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Published: Tuesday, 9/9/2008

Rodgers emerges from Favre's shadow in Packers win

ASSOCIATED PRESS

GREEN BAY, Wis. - Broadway Brett he's not.

But forget that old No. 4 jersey that fans still wore in preparation for a retirement ceremony that never happened, because Aaron Rodgers provided the solid if unspectacular start he needed.

"It is good to get the first one under your belt and move forward," said Rodgers, who took hostile jabs from the Favre faithful during training camp and provided those same Packers fans with a 24-19 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night.

Rodgers, who threw for 178 yards and a touchdown, only has 16 seasons worth of games to catch Favre for consecutive starts. But he did take part in his first Lambeau Leap after plunging in for the clinching sneak in the fourth quarter for Green Bay's fifth straight win over Minnesota.

"I've been dreaming about that for four years, to be honest," the quarterback said.

Was it everything he thought it would be?

"I was hoping my first leap would be something a little more flashy," Rodgers said. "At that point of the game I just said, 'What the heck, I'm going for it.'"

Leave that glitz for New York, Aaron. Instead, look at the weapons you're surrounded with on a team that finished one step from the Super Bowl last season.

Ryan Grant, who burst on the scene the second half of last year and parlayed that into a contract that could be worth $30 million, ran 57 yards on the drive that set up Rodgers' run.

Will Blackmon added a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown that gave Green Bay a 17-6 lead heading into the fourth.

And Rodgers even hooked up with receiver Greg Jennings on the type of pass Favre made famous a free-for-all 56-yard effort. Then the quarterback made another Favresque throw moments later with an off-balance, 1-yard TD toss to fullback Korey Hall.

"It was Mr. Rodgers' neighborhood officially when we started training camp," said Jennings, who finished with five catches for 91 yards. "We're excited about what he brings to the table and what he holds for our future."

Rodgers was anointed the starter in March after Favre's retirement, then had to endure the unretirement and attempt to rejoin the team before Favre's subsequent trade to the New York Jets. But through it all, Rodgers was ready.

"He came out with a lot of people kind of judging how he was going to do, but he came out and played like we expected him to play," right tackle Mark Tauscher said.

Minnesota again fell flat. If the Vikings are the hot pick to win the NFC North, the defending division champs exposed all the reasons why they'll fall short.

Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who hadn't played since injuring his knee in an Aug. 16 preseason game against Baltimore, was reliably inconsistent, going 16-of-35 and throwing the game-sealing interception.

The Vikings' newest prized acquisition, defensive end and pass rush specialist Jared Allen, who signed a six-year contract potentially worth $72 million, failed to record a tackle.

And the Vikings secondary, like last year, failed to stop the Packers' meager air assault with potent Indianapolis coming next on the schedule.

"I think it's all about, for us, developing consistency," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "We really lost this thing as a team offense, defense and special teams."

Trailing 24-12 with 6:03 to play, Minnesota moved 80 yards on 11 plays in 3:24 to cut the lead to 24-19 on Adrian Peterson's 3-yard run.

"I'm sick of losing to them," said Peterson, who finished with 103 yards rushing. "Any team, but especially Green Bay."

After a failed onside kick, the Vikings defense held and gave Jackson one more chance.

But he overthrew wide receiver Sidney Rice and Atari Bigby intercepted the pass. Jackson tossed his helmet in frustration and blamed himself for the loss.

"I felt like when our defense stopped them and we got the ball back there was no doubt in my mind we were going to win that football game," Jackson said. "It was just too wide open for me not to complete that pass, point-blank. I just knew we were going to win."

Notes:@ Favre went 23-of-28 for 210 yards and three touchdowns in a win at Cleveland on Nov. 19, 1995. It was the only game in Favre's career that he's thrown at least 22 passes with a better completion percentage than Rodgers had Monday night. ... Packers coach Mike McCarthy has never lost to Minnesota. ... Ryan Longwell, the Packers' all-time leading scorer who left for Minnesota in 2006, kicked two field goals (27, 42) and made an extra point. Packers K Mason Crosby, selected in the 2007 draft, had a 33-yard attempt blocked to end the first half.


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