Green Bay Packs It Up, Minnesota Packs It In

Posted: November 15, 2011 by Kodi in NFL, Pack It Up, Purple Pride

Aaron Rodgers continued to show why he is the best player in football, hands down

Green Bay beat the Vikings for the 4th time in a row and have won 9 of the last 12 meetings

Green Bay and Minnesota’s season seem to be going in polar opposite directions

Green Bay welcomed the Minnesota Vikings to Lambeau Field for the second meeting between the two teams in a month. The Packers traveled to Minneapolis and defeated the Vikings in one of their closest games of the year leaving the Metrodome with a 33-27 victory. In their October meeting the Vikings were starting a rookie QB fresh out of the box that rejuvenated a deflated Minnesota team and got them back into the game competing until the final drive.

Peterson had runs of 25,29 and 54 yards against the Packers in October  but other than that he had 21 rushes for 68 yards. If you take away Peterson’s next two long runs of 11 and 10 yards then AP had just 19 rush attempts for 47 yards. Of course Peterson finished the day with 24 rushes for 175 yards and a TD but Green Bay knew that they had to eliminate those three huge runs. Coming into Monday Night Football Green Bay had allowed the second most passing yards but ranked in the top 10 against the run. The Packers focused on stopping the best RB in the league and challenged Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier to beat them with Christian Ponder’s arm.

Green Bay was coming off of an interesting battle with the San Diego Chargers after the Packers took a huge lead and nearly allowed the Bolts to tie the game. A similar scenario happened when the Packers were in Minneapolis, they took a 33-17 lead and slept walked through the 4th quarter while Ponder and the Vikings put up 10 points and had a chance to win the game. Green Bay’s Head Coach Mike McCarthy talked before the game how important it was for his team to finish off games and stop letting teams get so many late game opportunities.

That is a defensive problem and everyone on that side of the ball for Green Bay knew that they hadn’t been playing up to the level they did last year or what they had expected coming into this year. This game against the Vikings was a statement game for the defense and as CB Charles Woodson said after the game “we set the standard for the rest of the year. We showed ourselves how well we can play. We just have to keep it up and stay focused on doing the little things right and going out there and playing good football every week”.

Green Bay had won the opening coin toss and elected to defer to get their defense on the field and set the tone of the game but nobody was prepared for what happened, not even Packers fans. Green Bay stopped Peterson on 1st down for a 2 yard gain, pushed WR Percy Harvin out for a 6 yard gain and on 3rd and 2 Ponder sailed a pass to TE Visanthe Shiancoe. Some thought that there could have been a penalty flag on the Packer defender shadowing Shiancoe but the incidental contact didn’t happen until after the ball had sailed over his head. The Packers held the Vikings to an opening drive 3 and out and Vikings Punter Chris Kluwe booted the ball down to Packers return man Randall Cobb.

Cobb caught the ball at the Packers 20 yard line and immediately burst towards the middle of the field. One cut and Cobb put on the jets as he scampered in untouched punt return TD with less than two minutes off of the clock. “The guys gave me room to work and be able to see the field a little bit, once I saw the opening, I just hit is as hard as I could and once I got through I just put my head down and wouldn’t let anybody catch me” Cobb told reporters about the play after the game.

Randall Cobb’s play was the Packers first rookie to return a punt for a TD in Packers history. Cobb also returned a kick for a TD in the NFL season opener and with his accomplishment in primetime on Monday he became the 4th Packer to return both a punt and kick for a TD and first rookie. The last Packer to return a punt and kickoff for a TD was WR Roell Preston in 1998.Green Bay had jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead and Minnesota’s offense was back on the field within seconds.

The next drive Christian Ponder was blown up by Clay Mathews for the LBs first sack since the last time Green Bay met Minnesota and just his 4th of the year. Mathews lit up Ponder and the rookie QB lost the football but luckily for him his RB picked up the ball and Minnesota kept possession, just to lose it 3 plays later. Randall Cobb fair caught the punt and Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense came onto the field for the first time.

On their very first offensive play LT Marshall Newhouse was beaten by Vikings DE Jared Allen and Rodgers tried to slip away to the left side of the pocket. The ball was knocked out of Rodgers hand by his own leg and the QB had to just fall on the ball for a 7 yard loss. He scrambled on the next play picking up 9 yards and creating a manageable 3rd down. Rodgers hit WR Donald Driver down the left sideline with a jump ball placed above Viking CB Asher Allen’s head. It was a good pass but an incredible catch and the Packers were able to convert and eventually score on a 24 yard TD catch by WR Greg Jennings.

Minnesota got the ball back and on another early 3rd down Ponder was able to find Shiancoe for a 33 yard gain. Two plays later Harvin hauled in a pass that would have had the Vikings on the Packers 2 yard line but he was called for offensive pass interference and the ball was brought back to the 43. Peterson ran for 13 yards and gave the Vikings a first down at the 30 yard line. A 1 yard run and an incomplete pass led to another 3rd down pass attempt to Visanthe Shiancoe. This time he and Charles Woodson and Shiancoe battled for the ball and the play was originally called incomplete, to immediately being changed to an interception and then being reversed back to an incomplete pass after video review.

The Vikings would get a chance to kick a 47 yard field goal and the Packers all-time leading scorer and current Kicker for Minnesota, Ryan Longwell, came out and made the kick. The Vikings however were flagged for a false start penalty on Fred Evans and Longwell tried to kick a 52 yarder into the wind but the trusty veteran doesn’t have the leg power outdoors anymore and left it short. Green Bay had a short field but a Jared Allen sack stalled things and the Packers were forced to kick a 25 yard field goal, increasing their lead to 17-0.

