GREEN BAY, Wisconsin — The running lanes looked decidedly wider. Eddie Lacy broke tackles and barreled over defenders.
Lacy ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Aaron Rodgers threw for three touchdowns and the Packers cruised after leading by four touchdowns at the half.
Lacy was just getting started then.
He rushed for his scores on back-to-back drives in the third quarter. On the second touchdown, Lacy barreled over a defender into the end zone from 10 yards out.
"I thought he was a beast in the open field. We blocked well and Eddie ran very well," coach Mike McCarthy said.
Rodgers finished 12 of 17 for 156 yards passing, including a 66-yard scoring strike to Jordy Nelson, the league's leading receiver.
Still, the Packers weren't at their best. Three-and-outs were sprinkled in between their touchdown drives.
Rodgers, though, recognized the importance of getting the running game going.
"Eddie, you know, he's going to be a guy who's just going to be continuing to lay on people and to be more of a force as the weather continues to turn here," the quarterback said.
The Vikings had the better running game coming into the night. But Green Bay's league-worst run defense had its best outing of the season, holding Matt Asiata to 72 yards on 15 carries.
Coach Mike Zimmer struggled to find positives.
"It's hard to find a silver lining after tonight," he said.
Some other takeaways from Green Bay's fourth straight Thursday night victory at Lambeau Field:
MAKING THE LEAP: Julius Peppers' 49-yard interception return for a touchdown proved the 34-year-old pass rusher can still keep up with the younger crowd. He provided the kind of big-play spark that the Packers were hoping to get when they signed him in the offseason.
Peppers became the first player in NFL history with 100 sacks and 10 interceptions. He'll remember his latest pick for a while.
"It's at the top, it's at the top. It was nice because I actually scored on it," Peppers said.
POOR PONDER: Ponder finished 22 of 44 for 222 yards passing, but much of the damage came late with the game well in hand. He was sacked six times.
Ponder's 6-yard touchdown run on the first play of fourth quarter ended the shutout.
Otherwise, this wasn't what Ponder envisioned when he was called on to start with Bridgewater sidelined by a sprained left ankle.
"Playing like that, you don't have much to say. It was embarrassing," Ponder said. "I feel bad that I put the team in this position. Point the finger at me."
RUN DOWN: Matt Asiata ran for 72 yards on 15 carries for Minnesota, but the Packers' league-worst run defense otherwise had a solid showing. It was part of a nice all-around effort for a defense that also forced three turnovers and recorded six sacks. Mike Daniels and former Viking Letroy Guion each had 1 1/2 sacks.
"It's just something to continue to build off of. That's how football is," Daniels said. "They do their job in the back end, we do our job up front, and we all benefit from it."
NOT MISSED: They once cheered receiver Greg Jennings in Green Bay. Now with the Vikings, Jennings was booed each time a ball was thrown his way on Thursday night. Jennings' pointed remarks about Rodgers and the quarterback's leadership style apparently haven't been forgotten, even if Jennings has tried to make amends.
Jennings finished with two catches for 31 yards.
TRAINER'S ROOM: Bridgewater was an observer four days after throwing for 317 yards in his first career start in a win over Atlanta. He sprained his ankle in the fourth quarter of that game.
Bridgewater said he wanted to play, but that coach Mike Zimmer made the best decision for him and the team. Bridgewater suspects he might have been able to go if the game was on Sunday.
He said he would be ready for Minnesota's next game on Oct. 12 against Detroit.
Minnesota had the most notable new injury when receiver Cordarelle Patterson left with a hip injury early in the third quarter. For Green Bay, defensive lineman Datone Jones left in the second quarter with an ankle injury.
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