I couldn’t have been more wrong about last week’s game at the MallofAmerica/HubertHHumphrey Metrodome.
I underestimated the motivations that the Vikings had in their favor and, quite frankly, underestimated the Vikings. I also underestimated the Vikings fans, as I thought they might have sold their tickets for the Packers game before it became a meaningful game.
I was wrong.
It’s not the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but while I counted on AP to be great, I didn’t count on Christian Ponder to beat the Packers. It isn’t necessarily reflected in the stat line, but Ponder beat the Packers, not Peterson.
The Vikings played the possession game and did it very effectively using AP. Keeping Rodgers and the offense off the field is part of any effective game plan against the Packers, but as dominant as AP was, it took Ponder to extend drives on third down. The Vikings converted 50 percent of their third downs and ALL of those were either completions or scrambles by Ponder (he also scrambled for nine yards on third and 10 and AP did the rest on fourth).
My point is, Peterson played like himself, but Ponder moved the chains. I did notice lapses in coverage, which may or may not have been a result of attempting to shut down Peterson, but the fact is that Ponder completed throws he usually wouldn’t be able to make.
AP averaged 4.7 yds on first down, but while he made a first down in four of those carries (four carries for 62 yards). He gained only 2.7 YPC on first down otherwise. Christian Ponder had to make plays to rectify that and he did. While AP’s numbers were nearly identical to the game at Lambeau, Ponder was better at the Metrodome.
Essentially what it comes down to is this: In order to win the game, we need to stop Ponder, not Peterson, though stopping Peterson would help. There is a reason the Packers won by 11 at Lambeau and lost by 3 in Minnesota. At Lambeau they played to win and let AP be great. In Minny they played to stop AP, as great as he is, and they allowed Ponder to beat them.
If the Packers focus on stopping AP instead of playing solid defense, the result will be similar to last week. If they want to play in San Francisco they need to stifle the rest of the Vikings offense.