GAME RECAP (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
(GREEN BAY) - The Minnesota Vikings' defense has dominated most opponents this season. It dominated the shorthanded Green Bay Packers on Saturday night. The Packers, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers on injured reserve, receiver Davante Adams inactive and receiver Jordy Nelson lost for the second half, simply lacked the horses to challenge the Vikings. Minnesota won for the 10th time in 11 games by knocking off the rival Packers 16-0 in a game played in sub-10 degree temperatures. For the fourth time in their last six games, the Vikings (12-3) allowed fewer than 10 points. It was their first shutout victory since 1993. Harrison Smith's second interception of the night preserved the achievement. "It's about winning the ballgame but for us to get a shutout going into the last week of the season is huge," defensive end Brian Robison said. Green Bay (7-8) was blanked for the second time this season, also losing at home to Baltimore 23-0 on Nov. 19. Brett Hundley, making his eighth start for Rodgers, was ineffective, going 17 of 40 for 130 yards and two interceptions. He wasn't helped by a handful of drops, a makeshift offensive line and the lack of two of the team's top weapons. "We didn't play well enough tonight to win the game," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "We didn't score any points on offense. We had opportunities. I don't know, six, seven drops. You've got to handle the football. They handled the ball better than we did." Case Keenum threw a first-quarter touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs, and running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon combined for 111 rushing yards for Minnesota. Green Bay trailed 10-0 midway through the third quarter when it faced a fourth-and-7 from the Vikings' 36-yard line. Without Adams, who ranks second in the NFL with 10 touchdown catches but was out with a concussion suffered last week, and Nelson, who exited late in the second quarter with a shoulder injury, Hundley threw the ball to Michael Clark. Clark, an undrafted free agent, recently was promoted from the practice squad. A former college basketball player, he played one year of football at Marshall. The ball sailed over Clark's head. The Vikings tacked on a 20-yard field goal by Kai Forbath on the ensuing possession to extend the lead to 13-0. The key play on the drive came when Keenum ran toward the line of scrimmage, backpedaled and threw a short pass to tight end David Morgan, who broke three tackles for a gain of 23. On fourth-and-4 from the Vikings' 14 early in the fourth quarter, Hundley threw a back-shoulder pass to Clark in the end zone but Xavier Rhodes was in position to prevent the touchdown. Late in the fourth quarter, on fourth-and-10, Hundley went deep to Clark but was incomplete against cornerback Trae Waynes. The Packers pleaded for interference but the only flag was for unsportsmanlike conduct for arguing the non-call. Set up with a short field, Forbath booted a 27-yard field goal to make it 16-0 with 2:56 remaining. Smith's second interception, on fourth-and-1, put the game away. "I'm not sure we played our best game tonight," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. "We left some things out there offensively. Green Bay, for having some guys out, I thought they played well defensively. It was good to be able to come in here and get a win." The Vikings struck first, taking their opening possession and getting a 49-yard field goal by Kai Forbath. Minnesota's defense forced back-to-back three-and-out punts from Green Bay. After the second, Minnesota extended its lead to 10-0. Three consecutive runs totaling 23 yards by Murray set up a play-action pass to Diggs. Diggs got behind cornerback Josh Hawkins and drew an interference penalty for a gain of 39 to the 6-yard line. One play later, Case Keenum lofted a pass to Diggs in the back of the end zone, with Diggs getting both feet down for the touchdown and a 10-0 lead. Green Bay got past midfield only once in the first half. On third-and-3 from the Vikings' 15, quarterback Brett Hundley had tight end Lance Kendricks immediately open but waited too long, which allowed safety Harrison Smith to get under the route for an interception. In home games, Hundley finished with zero touchdown passes, seven interceptions and a 50.6 passer rating compared to eight touchdowns, three interceptions and 97.6 passer rating in road games. All three of the road interceptions came at Minnesota, when Hundley played the final three-plus quarters after starter Rodgers had suffered a broken collarbone. "It's so frustrating just because of the fact that I know what I can do," Hundley said. "I know what my expectations of myself are. They're higher than anybody who is watching TV at this moment (or) any coach. I'm putting in the work, I'm doing what I have to do. But to go out there and not be consistent and (not) give our team an opportunity to win each game, that hurts."
