Paging LT Levi Jones. They can't sign him quick enough. The Packers played a really strong game, but the story will be the problems at left tackle. I try hard not to overreact to a bad game, but this wasn't one bad game. It's been bad all season, topped off by the disaster in Cincinnati when DE Antwan Odom had 5 sacks, and now the 4.5 sacks by DE Jared Allen. I actually can't believe Allen only had 4.5 sacks; it seemed like he had 10. LT Daryn Colledge was bad, and backup LT T.J. Lang was, if anything, even worse. Lang deserves some slack since it was his first NFL appearance. Though LT Chad Clifton should be back after the bye week, there has to be a Plan B. Hopefully Jones isn't holding out for a starting job, and will gladly accept a seat on the bench and a couple million dollars if Clifton is healthy.
Lost in the left tackle disaster was the play of SS Derrick Martin. It was technically his 2nd start, but he didn't play much last week in St. Louis. He looked lost on the big 42 yard pass play to WR Percy Harvin. He then blew the deep help on the 31 yard TD pass early in the 3rd quarter to WR Bernard Berrian, and got CB Al Harris, literally, stomping mad. He was then benched in favor of CB/S Jarrett Bush. It's the same situation as with Clifton; SS Atari Bigby should be back after the bye week.
It would have been a great win, but it wasn't a must-win. There's still a lot of season left, the Packers only have 2 losses, and the Vikings aren't going to go unbeaten. There was a lot I liked in this game. The run defense was outstanding, especially in the 4th quarter. And QB Aaron Rodgers had almost 400 yards passing despite no blind side protection. Up next week is the bye week, then two winable games against the Lions and Browns. Now they can focus on going 4-2 and see what the NFC North looks like at that point.
My game recap from the play-by-play at NFL.com.
(9:28) 12-A.Rodgers sacked at MIN 33 for -9 yards (sack split by 69-J.Allen and 96-B.Robison). FUMBLES (69-J.Allen), RECOVERED by MIN-52-C.Greenway at MIN 33. 52-C.Greenway to MIN 33 for no gain (72-J.Spitz). Green Bay challenged the fumble ruling, and the play was Upheld. (Timeout #1 at 09:22.)
They only lost the game by 7 points. So giving up a fumble on the Vikings 24 yard line was as good as giving up 3 points. It's hard to blame QB Aaron Rodgers for this fumble when both his tackles are beaten to the outside and the pocket collapsed.
(3:26) 4-B.Favre pass short left to 81-V.Shiancoe for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN.
A really good play by QB Brett Favre. He looked one way, and then went back to the other side of the field for the TD. Of course it's amazing what you can do when you have time to throw...
(2:27) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass deep middle to 88-J.Finley for 62 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
I think we've all been waiting to see something like this from TE Jermichael Finley. He uses his speed to get open and downfield, and his strength to fight into the end zone.
(11:47) 12-A.Rodgers pass short right intended for 85-G.Jennings INTERCEPTED by 26-A.Winfield at MIN 23. 26-A.Winfield to MIN 23 for no gain (85-G.Jennings).
Another turnover deep in Vikings territory that almost certainly took 3 points off the board for the Packers. But this was a great play by CB Antoine Winfield. He had a great game.
(7:20) (Shotgun) 4-B.Favre pass short left to 87-B.Berrian to GB 13 for 16 yards (29-D.Martin).
I can't remember: was this the play when Favre had about 6 seconds to throw as the Packers 3-man rush got nowhere near him? The Vikings entered the game as one of the worst pass blocking teams in the league, and the Packers got no sacks. They didn't even put much pressure on him. The pass rush is officially broken.
(3:30) 28-A.Peterson left end to MIN 42 for -2 yards. FUMBLES, RECOVERED by GB-52-C.Matthews at MIN 42. 52-C.Matthews for 42 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
The Packers defense turned RB Adrian Peterson into a below average back in this game. Great play by DE Cullen Jenkins, who led the push forward, and by LB Clay Matthews to grab the ball. I'm a big fan of Matthews, although I'm not of fan of his pass rush. I'd almost prefer they gave rookie LB Brad Jones a chance on 3rd downs to rush the passer, which was something he did pretty well during the preseason. Matthews should still play a lot, but he can take time away from LB Brady Poppinga. The only times I've noticed Poppinga this season is when he's losing back side contain on a cut-back run.
