been replaced by Favre had Favre been available.

Ultimately, it wasn't about Rodgers versus Favre as much as it was about Rodgers versus Jackson. If both of their teams are correct, this could have been the beginning of a long personal rivalry, a new age Bart Starr versus Fran Tarkenton.

Rodgers looked a bit jittery at the start. He fumbled a snap on the first possession and wasn't helped much by an offense that committed six penalties on its first two drives.

Four of the penalties were called against the left side of the Packers' offensive line, whose responsibility it was to contain new Vikings end Jared Allen. So even when Allen wasn't making plays, his presence clearly was felt.

It was a sloppy effort from both teams, with the Packers committing 12 penalties for 118 yards and the Vikings chipping in with nine for 42 yards.

Rodgers and the Packers settled down with time, and he ended up with a 115.5 passer rating, completing 18 of 22 passes for 178 yards. He threw for one touchdown and scored on a one-yard sneak that gave the Packers a 24-12 lead with 6:03 left.

In the second quarter, he completed a 56-yard pass to Greg Jennings -- it was a better catch than throw -- that set up his one-yard touchdown pass to fullback Korey Hall.

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