NOTES: The Packers had five starters among their inactives: RG Jahri Evans (knee), WR Davante Adams (concussion), OLBs Clay Matthews (hamstring) and Nick Perry (ankle/shoulder), and CB Damarious Randall (knee). Evans had played every snap this season. ... On the first play from scrimmage, the Packers lost their other right-side offensive line starter when RT Jason Spriggs sustained a left knee injury and missed the rest of the game. Plus, RB Aaron Jones (knee) and TE Richard Rodgers (shoulder) dropped out. ... Vikings LG Nick Easton suffered a season-ending broken ankle in the first quarter. ... Packers QB Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone during the Week 6 game at Minnesota when he was tackled by LB Anthony Barr. Barr was booed when he made his first tackle of Saturday's game.
                         MINNESOTA     GREEN BAY
First downs                     15            12
Rushes-yards                33-112        24-113
Net Passing yards              124           126
Passing (Att-Comp-Int)     25-14-0       40-17-2
Sacked-Yards Lost             3-15           1-4
Punts-Average               7-39.6        6-38.5
Fumbles                          0             0
Penalties-Yards               2-10          6-79
Time of Possession           31:37         28:23
MINNESOTA - 10   0   3   3  - 16 
GREEN BAY -  0   0   0   0  -  0
1st - MINN - Kai Forbath, 49-yard field goal MINNESOTA 3-0
1st - MINN - Stefon Diggs, 4-yard pass from Case Keenum (Forbath kick) MINNESOTA 10-0
3rd - MINN - Forbath, 20-yard field goal MINNESOTA 13-0
4th - MINN - Forbath, 27-yard field goal MINNESOTA 16-0
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING
GREEN BAY - Jamaal Williams 15-58, Brett Hundley 5-48, Aaron Jones 3-13
MINNESOTA - Latavius Murray 21-69, Jerick McKinnon 7-42, Stefon Diggs 1-3, Case Keenum 4-(-2)
PASSING
GREEN BAY - Brett Hundley 40-17-130 2 INT
MINNESOTA - Case Keenum 25-14-139 1 TD
RECEIVING
GREEN BAY - Lance Kendricks 4-36, Randall Cobb 4-22, Michael Clark 3-36, Jordy Nelson 3-11, Jeff Janis 1-12, Geronimo Allison 1-9, Aaron Ripkowski 1-4
MINNESOTA - Stefon Diggs 5-60 1 TD, David Morgan 2-26, Adam Thielen 2-24, Jerick McKinnon 1-8, Jarius Wright 1-8, Kyle Rudolph 1-6, Latavius Murray 1-1, Michael Floyd 1-0

Vikings shut out Packers, 16-0

GREEN BAY - The Packers were shut out at home for the second time this season, and the Vikings put themselves in prime position to earn a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs with a 16-0 decision at Lambeau Field on Saturday night. Green Bay dropped to 7-8 on the season with one game remaining, while Minnesota improved to 12-3. Packers QB Brett Hundley, whose effort was hurt by a bunch of dropped passes on a frigidly cold night, finished 17-of-39 for 130 yards with two interceptions for a 30.2 passer rating as several potential scoring drives came up empty. Hundley also had 48 rushing yards on scrambles. RB Jamaal Williams had 15 carries for 58 yards for the Packers, and rookie WR Michael Clark and TE Lance Kendricks led the pass catchers with 36 yards each. For the Vikings, RBs Latavius Murray (21-69) and Jerick McKinnon (7-42) combined for 111 rushing yards. QB Case Keenum was 14-of-25 for 139 yards with a TD and 85.2 rating. WR Stefon Diggs caught the TD p ass and had five receptions for 60 yards. Here's a recap of the action.
First quarter: The Packers picked up just one first down on their first three possessions and the Vikings scored twice to take a 10-0 lead into the second quarter. The Packers won the toss and elected to receive. On the first snap of the game, a 7-yard completion to WR Randall Cobb, RT Jason Spriggs went down with an injury and had to be carted off the field. Justin McCray, starting at RG for Jahri Evans, moved over to RT with Lucas Patrick coming in to play RG. RB Jamaal Williams ran three straight times for 10 yards, bringing up third-and-6, and QB Brett Hundley’s pass for rookie WR Michael Clark was broken up by CB Trae Waynes. A poor punt put the Vikings on their own 30. A 17-yard pass to WR Stefon Diggs, a 7-yard run by RB Jerick McKinnon, and an 8-yard pass to WR Jarius Wright on third-and-2 gave the Vikings a pair of first downs. On third-and-7 from the Green Bay 31, QB Case Keenum’s pass to the sideline for WR Adam Thielen was broken up by CB Davon House, and K Kai Forbath was good from 49 yards out for an early 3-0 Minnesota lead. The Packers went three-and-out, and the Vikings started on their own 28. DT Kenny Clark sacked Keenum on third down, and the Vikings punted. The Packers went three-and-out a second straight time. RB Latavius Murray ran three straight times for 23 yards, and then Keenum took a deep shot to Diggs. CB Josh Hawkins was flagged for defensive pass interference at the Green Bay 6-yard line, and two plays later, Keenum and Diggs hooked up for a 4-yard TD. The Vikings led 10-0 with 56 seconds left in the quarter.
