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Green Bay Packers lose Aaron Rodgers, then fall to Minnesota Vikings

By Jess Myers, The Sports Xchange
Green Bay Packers lose Aaron Rodgers, then fall to Minnesota Vikings
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is seen on field as the Packers play the Washington Redskins in their pre-season game at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland on August 19, 2017. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Green Bay Packers not only lost a game and their perch atop the NFC North on Sunday. They may have lost much more.

After quarterback Aaron Rodgers left the game with a broken collarbone in the first quarter, backup Brett Hundley could not solve the Minnesota defense. The end result was a 23-10 Vikings win, leaving the teams tied with identical 4-2 records.

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But while Minnesota has dealt with quarterback issues since Week 1 when starter Sam Bradford was lost because of a nagging knee ailment, these are new challenges for the Packers.

Minnesota backup Case Keenum, making his fourth start of the season, was 24-of-38 passing for 239 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

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"Up front again we played really well. No sacks," said Keenum, who started nine games for the Los Angeles Rams last season. "We ran the ball well when needed to, down the field guys were making plays, and when your defense gets three turnovers, it really helps."

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Hundley, a third-year pro who was hounded by the Vikings' defense for much of the day, finished 18-of-33 passing for 157 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. He was sacked four times.

"This was a hard day. All the players that we lost to injury, it was difficult," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. "We all understand the magnitude of what Aaron means to our football team. We're going to show up tomorrow. We're going to correct this game. We're going to improve."

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After a scoreless first quarter, Minnesota led 14-10 at halftime, with 17 of the 24 combined points coming after turnovers.

After Hundley replaced Rodgers, his first pass was tipped and intercepted by cornerback Xavier Rhodes. The Vikings took a 7-0 lead after the turnover when Keenum found running back Jerick McKinnon for a 21-yard catch-and-run touchdown.

"I thought our guys played with a lot of fight and a lot of heart," Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said. "I thought it was important to win the turnover battle, and just barely we did.

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"We turned a couple over early and kind of let them get back into the swing of things, but overall it's a good win."

On Minnesota's next possession, a McKinnon fumble was returned 63 yards by Packers linebacker Clay Matthews to the Vikings' 18-yard line, giving Hundley a short field. His 14-yard pass to wide receiver Davante Adams knotted the score at 7.

"We've been put through a lot of tests in the past," Adams said of the quarterback situation. "We'll bounce back, figure it out, rally.

"We've got a lot of faith in Brett. He did a good job today, kind of thrown into the fire. We've just got to keep him up and move forward."

The Vikings went up 14-7 to cap an eight-play, 84-yard drive when McKinnon scored on a 3-yard run. But a Keenum interception -- the first thrown by a Vikings quarterback this season -- set up a short Packers drive that ended with Mason Crosby's 26-yard field goal.

"We were able to put up 10 points off those two turnovers, but obviously not enough," Matthews said.

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Kai Forbath kicked a 36-yard field goal on the initial drive of the second half, giving the Vikings a 17-10 lead. He made a 34-yarder on the opening play of the fourth quarter for a 20-10 Minnesota lead and a 53-yarder -- his longest of the season -- with 10:47 left after Hundley's second interception.

NOTES: The teams played the first regular-season game in U.S. Bank Stadium a year ago, with Minnesota prevailing 17-14. Packers WR Jordy Nelson scored the first points in the new stadium, catching a 1-yard touchdown pass from QB Aaron Rodgers. ... Packers CB Quinten Rollins left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury. ... Vikings LB Anthony Barr, who delivered the hit on Rodgers, left the game in the second quarter with a concussion and did not return. ... The Packers lost T Bryan Bulaga for the game to a concussion. ... Icelandic actor and strongman Thor Bjornsson, best known for his portrayal of The Mountain on the HBO series Game of Thrones, led Vikings fans in their traditional "Skol" chant before the game.

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