The next drive the Vikings picked up a first down on a 13 yard run by Christian Ponder but two plays later the rookie QB was intercepted. It was a flea flicker, Ponder handed it off to Peterson who then tossed it back to Ponder and the QB chucked the ball downfield to a double covered WR Devin Aromashadu. Packers CB Tramon Williams was underneath the WR and S Charlie Peprah was over the top which allowed Williams to under-cut the throw and jump in front of a leaping Aromashadu. Williams returned the ball 21 yards and gave it back to Green Bay’s offense on the 23 yard line. The Packers went 3 and out and the final possession’s by each team were uneventful and went into the locker room with a 17-0 lead.

The first drive of the second half the Packers were working their way down field until they were forced with a decision to make on 4th and 2 at the Vikings 35 yard line. Longwell had missed a 52 yard field goal in this direction earlier in the game and that may have made it easier to keep Rodgers and the offense on the field. Rodgers found WR Jordy Nelson for a 12 yard gain and two plays later hit Nelson again for a 17 yard TD. The Vikings got the ball back and were forced to punt on their 5th play of the drive but WR Randall Cobb muffed the catch and the Vikings had recovered the ball on the 14 yard line. It took just two plays for the Vikings to get in the end-zone with a 3 yard Adrian Peterson TD run.

Cobb clearly looked agitated on the sidelines and was nearly foaming at the mouth to return the ensuing kick-off. Cobb took the ball from 5 yards deep in the end-zone and returned it 55 yards to midfield and told reporters that after the game “I went out there and I ran pissed off. I was anxious to get back out there and just try to make something happen”.

Cobb does have 2 return TDs this year but McCarthy told reporters everything isn’t going perfect for the young man from Kentucky; “He has three fumbles in nine games and that’s not cutting it” McCarthy said emphatically. Clearly there was some resentment for giving away what would be the Vikings only points all game because of a muffed catch but in the end McCarthy admitted “at the end of the day, it’s about points. When all three phases win as they did tonight, you have a chance for that outcome”.

The Packers eventually added another TD when Rodgers hit RB John Kuhn for a 9 yard passing TD and would connect with WR Jordy Nelson for his 2nd receiving TD of the game and Rodgers 4th passing TD. Minnesota was down 38-7 with just under eleven minutes left in the game and the Packers decided it was time to bring in their back-up QB, Matt Flynn. Flynn would eventually add a rushing TD of his own and put the Packers up 45-7, which would end up being the final score of the game.

The 38 point beating is the worst the Vikings loss to Green Bay since the NFL merger in 1961 and the worst loss to the Pack since being shutout 34-0 in Lambeau during the 2007 season. After letting a lot of teams back into game Green Bay’s defense made sure to play tight and the Packers offense moved methodically with Rodgers at the helm. Rodgers finished the game 23-30 with 250 passing yards, 4 TDs and a QB Rating of 140.3 which is impressive but it was also his 3rd straight game with a QBR of +140, a NFL record. Rodgers is the NFL leader in passing TDs and is on pace to throw for 50+ TDs and his team has the chance to go undefeated.

Rodgers however isn’t worried about the numbers. “yeah not really thinking about that to be honest. We’re thinking about winning our division and getting a home playoff game and all that will take are of itself. I just want to be efficient and consistent and get us in good situations. If we’re doing that and I’m nor turning the ball over we’re going to be in every game”. Rodgers continued “we try to go 1-0 every week. I know I said that last week. We’ve got nine of them right now banked and we’re going to try to get 10 this Sunday”.

If Rodgers plays as well as he has all season and the Packers defense plays anything like they did on MNF the rest of the league better watch out. Green Bay held Adrian Peterson to 51 yards and a TD on 14 carries letting him scamper for a 13 yard gain for a game high. The defense stopped Peterson and didn’t let him break those long runs that he did in their first meeting. They also held Christian Ponder to just 190 passing yards and a pick, going 16-34 and recording a QBR of 52.3 but don’t tell Jared Allen that because when he was asked about QBR he said “I don’t even know what passer rating means. I don’t know how to calculate it”.

Green Bay got some big plays out of LB Clay Mathews, 5 tackles, 2 sacks, a tackle for loss and 2 more QB hits. Mathews had just 3.5 sacks coming into the game compared to the 10.5 he had at this time last season but the numbers don’t tell the whole story. “I think we’ve known we can play at this level. It’s just a matter of getting it done. . . It’s just a matter of putting it all together, and that’s what we did tonight. It feels good to play the way in which we’re capable of” Mathews said relieved after a dominating win Monday.

Mathews has been getting pressure on the QB but constant chip blocks and double teams have taken away his ability to record sacks but not to rush the QB. He has flushed the passer out of the pocket multiple times in every game and although he didn’t sack them he may have forced one of the Packers league leading 13 INTs to be thrown early. Charles Woodson has 5 a team leading 5 interceptions this season and nearly had 2 more.

The 14 year soon-to-be Hall of Famer from Michigan has been eyeing the football like a hawk attempting to cut in front of unsuspecting QBs arrant throws. Woodson wasn’t able to hold onto those 2 pick attempts but he did lead the team in tackles and could be seen flying around all over the field. “We owed it to ourselves to play a game like that, we owed it to our fans our team and especially our offense, who’s been playing out of their minds this year. We needed a game like that. But it’s still one game” Woodson said Monday night.

The Green Bay Packers know that their play will be under strict scrutiny as they inch close and closer to an undefeated season but they have the right approach and their journey continues this Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 

 

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