Review & Grades: Vikings Beat Packers 38-26
Jclombardi reviews the Pack’s loss in the Vikings game.
Summary: Former Packer QB Favre three for 244 yards & 4 touchdowns
leading the Vikings past the Packers 38-26. After an awful first-half start, QB Rodgers led a furious comeback throwing 261 yards and 3 touchdowns. In the end, in a litmus test against a strong NFC team, the Packers failed and repeated ongoing game issues of poor execution, protection breakdown, dreadful rushing, and untimely penalties
Video Highlights: NFL. ESPN. Fox. CBS.
Game Reviews: Favre sweeps Packers out of the way. He Came, He Threw, He Conquered. Favre throws four TDs in victorious return to Lambeau. Favre deals Packers, their fans a painful dose of cruel reality.
Game Ball: 1. TE Havner 2. QB Rodgers 3. WR Jennings. 4. NT Pickett.
1. Bud Lea, a longtime sportswriter who was born and raised in Green Bay and started covering the team in 1954, said he’d never seen anything like it. “It’s surreal,” Lea said.
2. Former Packer QB Lynn Dickey likened the rift to a divorce. The couple is still in the bitter, feuding stage. “In the big picture, he’ll be back here retiring his jersey and people will love him,” Dickey said. “Everything will be forgotten in a few years.”
3. CB Woodson: I think it was disappointing for a lot of people. It’s just a loss, but I think a lot of people really wanted this one bad. We let a lot of people down today. That’s what we are. Right now we can’t win the big game.
4. Coach Philbin: We were out of balance, out of rhythm, out of tempo. Just did not play well in the first half. Didn’t have them ready to execute and we didn’t make plays. Not good enough.
5. Iconic Lesson–life, character, & winning is about intangibles: “Once we added Brett, everybody came together and got even closer,” DT Williams said. “He brings a mentality that’s old school–that everything’s OK, so just have fun with it. We take our job seriously, but we ain’t stressing.” Added TE Shiancoe, “He brings structure, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of winning. When they got back in the game and things tightened up, he kept his composure and was collected–you need that from your offensive leader, ‘cause it’s contagious. He’s not panicking, so the young guys aren’t.”
Report Card Grades–Good, Bad, & Ugly: LA vs SE.
Pass Offense—C vs C-. In the ugly first half, the Packers had a net 47 yards for total offense. QB Rodgers has 5 passes for 11 for just 38 yards and 4 sacks. At the first half, the Packers trailed 17-3. In the second half, Rodgers settled down leading a good comeback, but it wasn’t enough as the Packer came up short. As one reviewer wrote:
After a furious comeback, the Packers trailed, 31-26, and faced second and 3 at the Minnesota 28 with 6:26 left. The game was there for taking. On third and 8, Rodgers was very well-protected. Instead of hitting open receivers James Jones short or Greg Jennings to the left, Rodgers went deep down the left sideline and the pass to Donald Driver never had a chance to be completed.
While facing an intense pass rush, he completed 26 for 41 passes for 287 yards, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions, six sacks, and a 108.5 passer rating. He rushed 5 times for 52 yards. LT Lang and RT Barbre struggled in the game allowing sacks and pressures. RT Barbre didn’t allow a sack, but he did give up an unacceptable team-high six pressures, one more than Lang. C Wells has had better games. RG Sitton and LG Colledge had decent games. One reviewer added:
Rookie LT Lange started strong against DE Allen, but the All-Pro defensive end ultimately took over with three sacks. DE Edwards had his way early on the other side with RT Barbre for two sacks, four hits and two pass deflections.
Another reviewer correctly faulted QB Rodgers for a few sacks:
The rush that pressured Rodgers was 18 times and sacked him six, although half the sacks were at least partly on Rodgers. Two were coverage sacks when Rodgers needed to get rid of the ball. The other was the crucial setback in the fourth quarter, when RE Allen came free off the edge. Communication issues aside, it’s tough to fault to LT Lang too much for blocking down on the play.
Veterans LT Clifton and LT Tauscher stood on the sidelines watching the surreal spectacle. Another reviewer wondered about the game plan:
The Packers offense could have gotten in rhythm sooner had they committed to a short passing game. The Vikings sat in two-deep coverage much of the day, with their corners giving 4-yard cushions. They weren’t bailing out, but they were without their best perimeter tackler and might have been susceptible to the one-step routes and backside slants that have worked so well against off coverage.
WR Jennings had 8 receptions for 88 yards. WR Driver had 6 receptions for 63 yards. WR Jones had a key catch for 42 yards. Backup TE Havner had another great day with 2 receptions for 21 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Rush Offense—D vs D. The offensive line lost the battle in the trenches. Led by the QB, Packers rushed 19 times for 90. Finding few open lanes, sluggish RB Grant struggled getting only 10 carries for 30 yards & doing poorly in pass protection. Grant resorted to his bad habits before the Cleveland game by not having the vision and patience on his cutbacks and running into his own blockers. While the run game is struggling, if handoffs become an issue, there’s a problem. FB Kuhn broke two tackles on one checkdown and made a nice cut in traffic on a 4-yard carry.
