The 12*-5 Green Bay Packers did what they had to do and defeated the 10-7 Minnesota Vikings 24-10 at frozen Lambeau field Saturday night. The Vikings go home. The Packers travel to San Francisco next Saturday for their next playoff game!
The idea that allowing an opposing RB 99 yards can be viewed as a success seems to require some kind of perspective adjustment, but Peterson was not the factor he had been in the previous two games between the Packers and the Vikings this season. Peterson was not allowed a run longer than 18 yards this time around. That was the primary difference in this game. In both previous games AP had several runs longer than that and each time it looked as if the defense was completely inept. Not on Saturday night though. Well done Packers defense!
How did they limit Peterson? The Packers tackled. First and foremost, independent of scheme changes and personnel differences, the Packers tackled. It certainly helped that the Packers were going against Joe Webb instead of Ponder. It also helped that the Packers primarily emphasized a single-level defense, as opposed to defense-in-depth, at the line of scrimmage. It was great to get Charles Woodson back too. But individual players with opportunities to tackle Peterson, as a general rule, did just that. Peterson is a great back. But as I said in my pregame piece, he’s just like any other running back in one regard. Tackle him using technically proficient methods and he’ll go down just like any other RB. He did.
Offensively Rodgers threw to 10 different receivers. The running game was clicking, if not exactly overwhelming. Several times Rodgers made those plays only he can make. He rolled out and threw 35 yards with pinpoint accuracy downfield. He shuffled around in the pocket to get just enough time to deal a first down flip to one of his RBs or a quick pass to a WR. No picks. 3 sacks, and a couple of those were because he held on to the ball too long. But the inescapable fact is that Rodgers will not lose a game for the Packers. Add another chapter to Mr. Rodgers’ legacy!
Here are some Chest Bumps (plenty) and Thumps (just a couple) from the Vikings – Packers Wild Card Playoff game for you to ponder (pun intended):
Chest Bump- to the Packers defenders for tackling. This cannot be emphasized enough. When the Packers defense tackles the way they did Saturday night they should win every game they play. The LBs also did a great job of setting and holding the edge so Peterson couldn’t get outside. They’ll need to keep their tackling suits on going up against Gore and the 49ers next Saturday night in San Fran.
Thump- to Mike McCarthy for continuing to use Randall Cobb for punt returns. Perhaps MM has concerns about Jeremy Ross catching punts. There could be several reasons for his approach. But Cobbernicus is an important and integral part of the Packers offense. To risk him in the lost potentially violent plays in any football game seems like a dicey proposition. At least think about it, OK Mike?
Chest Bump- to Sam Shields for his tackling and his pick. Sam made a couple of impressive one-on-one tackles of AP, led the team in tackling, and his pick was a tough catch that seemed to deflate the Vikings just a little bit more than they already were. Sam has stepped up and he’s playing good football. There were a couple of times he was beaten in coverage but Webb couldn’t deliver on the throw because of the improved pass rush. Nice work overall 37!
Chest Bump- to Clay Matthews. The Packers defense really looks different when 52 is on the field. Clay had two sacks, including the strip sack of Webb on 4th down. Granted, he collected a sack by being in position to have Webb trip over him, but a sack is a sack. His presence in the defense, much like Woodson’s, seems to make everybody else play better.
Chest Bump- to DuJuan Harris for his running and his pass catching. Harris had 100 all-purpose yards and he quick as well as strong on his runs. He was able to slip out of the backfield or several dump-off passes. The one catch he didn’t make early in the game on third down was at his feet and he was moving away from it. I think he made up for it with his touchdown and his overall strong performance.
Chest Bump- to the entire team for doing the little things well. The Packers had fewer penalties than the Vikings did. Both were line of scrimmage infractions. Ordinarily I would probably say there’s no excuse for that, but the one on Kuhn on the kickoff was marginal and Neal’s encroachment wasn’t a factor in keeping anything going for Minnesota. There were no false starts. No illegal hands. No DPI or OPI. Golly NFL…can we get this crew to work the rest of our playoff games this year?
Thump- to the entire team for not displaying killer instinct. OK, yes I know they won the game. But the Packers were playing good football for long stretches, interspersed with periods where the Vikings looked like they might climb back into the game. Case in point: The Jenkins TD. It came with 3:39 left in the game, which was admittedly garbage time as it turned out. But had the Vikings been able to execute the onsides kick they tried after the TD things could have turned sour in a big hurry. I was looking for another 55 point performance the way the Packers doubled up before/after halftime. I still haven’t seen a dominant game for a whole game from this team.
