You can justifiably pin Green Bay's first touchdown Sunday on Vikings cornerback A.J. Jefferson. Point the finger at nose tackle Letroy Guion, too.
Either way, it was yet another example that showed the Vikings how the difference between being in the thick of the NFC North title race and becoming a fading contender can be seen on a handful of keys plays with things just a bit out of kilter.
The Packers had second-and-7 from the Vikings 32 when Guion bit on a hard snap count from Rodgers and jumped. With penalty flags flying, Rodgers knew he had a free play and fired toward James Jones, who was one-on-one with Jefferson down the left side.
Jefferson seemed to have ideal coverage. Yet Jones jumped a couple of inches higher, reached over Jefferson and snatched the pass for the score.
"You've got to make those plays," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "You can't draw that on a board and ask for it to be any [better] than the position that A.J. was in. They came down with it and we didn't. In our league, you have to make that play."
Loud and proud
Rodgers was a nuisance all afternoon with his snap count. On five occasions in the first half he pulled Vikings defenders offsides.
In the second quarter, the Packers quarterback got Everson Griffen to jump and used the free play to draw a 23-yard pass interference penalty on Mistral Raymond.
Just before halftime, an offsides penalty on Jared Allen moved the Packers 5 yards closer for Mason Crosby's 53-yard field goal attempt. That missed.
Still, Rodgers' cadence gave the Vikings constant headaches.
"He learned from [Brett] Favre, I guess," linebacker Erin Henderson said. "He's got a good hard count. Sometimes you feel like you're in a good rhythm with what they're doing and all of a sudden he throws that hard count at you. It makes it tough."
Ponder still the starter
Frazier reiterated after Sunday's loss that Christian Ponder remains his starting quarterback going forward. Frazier also said he didn't think at all about supplanting Ponder with Joe Webb, even after Ponder had zero completions and two costly interceptions during a seven-possession stretch Sunday.
With 4 minutes left, Ponder was 5-for-13 for 36 yards.
"It didn't really cross my mind," Frazier said about a potential benching. "The game was so nip and tuck for the longest time. And I always believed that we'd get that possession that we would need to get us back on top."
Ponder looked like an accomplished NFL quarterback Sunday -- for one drive. As the Vikings marched 71 yards in 14 plays for their first touchdown, Ponder was in rhythm and on target. He was 5-for-5 for 36 yards on the drive, finishing with a 7-yard scoring pass to Kyle Rudolph with 12:18 left in the first half.
But Ponder's next completion didn't come until late the fourth quarter. Thirty-eight minutes and 46 seconds of game clock elapsed between Vikings completions.
Overall, the Vikings went three-and-out five times in 11 possessions. They also had only one drive that lasted longer than 3 minutes.
Give and take
The Vikings defense didn't seem overly concerned with the 152 rushing yards they surrendered, understanding their game plan was devised to control Green Bay's downfield passing attack.
Green Bay's James Starks and Alex Green turned 27 carries into 124 yards.
"You've got to give something to get something," Henderson said. "Our mindset coming into the game was to not let Rodgers beat us."
The Vikings saw their upset chances disintegrate during an 11-minute Packers drive to open the fourth quarter. Green Bay took over possession with an interception by Morgan Burnett on the final play of the third quarter. They then proceeded to put together an 18-play, 73-yard drive that included four third-down conversions. It ended with Crosby's game-sealing 31-yard field goal with 4 minutes left.
"That's the difference," Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway said. "You look at that and say, 'Wow. Our offense could have had two more opportunities. At least.' "
Harvin missing again
Percy Harvin missed his third consecutive game because of a sprained left ankle.
Frazier said he didn't anticipate Harvin being able to play after seeing the receiver's lack of progress during the week.
As for any hope of Harvin returning for next week's game with the Bears?
"Hard to say," Frazier said. "Hard to say."
• Green Bay's starting right tackle, T.J. Lang, didn't play the second half because of an ankle injury and was replaced by Don Barclay.
• The Packers lost receiver Jordy Nelson to a hamstring injury in the first half.