Second quarter: The Packers blew a scoring chance late in the second quarter and entered halftime trailing the Vikings, 10-0. The Packers began the second quarter with a 10-yard pass to Cobb on third-and-2, but that was all. The Vikings went three-and-out, with S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix just missing an interception on a third-down pass for Diggs. Green Bay went three-and-out for the third time in five possessions, though, as WR Jordy Nelson dropped a slant pass that would have moved the chains. P Justin Vogel’s punt pinned the Vikings on their own 11. Keenum hooked up with Diggs for 20 yards on the first snap to get Minnesota out of the hole. McKinnon caught a 9-yard pass to convert on third-and-7, but on the ensuing third-and-1, LB Kyler Fackrell sacked Keenum for a 4-yard loss on a bootleg, and the Vikings punted. QB Brett Hundley scrambled for 24 yards to get the Packers across midfield for the first time. After Williams ran for 9 yards, Hundley found Nelson for 25 yards on a free play with Minnesota having 12 defenders on the field. The Vikings challenged the ruling of a completion, and the call was overturned on replay, with Nelson having lost control of the ball as he went to the ground. With the penalty enforced instead, the Packers had a first down on the Minnesota 35, and Hundley hit TE Lance Kendricks for 8 yards, followed by a 5-yard connection with Nelson for a first down at the 22. Williams ran for 4 up the middle to take it to the two-minute warning. But on third-and-3 from the 15, Vikings S Harrison Smith stepped in front of Kendricks and picked off Hundley’s pass. The Vikings went three-and-out when they got confused by the chain gang on their side of the field giving them a first down, but it wasn’t official. What they thought was a first-down pass was a third-down pass that was incomplete, forcing the punt.
Third quarter: The Vikings extended their lead to 13-0 over the Packers after three quarters. A 21-yard pass to Thielen and an offside penalty on LB Ahmad Brooks got the Vikings to midfield on the opening possession of the second half. But the Packers’ defense held there and punted Green Bay back to its own 15. Williams ran three straight times for 12 yards, and Hundley scrambled for 22 to the Green Bay 49. Hundley then hit WR Jeff Janis for 12 yards on third-and-10, but his next third-down pass went through Kendricks’ hands over the middle. The Packers decided to go for it on fourth-and-7 from the Minnesota 36, but Hundley’s pass was incomplete. The injuries continued to pile up for the Packers, as it was announced that Nelson (shoulder), TE Richard Rodgers (shoulder) and RB Aaron Jones (knee) were out for the rest of the game. Murray ran for 14 yards to midfield, but Keenum overthrew an open Thielen deep. A delay of game made it third-and-13, and a scrambling Keenum almost crossed the line of scrimmage, but stepped back to hit TE David Morgan, who dodged multiple tacklers to pick up the first down and 23 yards in all. The Packers tried to throw the challenge flag, but the officials did not see it before the next snap, so there was no review. Green Bay was penalized for 12 defenders on the field, and then Murray caught a 6-yard pass for a first down at the Green Bay 19. Keenum found Diggs for 11 yards to make it first-and-goal on the 7, but three Murray runs did not find the end zone. Rookie CB Lenzy Pipkins tackled him short on third-and-goal from the 2, and Forbath’s 20-yard field goal made it 13-0 Vikings with 1:20 left in the period. The Packers went three-and-out, with with WR Geronimo Allison dropping a pass and Hundley getting sacked on third down by Waynes on the final play of the quarter.
Fourth quarter: The Vikings went three-and-out to start the fourth quarter, with Clark getting his second sack of the game and nearly getting his third, as he and LB Reggie Gilbert pressured Keenum heavily on third down. WR Trevor Davis returned the punt to the Green Bay 47. Hundley moved the chains with a 10-yard pass to Clark and then hit Clark again for 19, with the rookie WR making a diving catch at the Minnesota 20. After Williams ran twice for 7 yards, Kendricks dropped a slant on third down, and the Packers called a timeout before the fourth-down play from the 13 with 10:09 left. Hundley’s back-shoulder throw for Clark, with CB Xavier Rhodes in coverage, was incomplete, and the Vikings took over. Runs of 18 and 9 yards by McKinnon got the Vikings moving, and Keenum ran a QB sneak for a first down on the Minnesota 42. Green Bay’s defense held there, and the Vikings punted the Packers back to their own 5. The Packers picked up two first downs, but deep balls for Janis and Clark and third and fourth downs were overthrown, and the Vikings regained possession with 3:56 left. The drive began at the Green Bay 14 following an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The Vikings tacked on a 27-yard field goal by Forbath with 2:56 left. Hundley was intercepted for a second time by Smith on fourth down at the two-minute warning. 