Chest Bump- to John Kuhn for two touchdowns. Kuhn was soundly thumped on Twitter when his short yardage play at the goal line was stopped. Lang whiffed on his block allowing the Vikings D lineman contact behind the line. Nobody else would have done any better. But Kuhn’s touchdown run was a thing of beauty and the catch and run for his other TD was awesome. Kuhn always seems to come alive in the playoffs. Looking good 30!
Chest Bump- to the Packers pass rushers for putting the heat on Webb. I think every lineman and linebacker had at least one pressure or hit on Webb in this game. Webb was in the grasp when he threw one toss-up and was called for intentional grounding the other time he made the same mistake. It wasn’t just because he’s inept. It was because the Packers pass rush was getting after him. They turned in a much better performance than their effort in the last game of the season. Nice work big fellas!
Thump- to Randall “Cobbernicus” Cobb for giving up ground on punt returns. A couple of times 18 gave up yards he had no chance of getting back on his punt returns. He’s gotta stop doing that. I get it…the potential for yards to be gained by giving up a few to get around the first coverage man is a temptation, but it’s a mirage Randall. Resist the temptation!
Chest Bump- to Charles Woodson for making his first game back an impactful one. 21 had four tackles and two assists against the Vikings including a couple of nice one-on-one stops of AP. I think the defense plays better when he’s on the field. I love the new guys, but give me old Charles when it’s time for a big play in a big game. He delivers.
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. Deal with it. Wife Deneen said I should cut a few of these out of my post-game rants, so I did. You can follow these live if you follow me on Twitter. Review these the day after they were shared at your own risk:
– Bring on the 49ers! Packers play at San Fran next Saturday. 12 quarters to another Lombardi trophy!
– This one’s in the books as a 24-10 Packers WIN! Look for the postgame analysis with chest bumps and thumps on http://LombardiAve.com . Go PACK
– Aw come on defense! Who missed the assignment on the Jenkins TD? (Jenkins was wide open.)
– Oh FCOL get Rodgers out of there. Did we sub the O line and I didn’t notice? (Rodgers is sacked).
– Williams with the nice pass defensed and it’s Packers ball. One more score and Wayne starts talking about playoff cutlery! (On third and 10 and again on fourth and 4 Tramon denied the Vikings. As it turned out Wayne thought Kuhn’s second TD was the dagger. Go figure.)
– Thanks for tackling Mr. Woodson. Glad to have you back. (Charles sticks his nose in and makes another tackle).
– MM PLEASE let Ross return punts too! Cobbernicus is too important to risk on punt returns!
– Too bad Webb overthrew even Woodson on that first down pass! (Woodson, even though he was deep coverage, was the closest receiver on this Webb overthrow).
– Shucks. Nothing to show for two turnovers. No killer instinct tonight. Better get some if the expectation is to keep playing in 2012 Packers. (Packers O can’t move the ball after 37’s pick or the muffed punt recovery).
– I knew Webb would throw one and sure enough he does! Sam37 makes the tough sideline catch for the pick.
– Wood blitzes…Webb runs for the first down. (Just an observation…Webb did run for a first down.)
– Plenty of time left. Pack needs to keep pedal on the floorboard! (Pack D looked a little lethargic at this point.)
– Claymaker strikes again! Strip sack of Webb on 4th down. Pack O can take over and give KUHN a shot at the hat trick.
– Way to tackle Sam 37! Nice work! (Shields with another one-on-one stop of AP).
– Walden with another nice stop of 28. Keep it up Erik! (Walden and the other LBs set and held the edge effectively all night).
– KKKKKKUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHHNNNNNNNNNN again. You can’t stop him…you can only hope to contain him. 24-3 PACK! (The Vikings do pay out for the free first down. Kuhn’s TD catch/run and helicopter spin at the goal line).
– Thank you Vikings for the free first down. You’ll pay for that one! (Vikings stopped Packers close to the goal line and then they had 12 guys on the field for the FG try. First down!)
– C Mouth perhaps the last commentator in the galaxy to make the Harris in 2012 to Starks in 2010 comparison. Great insight Chris! (My obligatory shot at Collinsworth. He wasn’t as bad as usual Saturday night, but he wasn’t bearable either).
– Watch out America. Rodgers is taking over. He has assumed control! (Rodgers was looking very sharp early in the second half).
– Kuhn with the TD and it’s 17-3 Pack at the half. Pack with ball first in 2nd half. Step on their throats and don’t let them up Packers.
