Aaron Rodgers starts fast, finishes slow as Packers hang on

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Well, at least the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers started fast this time.

Now they have to work on their finish.

And by the looks of things in Sunday’s 21-16 win over the Minnesota Vikings, Rodgers and first-year coach Matt LaFleur have some long days and nights ahead of them.

Clad with a playcalling cheat sheet on his left wrist to help LaFleur get the calls in more quickly, Rodgers carved up the Vikings on the way to three consecutive touchdowns to start the game. A week after the Packers managed just minus-12 yards of offense in the first quarter and totaled just 213 yards for the game, they jumped out to a 21-0 lead -- and in the process got Pro Bowl receiver Davante Adams (seven catches for 106 yards) going. Although they sputtered in the second quarter, they eclipsed last week’s yardage total in the first half with 230 by halftime.

But it wasn’t pretty after their 167-yard first quarter. They finished with 335 yards, but they couldn't even run out the clock. They still had to punt it away one more time with 6 seconds left.

At least they avoided their fourth loss in franchise history after leading by at least 21 points. It has happened three times, but none since the 1983 season, when they lost to the Falcons, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

If ever a 2-0 start to the season could be considered ugly, then this is it.

Describe the game in two words: Division win. It wasn’t quite the old black-and-blue division win that was the 10-3 game in Chicago last week, but these are the kinds of wins that can pay dividends at the end of the season when it comes to tiebreakers. The Packers already have played one-third of their division games and have a decent chance to win their first three NFC North games given the next division opponent is the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on Oct. 14.

Troubling trend: If you had "under six quarters into the season" when Rodgers would come off the field yelling in the direction of LaFleur, then you’re a winner. On the final possession of the first half, a three-and-out that ended with a Rodgers throwaway on a third-and-16 from his own 19, he appeared to be upset and expressed his displeasure as he approached LaFleur. It was not immediately clear what Rodgers was upset with. In the third quarter, LaFleur made the unusual move to sit on the bench next to Rodgers while the defense was on the field. The two appeared to be reviewing something on LaFleur’s call sheet. Rodgers finished with just 209 yards, although he had two touchdowns on 22-of-34 passing.

Promising trend: Look, Mom, a 100-yard rusher. Aaron Jones rushed 23 times for 116 yards and a touchdown a week after the Packers averaged just 2.1 yards per run against the Bears. It was the Packers’ first 100-yard rushing game since Jones did so last year on Nov. 11 against the Dolphins (15 carries, 145 yards).

Pivotal play: Last week it was Adrian Amos’ fourth-quarter interception in the end zone. This week, it was Kevin King. How many times can the defense keep bailing out the Packers? King did it with an acrobatic interception in the end zone to preserve the lead with 5:10 left in the game. The offense promptly went three-and-out, and the defense came up with another stop.