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NOTEBOOK: Vikings Defense Relentless in Pressuring Packers QBs

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MINNEAPOLIS —The player changed, but the plan didn't until the outcome was nearly determined.

The Vikings prepared all week for the multitude of challenges that Aaron Rodgers poses.

The Packers quarterback, however, left the game early with a broken collarbone after a hit by linebacker Anthony Barr, who later left the game with a concussion.

Rodgers finished 2-of-4 passing for 18 yards and was replaced by Brett Hundley, a third-year pro who had gone a combined 3-for-11 in five previous appearances.

Minnesota (4-2, 2-1 NFC North) intercepted Hundley three times and sacked him four times. Press box statisticians tallied 12 quarterback hits of Hundley in addition to Barr's hit of Rodgers en route to a 23-10 victory.

"It doesn't matter if it's Rodgers back there," Robison said. "It didn't matter if it was Hundley back there, our plan was the same: stop the run, collapse the pocket and get to the quarterback."

Minnesota limited Green Bay (4-2, 1-1) to 72 yards on 24 attempts and 4-of-17 (24 percent) on third downs.

Robison and Harrison Smith split one sack early in the second quarter, and Smith added another to force a punt later in the second quarter. Everson Griffen sacked Hundley on a fourth-and-10 with a little more than five minutes remaining, and Robison shared one sack with Linval Joseph in the final minute.

"We still have to play our brand of football," Smith said.

Hundley finished 18-of-33 passing for 157 yards with one touchdown pass and three interceptions for a passer rating of 39.6. He was 6-for-10 with 61 yards through three quarters.

"Well, obviously it's not the same guy," Zimmer said. "We stuck with the plan for a little while after that to see what was going on and then as the game, as we got up by two scores, then we kind of changed some of the things that we were doing."

Sending best wishes

The Vikings can certainly empathize with an injury at quarterback.

Stefon Diggs was lost for all of 2016 during a non-contact drill at practice. Kyle Rudolph has been dealing with a knee injury since Week 1.

Although the Vikings and Packers are rivals, several Minnesota players expressed condolences over the injury.

"We pray for Aaron Rodgers' speedy recovery," Griffen said. "He is one of the best quarterbacks in the game. I pray for him. I love playing against him. He is a competitor.

"I wish him the best, but we went out there and won the game under any circumstances," Griffen added. "At the end, we were able to eat, and that is what we did."

Robison, who moved ahead of Henry Thomas for sole possession of ninth place in Vikings franchise history with 57 career sacks, said, "You never want to see a guy go down like that."

"He's probably the best quarterback in the NFL right now. That's just my opinion," Robison said. "You never want to see a guy go down, you never want to see a guy get injured. You want to compete against the best. We want to compete against him, but that's still a very good Green Bay football team that we were able to get a win against today."

Keenum and the Vikings offense possessed the football for more than 32 minutes to help the defense stay fresh. He also expressed condolences to Rodgers

'Atmosphere was electric'

Keenum mentioned part of the allure of Minnesota when he was weighing his options in free agency was that he didn't have to go against the Vikings defense.

On Sunday, in his fourth start with the Vikings, Keenum completed 24 of 38 passes for 239 yards with a touchdown and one interception for a passer rating of 78.7.

He said he enjoyed the atmosphere of his first Vikings-Packers game from Thor Björnsson, who plays "The Mountain" on Game of Thrones sounding the Gjallarhorn, to taking a knee in the victory formation.

"It was a great team win today," Keenum said. "I just have to keep doing my job. I have to take care of the ball better, had the one interception.

"But something with our defense, if we stay turnover free, we're a lot better football team," Keenum said. "We battled through it today, which was fun. Tough, tough opponent. It was a pretty cool game. It was my first Vikings-Packers game, and that atmosphere was electric."

Picky, picky, picky

In addition to Smith's interception, which was the 15th of his career and his third against the Packers, Minnesota also got turnovers forced by Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes.

Rhodes recorded his first of the season and eighth of his career. His pick occurred on a tipped pass and set up Minnesota's first score.

Waynes claimed his second interception of the season, fifth overall and second game-clinching pick against the Packers in as many seasons at U.S. Bank Stadium.

200th for Terence

The Vikings opened the game in the nickel defense with Trae Waynes as the fifth defensive back. It marked the 200th career start for Newman, who is in his 15th NFL season.

Newman, 39, has played in 211 games, including 27 of 37 games since joining Minnesota in 2015.

Newman shared time at nickel with Mackensie Alexander and recorded five tackles (press box tally). Alexander was credited with three tackles and had a critical tipped pass that Rhodes intercepted to end the first quarter.

Zimmer pointed out that the Vikings played nickel throughout the game against a Packers offense with multiple receiving threats and tackled well against the run.

Waynes added six tackles, including one for loss.

"The thing I probably like the best, we played the whole game in nickel defense today, and we did a nice job in the running game," Zimmer said. "We didn't allow them to run the football into little guys. That helped tremendously. It helped us in some coverage aspects as well."

Sacks streak

Griffen recorded a sack for the sixth straight game and seventh of the season, pushing his career total to 55.

"I cannot do it without my front four," Griffen said. "We have the best front four in the league. We get the job done on a daily basis. We feed off each other and play for one another. We love each other. That is how we do it."

View game action images as the Vikings take on the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.

Forbath on the mark

Kai Forbath provided the only points of the second half, kicking a 36-yard field goal in the third quarter. He opened the fourth quarter with a 34-yarder and added a 53-yard blast with 10:47 left in the fourth quarter. It was Forbath's second-longest of his career and longest with Minnesota.

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