So Green Bay kind of got crushed. So what? AT LEAST JERMICHAEL FINLEY HELPED MY FANTASY TEAM! Other than that, I haven't seen a game where everything went so wrong so quickly in a long, long time. If you want to read on, go ahead. But beware, all ye who enter here, for there is no good news to follow.
Every once in a while, there comes along a matchup that is almost too easy to exploit. Your opponent has a shaky offensive line made shakier by injuries to their best pass protector? Use your already superb pass rush to get after the quarterback. The other team's starting safety is out, leaving inexperienced and mistake-prone backups in his place? Take a shot down the field when you recognize a miscommunication. Your rival's starting MLB is coming off an ACL injury and is still regaining his mobility? Wait til he's matched up with a TE or WR, and then isolate him.
These mismatches and countless more were all present in Monday night's 30-23 shellacking in the Metrodome. I don't care if you're rolling with Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson, and Jared Allen or JaMarcus Russell, Larry Johnson, and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (post-injury); if you have mismatches and you manage to exploit them, you're going to succeed. And the Vikings succeeded while the Packers did not.
Exactly how poor was this week's performance? Well, Rodgers was sacked a season-high 8 times. David Carr cringes at that statistic. He also took a safety, lost a fumble, and threw his first interception. Donald Lee flat-out dropped a TD pass that could have closed the gap to 28-21 in the third quarter. Mike McCarthy wasted a challenge in the first quarter and used another one to turn a fumble into a safety against Green Bay. Daryn Colledge got hurt, inserting T.J. Lang into the game at left tackle. Antoine Winfield upended Ryan Grant as if Grant were a high schooler AND jumped a hitch-out route like it was in slow motion, getting an admittedly nice pick. Al Harris let Bernard Berrian go free on a deep route because Derrick Martin was supposed to help over the top...but was nowhere to be found. Chris Kluwe put the Packers at the 1 and 4 yard line to start two fourth-quarter drives, resulting in a safety for Minnesota and an eventual TD for Green Bay. Will Blackmon messed up his knee, leaving Green Bay's already iffy return units even thinner.
And it wasn't even just that Green Bay played awful. Minnesota played outstanding. Favre put on a clinic on how to exploit the defensive mismatches (see section above), putting up 271 yards and 3 scores. Adrian Peterson was limited (55 yards on 25 carries), but still made life difficult for the defense. Bernard Berrian, Percy Harvin, and Sidney Rice simply got open. Jared Allen got more than his fair share of sacks (4.5). The Vikings line did a better job protecting Favre than the Secret Service.
Look at it this way: Green Bay's 14 meaningful points came on fluky plays. Nine times out of ten, Jermichael Finley doesn't break a pair of tackles on his way to a 62-yard score, and nine times out of ten, Clay Matthews doesn't manage to rip the ball out of Adrian Peterson's hands. Rodgers' fourth quarter drive culminating in a 33-yard score to Jordy Nelson was impressive because it went 96 yards in less than a minute-and-a-half. But the failed conversion and ensuing onside kick left the score at 30-20 with little hope of regaining possession. They even teased us by getting the ball back and converting a field goal with :55 seconds left. But another failed onside kick (despite a pair of GREAT attempts by Mason Crosby) sealed the deal.
So, yeah, the margin of victory wasn't evident of a blowout, but let's be honest: it was a blowout. A blowout with a valiant effort at the very end, but a blowout nonetheless. Green Bay got beat like they stole something. Plain and simple.
(Now that all that is out of the way...a much-overlooked detail in this game was penalties. 7 for 57 yards for Green Bay compared to 2 for 10 for Minnesota...and there were a TON of missed calls when the Vikings had the ball. I'm not saying penalties scuttled Green Bay's chances, but the officiating wasn't even close to evenly distributed. If you're gonna call Donald Driver for holding outside the shoulder pads, you have to call Percy Harvin for the exact same thing on the very next possession.)