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Recap: The Packers Defense Forces Favre To "Re-Evaluate"

Game balls all around as the Green Bay Packers defense almost shut out a Vikings offense that had scored over 24 points in 3 of their 4 home games this season. There were some standout individual efforts, but the entire defense (with one exception) played great. The Vikings offense isn't what it was a season ago, but holding any NFL offense to only 3 points, at home, in favorable dome conditions, is an impressive feat. 

The only injuries reported were three in the secondary: backups S Anthony Smith, S Atari Bigby, and CB Pat Lee. It's hard to tell whether they'll miss any games, but at least the Packers have some depth.

Four Quarters

After a three-and-out, the Vikings got a 25 yard run from RB Adrian Peterson and 29 yard completion to WR Greg Lewis to move into the red zone. If there was any complaint on defense it was that CB Sam Shields did not have a great game. He got turned around and beaten on a couple pass plays. But once in the red zone, the Packers defense forced a field goal. That 10 play, 77 yard drive was notable because it was their only scoring drive and accounted for nearly a quarter of their total offense. Those 89 yards of offense in the quarter were the highlights for the Vikings despite the fact that the Packers were consistently getting to and knocking QB Brett Favre down.

In the second quarter, their offense did manage a couple of respectable drives that moved into Packer territory, but both ended with a costly turnover. First was a short pass to RB Toby Gerhart that was stripped by CB Charles Woodson and recovered by LB A.J. Hawk. A couple of drives (and two punts) later, their offense once again got down to the Packer 25 yard line, but CB Tramon Williams jumped an inside route and his interception return set up the Packers second touchdown of the quarter. Despite 78 yards of offense in the quarter, those two turnovers outweighed any benefit. 

After the Vikings fell behind 24-3, it effectively took Peterson out of the game. He only had 3 carries in the second half. Favre did manage to get WR Sidney Rice involved in his first game of the season, but it took 10 pass attempts to get Rice three receptions. Favre's protection was improving, but they only had the ball for just over 5 minutes in the quarter and were forced punt twice as the defense let them get no closer than the Packer 33 yard line.

Down 31-3, the Vikings went for it twice on 4th down and failed to convert both times. Favre only converted 5 of 12 pass attempts, but he struggled to even get his hands on the ball. The Vikings had it for less than 4:30 in the final quarter as the Packers went 4 for 6 on 3rd down and ran out the play clock. WR Percy Harvin had his long reception of the game (9 yards) during this quarter, and limiting him to only 30 total yards of offense was a huge key to the game. 

Individual Analysis

LB Clay Matthews. As usual, he was a terror in the backfield. He was credited with a sack, two tackles for losses, and two QB hits. He also drew at least one holding penalty. 

LB Erik Walden. Who? The recently signed free agent doesn't play a lot, but he's the player on defense you're least likely to know about. He's getting a chance as a situational pass rusher on the strong side, and he drew one false start penalty. 

CB Tramon Williams. Has he been beaten at all this season? Football Outsiders said no (coming into this game) and this was arguably his best game of the season.

CB Sam Shields. As mentioned above, if there was a weak link in this game, it was Shields. One bad game isn't trouble, but the rookie has some more film to study.

Everyone else. Did anyone else have a bad game? If you want to nit-pick, LB A.J. Hawk over pursued on Peterson's 1st quarter run, but he was good in coverage and frequently caused trouble in the back field. Also, LB Frank Zombo missed an open-field tackle during the Vikings lone scoring drive that would have kept them well short of the red zone. Overall, if you're wondering about someone else on defense, they probably had a good or great game.