Last season the Packers were on the wrong end of a couple of major blow out losses at home to New England and the New York Jets, but this season it's the Packers administering the shut out stomping of an opponent. I expected the Packers to win, but not like that. I expected QB Brooks Bollinger would have some success passing to his backs and tight ends, and with his mobility and the presence of RB Adrian Peterson they would have enough offense to stay in the game. Instead the Packers offense controlled the game, kept Peterson off the field, dominated the game, and shut out Minnesota for the first time ever. Plus another record setting day as QB Brett Favre passes for over 60,000 yards in his career, only QB Dan Marino has accomplished that feat too.
First Half: The Packers started off with 8 men in the box, S Atari Bigby, who is better closer to the line of scrimmage anyway, came up to play like an extra linebacker. On 3rd down, Peterson tried to cut back and found both Bigby and LB Brady Poppinga there to stop him. Last week, San Diego put 8 men in the box to stop Peterson too, but they couldn't do it. When the Packers played Chicago, they really surprised them by coming out running the ball, and they did it again in this game. The Packers did the right thing and ran outside and away from Minnesota's great DTs Kevin and Pat Williams. The big difference in this game versus the previous three games against Minnesota was that the interior lineman (LG Daryn Colledge, C Scott Wells, and RG Jason Spitz) held up a lot better against the defensive tackles. Neither Williams got into the backfield often to blow up the play. RB Ryan Grant deserved credit for his hard running, but he had 49 of his 119 yards (33%) rushing on the first drive, including that big 30 yard TD run. The reason it happened was FB Korey Hall blocked LB E.J. Henderson, and WR Koren Robinson had a big block downfield on the safety or cornerback, to clear the way for Grant. Henderson wasn't blocked like that the rest of the game which is why Grant only had 70 yards on 22 carries after this initial drive. Still I've been saying for weeks that the Packers can run the ball, but they pass the ball better so Mike McCarthy calls more passing plays and it makes their game-to-game rushing stats look bad. Bollinger was hurt by the poor caliber of receivers on Minnesota; he only completed three passes in the first half, all to backs on checkdowns. The Packers made it look easy moving up and down the field in the first half. The biggest difference for Favre this season is his comfort level with all the wide receivers (Driver, Jennings, Jones, Martin, and now Robinson) plus TE Donald Lee has improved so much since his 10 catch 2006 season. They all seem to be on the same page with Favre. Minnesota was hurt by the loss of number one CB Antonie Winfield and that rookie CB Marcus McCauley is constantly getting burned. Minnesota's poor pass rush couldn't get anywhere near Favre today either. The Packers had four drives in the first half, all starting deep in Packer territory, and scored on three of them.
Second Half: What a killer TD drive to open the 2nd half. It had to have sucked so much energy out of Minnesota to come out down 13-0 after halftime, and allow a TD drive to start the half. After another three-and-out for Minnesota, another Favre TD pass. He took three shots on that drive, which made the score 27-0, and might have suffered a concussion on the shot he took to his head. I was hoping McCarthy would take Favre out after that drive, but he let him stay in for one more and luckily he didn't get hurt. WR Ruvell Martin had a big day with 2 TD receptions, a week after he was inactive for the Kansas City game. I'm a big fan of his and he's the best number four WR Favre has played with in many years. Favre played with a better group of starting WRs in the past, WRs Antonio Freeman and Robert Brooks were probably better back in 1997 and 1998, and WRs Donald Driver and Javon Walker were outstanding back in 2004, but Favre's top four WRs are all capable of making a big play this season. I don't think Favre has ever played with four WRs that are capable of starting. What a complete disaster for Minnesota. Getting their sixth loss practically kills any playoff dreams, they are shut out and embarrassed, and lose their star Peterson. Losing him for the rest of the season would really be awful for the entire NFL, and put 10% of fantasy team owners on suicide watch. Bollinger is finally starting to get something going, completing passes to a few different receivers, but the tipped pass that was picked off by CB Charles Woodson, who continues to be a turnover making machine in his Packer career, ended Minnesota's only real chance at a score. The play where FS Darren Sharper and CB Cedric Griffin collide into each other in the end zone which resulted in a tipped pass that went right to Martin for the TD pretty much summed up the game for Minnesota.