The 11*-5 Green Bay Packers lost to the 10-6 Minnesota Vikings in purple-bathed Minneapolis today. I’ve said many times it’s not fun to write about the Packers when they lose. Today is no different. It’s always hard to watch the Packers lose. The idea of them having to play the Vikings, and Adrian Peterson, for a third time in the same season has me mumbling incoherently to myself in introspective moments.
The good news is the Packers are still in the playoffs. The bad news is they will face the very same Vikings next weekend in the first round of those playoffs. Instead of having a first-round bye. The Packers knew what was at stake and they allowed Minnesota to get the better of them anyway. There is nobody to blame for that but the Packers themselves.
This one was so close though! If the tipped pass incompletion is called correctly on the field. If Williams doesn’t commit the hands penalty in the red zone to keep the drive alive. If Hayward catches that pick. If any of these plays are different the Packers probably win the game.
I don’t have a lot of detailed analysis of this game, but I have some Chest Bumps and Thumps (more than a few thumps) from the Packers – Vikings game for you:
Thump – to the entire Packers defense for their craptacular tackling. This one is simple. Peterson doesn’t go for 199 yards if the Packers tackle. Again, most of his yards came after initial contact. Wash. Rinse. Don’t repeat!
Chest Bump - to Greg Jennings for his awesome YAC. 85 was huge today. 120 yards, 2 TDs, and a lot of his yards were after the great catches he made. He kept drives alive with his hands and feet. He had great separation on both of his TD catches, too.
Thump - to the Packers special teams for their craptacular tackling. Simple #2. The Vikings don’t have 171 yards on kickoffs if the special teams guys are making tackles. Every time the Packers kicked off it seemed the Vikings were close to breaking one for a TD. That can’t happen again.
Chest Bump – to Jeremy Ross for his big returns. In this game Jeremy Ross was huge. Even though he didn’t get much yardage after his first couple of returns, they were all impressive. He was hemmed in and escaped. He ran through tackles. He did a good job catching the kicks in traffic. I think he’s fully capable of getting the job done as the Packers return man.
Thump – to the officials for their lousy performance. The officials were atrocious. I usually don’t throw a bump or a thump their way, but come on zebras…get the calls right on the field and we’re not having this discussion. The NFL had better not assign Carey’s Keystone Refs to the game at Lambeau. Please!
Thump - to Tramon Williams for his sub-standard effort. Tramon is a good corner – maybe the team’s best corner. He seems to play his best games against the better receivers though. He was definitely not at his best today. His hands penalty allowed the Vikings to keep a drive alive in the red zone and ended up costing the Packers a TD. He didn’t tackle well. Aw shucks, let’s be honest. He didn’t tackle. As in zero tackles today. 38 has to play better next week!
Chest Bump - to Mason Crosby for making everything he attempted today. Crosby hit a 51-yarder and a 40-yarder and all of his PATs. You can’t do better than that. It would have been a perfect day if he had delivered deeper kickoffs and touchbacks, but 2 was flawless when it came to points today. We need him to keep that up!
Thump - to MM for throwing the red flag on the Jones TD. I normally wouldn’t throw a thump at MM, but his emotional red flag toss when the refs messed up the Jones TD call was just that – an emotional response. Jordy did everything he could to try and make it go away. Predictable, right? When it would help the Packers the refs don’t see it. When it will hurt the Packers they don’t miss a thing. Rodgers was a bit over the top with his reaction to Mike’s mistake, too. The end result was a Packers TD, and the penalty on MM ended up costing nearly nothing, but he’s got to play his game smart like everybody else. Know the rule coach!
Chest Bump – to DuJuan Harris for a solid effort. Harris had 70 yards on 14 tough carries. He looked good doing it and he did everything he could to keep the Vikings pass rush honest. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough, but that wasn’t Harris’s fault. Grant started and had one 2 yard gain and a no gain. Harris definitely looked more explosive and fought hard for his yards. Nice job, 26!
Thump – to the Packers offensive line for giving up 5 sacks and too many hurries and hits on Rodgers. The Vikings have a good defensive line. In this game the Packers had what will likely be their best five guys on the O-line for the playoffs. The line did a decent job of opening holes for Harris but they whiffed on too many pass pro assignments to give them anything but a thump. I hope they play better next week. They need to.
Chest Bump - to B.J. Raji for a stout performance against Peterson today. Raji had four tackles of Peterson at the line of scrimmage, behind it, or just beyond it. He looked like a beast in there. That’s how the Packers coaches and we fans expect him to play. And that’s what he gets paid to do. But the finger wagging looks pretty stupid when the defense as a whole allows 28 to gain 199. It’s like a receiver going next-level with a celebration when he scores in a 55-7 loss – just plain goofy. Put the finger away 90 … just tackle with authority, baby.