(10:45) 4-B.Favre pass deep left to 87-B.Berrian for 31 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
As mentioned above, the play that probably ended SS Derrick Martin's career as a starting safety.
(4:54) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass short left to 25-R.Grant to MIN 5 for 20 yards (25-T.Johnson).
I don't know what to make of RB Ryan Grant anymore. He seemed to miss some big cut-back opportunities for big gains, but he also had a solid game with 4.6 yards/carry and 4 receptions for 50 yards. I guess 2007 was a magic season for him, but he remains a solid NFL back.
(4:03) (Shotgun) 25-R.Grant right guard to MIN 1 for 4 yards (56-E.Henderson).
(3:34) 30-J.Kuhn left guard to MIN 1 for no gain (52-C.Greenway).
(3:04) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass short right to 88-J.Finley to MIN 1 for no gain (51-B.Leber) [91-R.Edwards].
(2:18) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete short middle to 86-D.Lee.
Just a back-breaking series. 1st and goal at the Vikings 5 yard line, and they were stopped on three consecutive great plays by the Vikings defense. I can't remember watching a series of 4 plays that were all so close to a TD. Unfortunately the last one was a drop by TE Donald Lee. It would have made the game 21-28. In hindsight, Mike McCarthy should have gone for a field goal. But the defense was struggling so much up to that point, it felt like a shootout, and the Packers had to do something to make up the difference on the scoreboard.
(13:00) 5-C.Kluwe punts 43 yards to GB 15, Center-46-C.Loeffler, fair catch by 87-J.Nelson.
(9:00) 5-C.Kluwe punts 41 yards to GB 1, Center-46-C.Loeffler, downed by MIN-37-E.Frampton.
(5:08) 5-C.Kluwe punts 50 yards to GB 4, Center-46-C.Loeffler, out of bounds.
(3:20) 5-C.Kluwe punts 33 yards to GB 12, Center-46-C.Loeffler. 87-J.Nelson MUFFS catch, touched at GB 16, recovered by GB-30-J.Kuhn at GB 18. 30-J.Kuhn to GB 18 for no gain (Team).
The Packers defense forced the Vikings to punt the ball away 4 times in the 4th quarter. This should have been the time for the Vikings to run out the clock and ice the game, but they couldn't do it. I've been critical of the Packers run defense for the last 1+ seasons, but they shut down the best running back in the NFL when they had to and gave themselves a chance to get back into the game.
(7:25) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers sacked at GB 1 for 0 yards (69-J.Allen). FUMBLES (69-J.Allen), RECOVERED by MIN-69-J.Allen at GB 1. 69-J.Allen to GB 2 for -1 yards. Green Bay challenged the fumble ruling, and the play was REVERSED. (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers sacked in End Zone for -1 yards, SAFETY (69-J.Allen).
This was a great defensive stand by the Vikings. On the play before, Winfield made a great open field tackle on Grant at the goal line. This was after Colledge was hurt, so Allen was able to work over rookie T.J. Lang. Rodgers doesn't hold the ball too long, he's doing the right thing by avoiding the rush and giving himself a second chance to make a play on the run before throwing it away. But given the current state of his pass protection, he's holding the ball too long.
(3:49) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass short middle to 87-J.Nelson for 33 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
WR Jordy Nelson muffed a punt return shortly after this TD play, but this was a great run-and-catch. Whenever I see a play like this I wonder why he isn't more involved in the offense.
(1:54) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers sacked at MIN 23 for -5 yards (69-J.Allen).
Watching the ESPN highlights, the commentators were starting to downplay the sacks. It was like; yes, it's another sack by Allen, but it's only just the Packers...
(Onside Kick formation) 2-M.Crosby kicks onside 9 yards from GB 30 to GB 39. 18-S.Rice (didn't try to advance) to GB 39 for no gain (16-B.Swain).
Despite the troubles in the secondary, the pass rush, and the awful left tackle pass protection, they were one onside recovery away from giving Rodgers a chance to throw his own last second TD pass in the Metrodome. A great effort by the team to give themselves a chance in the 4th quarter.