NFC NORTH DIVISION STANDINGS - WEEK SIXTEEN
X-Minnesota 12   3   0   .800   359  242
Detroit      8   7   0   .533   375  365
GREEN BAY    7   8   0   .467   309  349
Chicago      5  10   0   .333   254  300
X - Clinched Division Title             

SUNDAY DECEMBER 24TH
CINCINNATI 26, Detroit 17 - The Cincinnati Bengals have been dealing with key injuries for weeks, but their offensive line on Sunday against the Detroit Lions was patchwork at best. Clint Boling had never played left tackle and Christian Westerman had never played left guard. It's the most snaps right guard Alex Redmond had ever played. Obviously, we're trusting the guys to get the job done," said Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. "But you just never know until you get into the game". Things turned out pretty well. Giovani Bernard rushed for 116 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown as the Cincinnati Bengals eliminated the Detroit Lions from the playoffs with a 26-17 victory Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals' situation became even more dire when leading rusher Joe Mixon, who had just returned from missing two games with a concussion, left with a left ankle injury in the first quarter. But, Bernard stepped up as the Bengals rushed for 142 yards as a team. "Yeoman's effort," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. "We felt pretty good with Joe Mixon back in there, but that didn't last long." Sunday's game might have been Lewis' last home game as Bengals head coach. Lewis' contract is up after this season and he is reportedly stepping down. He has repeatedly denied the reports. What's certain is that Detroit (8-7) is out of the postseason. The Lions needed a win and plenty of help to make the postseason. Lions head coach Jim Caldwell also is on the hot seat, especially after Sunday's loss to the struggling Bengals. "You gotta own it and I'm responsible for it," Caldwell said. "Any time you lose, everything's up for consideration. You've never heard me try to defend myself before, I'm not going to do it today." Caldwell said he hasn't had any conversations with ownership about his future. But, Detroit's loss on Sunday was unexpected. The Bengals (6-9) had lost their previous two games to Chicago and Minnesota by a combined score of 67-14. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who had a 27.3 passer rating last week, the second-lowest of his career, passed for 238 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. Matthew Stafford started the scoring with a 33-yard touchdown pass to tight end Eric Ebron on a third-and-5 play in the first quarter, putting Detroit ahead 7-0. Ebron beat linebacker Jordan Evans, who was making his third start of the season. Evans later left the game with a head injury. Ebron had five catches for 83 yards. Stafford was 19 of 35 passing for 203 yards with one touchdown and an interception. "There were times where we had success but when it matters most you have to cash in," said Lions receiver Marvin Jones, a former Bengal. "We didn't do that. If we win, we're still in. We lost, so we're out. That's tough." Cincinnati dominated the game statistically in the first half, outgaining Detroit 194-126 yards, with 13 first downs to the Lions' six, but still trailed 7-6 at halftime on two Randy Bullock field goals. The Lions led 10-6 when Brian Hill's 34-yard catch set up Dalton's 1-yard TD pass to tight end C.J. Uzomah, putting Cincinnati ahead 13-10. It was the Bengals' first second-half touchdown in three weeks. Matt Prater missed a 50-yard field goal that would have tied the score, and Bullock connected on his third field goal early in the fourth quarter to give Cincinnati a 16-10 lead. But, a mental error by the Bengals' Jordan Willis set up a go-ahead TD for Detroit. When the Lions were forced to punt because of a false start on fourth-and-1 in Bengals' territory, Willis ran into the punter, resulting in a 5-yard penalty. The Lions brought the offense back out and Tion Green picked up the first down. He then scored on a 5-yard run to put Detroit ahead 17-16 with 9:49 left. "We weren't making enough big plays," Stafford said. "For some reason or another, we didn't score enough points. We weren't moving the chains enough. It's not fun when you get eliminated." Bullock kicked a 51-yard field goal to put Cincinnati ahead with 4:49 left and Bernard's 12-yard touchdown with 1:54 remaining knocked the Lions out of playoff contention. "Credit it to the o-line," Bernard said. "I know that's a cliche, but guys were shuffling in and out and those guys did an amazing job."