Thump - to the Packers’ offense for their flat start. The Packers needed to come out of the gate fast in this game and they failed miserably. They need to find a way to avoid the flat starts. The playoffs won’t allow for that kind of slow speed feeling-out process. You’ve got to start like you mean it offense!
Thump - to the NFL for the absolutely stupefying rules about challenges and their usage. Look, this isn’t the first time officials have made mistakes and a team hasn’t been able to do anything about it because of the rules. I would argue no other team has been as profoundly affected by the rules and officials in general as the Packers have this season. None of that changes the fact that when a ref makes an obvious mistake, that everybody on the planet can see on their TVs and on the screens in the stadium, it should be corrected. Period. A mistakenly called play should not be allowed to stand because a team doesn’t have any time outs left in the half of play. The tipped pass play was a clear incompletion. It never should have been allowed … regardless of the procedures for replay.
Thump - to the Metrodome stadium pyro operator for the itchy trigger finger on the end-zone incompletion in the 4th quarter. Seriously – it’s over-the-top enough when they blow fireworks in a domed stadium because the home team scores anyway. Let’s wait a second to see if they really did score before you hit the squib there Sparky!
Here are some selected tweets I broadcasted during the game – last ones listed first. Scroll down to read from the beginning of the game. They frame many of the comments made above. Yes … following me on Twitter is like drinking from a fire hose. Wife Deneen said I should cut a few out of my post-game rants, so I did. You can’t stop me. You can only hope to contain me. Review them at your own risk:
- This one’s over. Anybody think the Packers win at Lambeau? I’m not convinced.
- Casey didn’t look like a DROY in that play. Lets Vikes convert 3rd and 11. Gotta make a play now 29! (Hayward missed his assignment and allowed Jenkins to go free for the first down catch).
- There’s the Raji finger wag again. Hating that when run D and tackling has been so craptacular today. 90 playing well though.
- Crosby even in on tackles. Because special teams tackling sucks so bad today. Come on defense. Seal this deal!
- Tied up at 34 with 2:54 left. Is this how you saw this one going down? I sure didn’t!
- Nelson with the TD catch. Can’t stop this Vikings!
- Great run by Harris for another first down. Pack driving. (11 yarder on the right side).
- Great catch by Jennings for another first down. (14 yarder to 85).
- Great catch by Boykin for the first. Don’t know if he can play again though. Tackle looked bad. (Boykin has 1 catch for 7 yards on the stat line, but it was his 4th down catch that kept the Packers drive alive. He ended up leaving the game on a cart).
- Barclay whiffs and Rodgers is grasped. Gotta have a score here.
- Jennings close but not close enough. This one’s way too close for comfort, but good teams win these games…not lose them. 34-27 Vikes. Go O (M.D. Jennings nearly picks Ponder in end zone but Vikings come up with the TD).
- Williams has had a crappy game and now he hands the Vikings a first down. Not good 38. (Williams with the needless and frankly stupid hands penalty).
- Fireworks for an incomplete pass? Only in the purple noisy! (pyro operator blows the fireworks for an incompletion).
- Who says Ponder can’t throw? (Ponder throws the 65 yarder to Wright).
- Crosby ties it up! 27 all. Game on defense. Time to earn those paychecks boys!
- Even MORE great YAC by Jennings for the first down.
- Nice uncalled facemask on Vikings 50 against Harris. Nice work refs!
- The Big Ragtop crowd sounds a little tense. Coming apart at the seams?
- Go Pack go cheers coming through in 5.1 surround sounds good!
- OMG the refs are more concerned about the challenge flag coming out than getting the call right. Dammit! (Carey seemed more concerned about making sure MM was penalized for the red flag toss than getting the call correct on the field).
- Yikeys I hope Carey’s Keystone Officials don’t do playoff games! Way too much ref BS going on in this one!
- Knee down…ball over goal line = TD (James Jones clearly had the ball over the goal line when his knee touched the turf. It didn’t have to take 12 minutes to figure that one out).
- Nelson gets behind the defense for 73 yards!
- Pack O has to score on every possession to win this game. They certainly can. Will they? They know what’s at stake.
- Costly penalty on 22. Not even disputable. (McMillian holding in the end zone).
- What is up with 38? He’s the target of way too many plays today…and the Vikings are making those plays. Not Williams.
- Another illustration of the inconsistency associated with replay review. Could have gone either way but went the other way anyway. (Replay of Peterson fumble could have been inconclusive or subjectively judged as correctly called on field).
- Yikes…never ever do that again Sam! Too bad the fumble’s gonna be reversed on review. Pack needed that! (Shields laterals to Jennings on the Peterson fumble return…that wasn’t really a fumble.)
- Raji needs to stop that finger wagging crap when they do stop 28. Not enough stopping of 28 going on to back it up. (B.J. took to wagging his pointer whenever he was involved in a short gain or no gain against Peterson. Raji played a good individual game but defense sucked at tackling).
