GREEN BAY, Wis. — Bookmakers thought the difference between Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder and Joe Webb was three points, as the Packers went from an eight-point to an 11-point favorite when it was announced Saturday night that Ponder was inactive because of an elbow injury.
But the wild-card round game at Lambeau Field wasn't about the difference between Ponder and Webb. It was about the difference between Aaron Rodgers and Webb.
Webb's decision-making, accuracy and touch were lacking as he threw some of the ugliest passes of the NFL season, putting balls in the dirt and 10 yards beyond receivers.
Rodgers, who came in with the highest postseason passer rating in history at 105.5, showed Webb how an All-Pro does it. The Packers built a 17-3 lead before halftime on their way to a 24-10 victory, Rodgers' first in the playoffs at home.
The Packers face the 49ers next Saturday in San Francisco in the division round.
Rodgers put away the Vikings on the first series of the second half, throwing a screen pass to John Kuhn, who ran it in from the 9 for a 24-3 lead. The play was made possible by a Vikings penalty, as they were called for 12 men on the field during a Mason Crosby field-goal attempt. On the next play, Kuhn scored.
Ponder, the former Florida State star who had a sore right (throwing) elbow, threw the ball in warmups but was deactivated.
"It just wouldn't have been smart to put him at risk," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said in the postgame news conference.
That left Minnesota's offense in the hands of Webb, who, according to Elias, was the first quarterback in league history to start a playoff game without having attempted a pass during the regular season.
Kuhn had two touchdowns for Green Bay, which finally contained Adrian Peterson. The Vikings star, who gained 2,097 yards this season including 199 last week in a victory over the Packers that clinched a playoff berth, was held to 99 yards.
Webb's only highlight was a 50-yard TD to former Tampa Leto star Michael Jenkins late in the fourth quarter. Webb tripped over Packers linebacker Clay Matthews for a sack early in the second quarter and was called for intentional grounding on the next play.
Webb finished 11-for-30 for 180 yards.