CHICAGO 20, Cleveland 6 - Even as the Bears wind down a difficult season, Chicago found plenty of ways to take advantage of the hapless Cleveland Browns. Jordan Howard rushed for two touchdowns, rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky ran for a score, and the Bears kept error-prone Cleveland winless with a 20-3 victory on Sunday at snowy Soldier Field. If the Browns (0-15) lose their finale next week at Pittsburgh, they would join the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only NFL teams to go 0-16. With the defeat against Chicago, Cleveland secured the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Trubisky, from Mentor, Ohio, connected on 14 of 23 passes for 193 yards and rushed for 44 yards as he met his hometown team for the first time. Cleveland passed on drafting him with the No. 1 overall pick earlier this year. The rookie got rolling in the second half after an apparent Cleveland interception and touchdown were erased by a Browns penalty. "To play in the snow on Christmas Eve against your hometown team, it's kind of a dream come true," Trubisky said. "It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed every moment. "I soaked it in with all my teammates." Howard's touchdowns were his eighth and ninth this season, and the second-year running back has four in his past three games. Against Cleveland, chances figured to materialize for the 23-year-old Howard and his teammates. "There aren't a lot of holes," Howard said, "but you've to be patient and know that something is going to break eventually." Zane Gonzalez's 48-yard field goal just before halftime accounted for all the scoring for the Browns, who entered the game as the first NFL team to open consecutive seasons 0-14. "We can't make enough plays to win a game yet," Cleveland coach Hue Jackson said. "I never saw this being this way in two years here. "It's the hardest thing I've been through in my whole life. Right now we're going to take the lumps and we deserve them." Jackson, however, said he didn't plan to make big changes for next week's game against the Steelers. "I'm going to be very consistent with this group," Jackson said. "We just have to do things better." The defense of the Bears (5-10) erased two prime scoring chances for the Browns. Cleveland rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer's pass was intercepted by cornerback Kyle Fuller in the end zone late in the second quarter, then Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins was forced into a fumble by linebacker Danny Trevathan just short of the goal line in the third. Kizer completed 18 of 36 passes for 182 yards and was intercepted twice. Both teams kept their games close to the ground at Soldier Field until Trubisky started connecting the second half. The stadium, which has 61,500 seats for football, was only about half full with game-time temperature of 24 degrees. Chicago led 6-3 at halftime. Howard found a seam and dashed in for a touchdown from the 2-yard line late in the first quarter to cap a nine-play, 57-yard drive and give the Bears a 6-0 lead. Cleveland's Carl Nassib blocked Mike Nugent's extra-point attempt. After connecting on just one his first seven passes, Kizer hit on five consecutive attempts during an 11-play march late in the second quarter that moved the Browns to the Chicago 28-yard line. However, Kizer's throw intended for Josh Gordon was intercepted in the end zone by Fuller with 2:04 left in the half. "I threw the ball with some anticipation and the corner(back) made a good play on the ball and brought it down himself," Kizer said. The Browns managed to close it to 6-3 on Gonzalez's field goal with six seconds left. The kick was set up after Kizer hit Ricardo Louis for a 35-yard pass. It looked as if Cleveland jumped ahead on the first play of the second half when Trubisky's pass intended for Howard was intercepted by Myles Garrett and run back for a touchdown. However, an offside by Nassib negated the score, and Chicago came back four plays and 2:37 later to make it 13-3. "This thing is always about momentum, shifts and changes," Chicago coach John Fox said. "Obviously that was a big win in our favor." And another blow that doomed the Browns. "It's kind of like a double-edged sword," Jackson said. "When you get those plays, the other team is going to turn around and make a play." Howard found daylight and ran the ball in from 16 yards to cap the drive. The play was set up by Trubisky's pass to Benny Cunningham that netted 40 yards. Trubisky ran in the Bears third touchdown from 4 yards out with 3:27 left in the third to finish a 12-play, 66-yard march. After the rookie and several teammates celebrated by making snow angels in the end zone, Nugent's extra point stretched Chicago's lead to 20-3. Higgins caught Kizer's pass the final minute of the third but fumbled it at the 3-yard line when it was knocked away by Trevathan.
Stefon Diggs catches a pass in the back of the end zone to put the Vikings up 10-0 in the first quarter.  (AP)
With the Packers driving late in the first half, Harrison Smith picked off a Brett Hundley pass to keep Green Bay scoreless. (AP)
Trae Waynes celebrates his pass breakup in the fourth quarter. (AP)
Case Keenum greets Vikings fans with open arms after he led Minnesota to its 12th victory of the season. (AP)
Minnesota Vikings (12-3) 16, Green Bay Packers (7-8) 0
Sunday December 23rd 2017 (at Green Bay)