- And another drive dies because Rodgers is running for his life. Passes taking too long to develop. Presnap goofs aren’t helping either. Go D (false starts and whiffs in pass pro).
- Harris is looking strong today. When he has room he is hard to stop!
- Love Cobb but give me more Ross as returner! (not another long return but he looked like a viable alternative to risking Cobb on returns to me today).
- Aw Casey!!! Wish you had that one back? I sure do! (Hayward had his hands on a pick but couldn’t close the deal).
- More crappy tackling. Peterson goes over 2000 for the season.
- How did 85 get that wide open? In the end zone? For the TD? 20-17 Vikings. Pack coming back. Look out purple!
- More great YAC by 85! First and goal baby!
- Pack drive starts well and then stalls. Gotta finish O!
- Crosby nails a 51 yarder. Nice work Mason! 20-10 Vikings at the half. Pack with first possession 2nd half. Time for a dominating 2nd half!
- And the sack kills the drive. Too bad they couldn’t get that play to Finley.
- 28 hid behind his blockers until he could get free. That’s cheating…isn’t it? (Peterson 18 yards to GB 8).
- The challenge rules need to be changed. Today if possible. No way a play like that tipped pass should be allowed to count. Period. (after Wright catch of tipped ball that wasn’t a catch can’t be challenged due to MM being out of TOs).
- Pack special teams tackling sucks today. Needs to improve now.
- Rodgers finally finds 85 in the back of the end zone for the TD. Sweet redemption for Jennings and 7 badly needed points for Packers. Go D!
- Jennings atones for the great play earlier by bobbling the sure TD catch. Aw crappola.
- That ladies and gentlemen is a TD (throw to Finley ends up not being a TD after all).
- Great YAC by 85 to get the first down!
- Jeremy Ross…your new return man for the Green Bay Packers!!!! (after second big return- 32 yards).
- Pre snap goof kills a promising play…nice (delay of game).
- Harris is here to play too! (after nice 12 yard run on first down).
- Ross came to play today! (after nice 44 yard return).
- OK we’ve spotted them 13. Time to wake up and play with some fire or it’ll get unwatchable really soon.
- Raji looks beat already. Defense looks like hammered sh*t right now (after Fox showed the shot of 90 with hands on hips shaking his head while Vikings shoving the ball down the defense’s throat).
- Rodgers can’t run the offense from the sidelines while he watches AP beat the defense.
- Here we go…Vikings will go on 4th and 1. (and make it too).
- Another short field for Vikings offense. Better tackle boys!
- Packers better tighten up or they’ll be seeing purple again next weekend!
- More crappy tackling. This won’t work Packers!
- There are a few Packers fans in the Big Convertible today.
- Nice challenge MM! You must have heard son John and I yelling for the red flag! (MM challenges the sack by CM3 and wins).
- Where is the tackling Packers? Gotta do better than this!
- Nice bend don’t break defense to hold Vikes to 3. Let’s go offense! (Vikings first possession).
With regard to the Fearsome Predictions I made prior to the game, I’m in good company having thought this one would go a different way. Yes dear readers…it’s time for another mulligan. Nelson did have a 73-yard reception off play action but it wasn’t for a TD. Rodgers did throw for well over 300 yards (365), but it was a loss. Peterson didn’t get the record, but what was he, like 9 yards short? My projected numbers for Packers sacks, picks, total yards rushing … all turned out to be just so much overly-optimistic Packers-goggled drivel. Oh well. At least I don’t write for a Bears or Lions site!
The essential math is still that as the NFC’s third seed the 11*-5 Green Bay Packers will next host … the 10-6 Minnesota Vikings on Saturday night 1/5/2013 at 1900 CST on NBC.
I have the same concerns most of you do. Will Woodson and Cobb be able to go? Will the injuries to Nelson, Matthews, Boykin, and Worthy in today’s game keep them out of the playoff rematch? Will Carey’s Keystone Refs work the game at Lambeau? Will I grow so exasperated with Collinsworth’s seemingly extemporaneous, certainly monotonous, and assuredly superfluous commentary that I’m forced to turn the 5.1 surround audio down so I can’t hear him?
How do the Packers make a big enough difference in less than a week to pull a victory out of their helmets? How much difference can they make in their woeful tackling with the wonderful new NFL policies about contact in practice? I know what my coaches would have done to us had any of the teams I played on tackled the way the Packers did today. We’d probably still be out there doing live 1-on-2 and 2-on-2 drills. No bags. Full pads. No dummies. Full speed.
Tackling sucked today. If it sucks on Saturday night it’ll be another early playoffs exit for the Packers. The Vikings will still have Adrian Peterson. The Packers will still have to tackle him. Something’s got to give. Don’t miss this one.
Who cares about the bye?
Bring on the Vikings!
Go Pack GO!