Pass Defense—D vs F. Vikings QB Favre looked invincible against a pass-rush-challenged unit out of sorts in coverage. He completed 17 of 28 passes for 244 yards, 4 touchdowns, no sacks, and no interceptions. For a 40 year old man, Favre outmaneuvered the Packers’ pass rush to lead crucial game winning drives. As a reviewer summed up:
The lack of pressure on Favre compared to the pressure on Rodgers was laughable. Some of it was due to the differences in the offensive lines. Lang/Barbre did nothing to alleviate the concerns that Thompson did not have a very good plan in place to replace Clifton/Tauscher. Favre’s most underrated skill set: his ability to sense pressure in the pocket and move it around with slight adjustments, helping his linemen keep in front of the rushers.
Caper’s 3-4 blitz scheme was ineffective against the veteran Favre who read the too early blitzes and the disguised blitzes. As another reviewer added:
Favre’s 16-yard TD pass to WR Berrian was a perfect example–reading pressure and getting the ball out. It was another slot blitz, with Woodson, ROLB Matthews and ILB Bishop coming from the same side, and Favre hit Berrian an out-breaking route before FS Collins could come from beyond the far hash marks to make a play on the ball.
After reviewing the pass coverage, another review was more brutal especially about sluggish SS Bigby:
Favre’s biggest throw, a 51-yard touchdown to WR Harvin, was into triple coverage, but the secondary trio of FS Collins, S Bigby, and CB Woodson resembled “The Three Stooges” as they collided at the arrival of the downfield strike. On the previous play, SS Bigby was lax in zone coverage on a 19-yard pass to Berrian on third-and-17.
In another bad sign about what the players are privately saying about the effectiveness of the transition 3-4 defense, a headline said, “Defense vents frustration again: Jenkins says players are handcuffed by system.”
Rush defense—B- vs B-. The Vikings had 32 carries for 111 yards averaging 3.5 yards. RB Peterson rushed 25 times for 97 yards averaging 3.9 yards and one touchdown. The front seven had a good game, but it wasn’t enough giving up big plays.
Special teams—D vs D-. The kickoff coverage had a disastrous day. The Vikings started four drives at their own 30-yard line, one at the Packers 38, and one at the Packers 14. Vikings WR/KR Harvin stole the spotlight with a combined 261 offensive yards. He average 35 yards on returns with two game-changers led to touchdowns. The Packers’ struggles in kickoff coverage came down to not stopping Harvin from getting vertical and failing to make the tackle when they did. K Crosby was 2 for 3 in field goals. P Kapinos had 5 punts averaging 43.2 yards.
Coaching—D vs F. Outcoached, Outclassed, & Outplayed. If the team cannot win big home games, the team has serious issues. In two games against the Vikings, the Packers allowed 68 points and 14 sacks. Penalties are killing the Packers. Also, these type of games get people fired. The lack of execution, discipline, special teams coverage, and winning games point to both Coach McCarthy and GM Thompson. In the red zone, they were only 3 for 5. In 3rd down efficiency, they were 7 for 16. In 4th down efficiency, they were 0 for 1.
Overall Game—D. The team looked too tight with the prime time stage looking too big for them. At 4-3, the Packers are just an above average good team dominating poor teams, playing good against equal teams, and looking awful against elite teams.
Overall Game (CBS Sports)–C-. They fell behind and then didn’t have enough to come back. Rodgers tried, but the defense couldn’t stop the Vikings when it needed to. The offensive line had issues again.
CTV Good, Bad, & Ugly: Good–Pickett, Barnett & Havner; Bad–Barbre, Grant & Slocum; Ugly–McCarthy.
Rodgers vs Favre series: week 8. “Silver Fox” Vikings 7-1. Packers 4-3.
Commentary: The game was predictable making it hard to watch. The Packers failed another tough home test against the Vikings. Someday, after Favre finally does retire, he will return to Lambeau to a hero’s welcome to retire No. 4. Meanwhile, as the vets know, this Packers team lacks consistent playmakers, has inexperienced players in key positions, and has talent gaps raising management issues. As Leroy Butler said:
One team is undisciplined and maybe not as prepared and the other team has a team full of veterans, they’re smart, they’re well-coached, they understand the magnitude of the game. The game is not too big for them. I think the veteran factor separates these two teams, one being an elite team and the other a team trying to find out how good they really are. It shows up in penalties, it shows up in explosive plays, in decision-making. The Packers are playing a future game, a game for the future, but it’s right now. Right now, you have to have some veterans with your younger guys.
As the Monday quarterback “Up and Over” reviewer said, the Packers are a different team, but they have the same old problems. Finally, the sad thing is bloggers realize that GM Thompson and Coach McCarthy ceded 2009 to be a transition year. I had foreseen this chain of events along with scouts and the consequences: This falls on Ted Thompson’s shoulders. The man who’s hesitant to dip into free agency may just have to do so to save his job this upcoming offseason.
Preview: Easy test against win-less Tampa Bay Buccaneers.