– Hometown Neenah gets what’s probably its first ever mention on national TV. Hope they liked their stay. We did! (Commentators mentioned Neenah, my Wisconsin hometown, a couple of times because they had to stay there…all the GB accomodations were booked).
– KKUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHNNNNNNN!!!!! (Kuhn scores on a 3 yard TD run. Kuhn Call sounded great).
– Welcome back Jordy Nelson! (Nelson has a couple of huge catches in the drive toward the Kuhn rushing TD).
– Ease up on Kuhn people. Lang missed his block. Nobody would have done any better. And it’s not cuz I’m wearing a 30 jersey either! (Kuhn’s 3rd and 1 run that didn’t go anywhere.)
– Big Pack sack! D line getting after it tonight! (Walden got the credit but Webb was surrounded).
– Crosby delivers and it’s 10-3 Packers. Should be 14-3 but Pack ball control will limit Vikings opportunities. 28 can’t hurt Pack from bench.
– Yes…4th and 5 converted. Risk…reward.
– Crabtree going all next level with the hurdle. (Tom catches a pass and hurdles the first defender. Then he gets hit three times in the way to the ground.)
– Come on Cobbernicus…don’t give up ground on returns. My man love for 18 knows no bounds but bring on Ross for punt returns please MM!
– Nice pass defensed by Sam 37.
– Drive stalls and Vikes get ball back. WWPD…What would Ponder do?
– Smith shows Packers DBs how to tackle.
– About freaking time refs. Webb can’t just put the ball up for grabs like that to avoid a sack. But he can do it all night long if picked! (The second Webb toss-up to avoid a sack).
– End of 1st quarter for the second time tonight. Packers up 7-3. (Because the challenge put time back on the first quarter clock the quarter ended twice in the game.)
– Nice challenge MM! Packers running game looking dangerous! (Review of the Harris rushing reaching TD).
– OK Grant and Harris both look strong tonight. The kind of problem MM can’t have enough of. (Grant looked good on the screen to get the ball down to the 9 for Harris).
– Act like you’ve caught a pass 4 a first down before 88! (Finley again goes a little nuts with his first down catch celebration. Nice catch. Keep playing 88).
– Looks like Red Batty put a lineman’s facemask on Wood’s helmet too. Bring it 21! (Charles is sporting a new lineman’s facemask on his brain bucket).
– I guess the in the grasp thing doesn’t apply anymore,eh? (Webb was in the grasp when he tossed the ball toward a gaggle of guys. Too bad nobody could pick it off).
– That was lame. Oh well. D back up after the punt. Better get used to Webb run first pass second. Until Pack D stops it anyway. (Packers fail to keep their drive alive).
– Webb completes one to the Lambeau turf and the D holds Vikes to 3. Pack O up next. Unless Jeremy Ross takes it 2 the house!
– Nice to have you back Chuck Wood! (Woodson makes his first one-on-one tackle of AP).
– Packers better man up against Webb. No way they can let that happen and still win this game. (Webb made some yardage on the ground early. Gladly it didn’t continue).
– Is it just me or is Wood wearing bigger shoulder pads? He looks determined! (Charles looked very intense during the pregame. Glad it carried over to the game!).
– Get C Mouth a new mic please. Not that I really want to hear him but the ground fault hum sounds craptacular in 5.1 surround! (CC’s hand mic had a bad connector during the two shot in pregame. Too bad we could still hear him over the hum!).
– Settling in for Vikes vs Pack. No Ponder. Webb instead. Problem? We’ll see but Packers gotta tackle anyway. Go Pack GO! (Twitter was blowing up with posts about Ponder being out and Webb being a running QB and that it would be like having two Petersons on the field).
With regard to the Fearsome Predictions I made prior to the game, as usual I hit a few and a few weren’t even close. Matthews had two sacks. Rodgers was sacked three times. Shields did get a pick. And the defense did limit Peterson to fewer than 100 yards. Harris had a TD on the ground. Cobb didn’t throw or complete a pass (admittedly I took a flyer on that one), but he did have some rushing yards. Rodgers didn’t throw for over 300 yards nor was he second in rushing yards. Oh well…you guess some right, you guess some wrong. Hey…they won. Besides- there is a disclaimer in place!
The Packers next play in San Francisco next Saturday night against the 49ers. That will be a great game! Neither team is the team it was on opening day. It’s my belief that Packers have a more versatile offense and a much better defense than they did on opening day. The rookie DBs in particular have made the Packers D better over the course of this season. The 49ers have a different QB, with different capabilities, but I still think the Packers are the better total team.
The Packers said goodbye to the bye and so long to the Vikings! Bring on the 49ers! Go Pack GO!