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Packers Game Balls: Blake Martinez and Kenny Clark continue strong play against Vikings

A pair of second-year Packers led the team’s defense despite the loss in Minnesota.

Wild Card Round - New York Giants v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

While the storyline out of Green Bay this Monday revolves around what the Packers’ offense will do without quarterback Aaron Rodgers, it is worth noting that the Packers’ defense saw a few excellent performances.

Overall, the Packers held the Minnesota Vikings to just 3.4 yards per carry, a number that drops to 3.0 if you exclude a 16-yard scramble by Vikings quarterback Case Keenum. Although they did allow one 20-yard carry to Jerick McKinnon, the front seven was largely stout in the run game and was able to pressure Keenum, even if they failed to record a sack.

With the offense understandably struggling without Rodgers and against a strong Vikings defense, we’ll focus on the Packers’ defense here as there were no players deserving of game balls on offense. Here are a few players worth being recognized for their performances on Sunday.

ILB Blake Martinez

Once again, Martinez had a great game. We profiled his development over the weekend, and he followed that up with an excellent performance: 11 total tackles, two for losses, and a pass breakup.

Martinez had one over-run of a play that contributed to a big gain by McKinnon on a cutback; however, the defense appeared to be lined up poorly, with no players on the backside and able to close off that lane.

This was the third game out of six this season in which Martinez has recorded double-digit tackles. He continues to be a strong presence in the running game, and he is clearly being rewarded for his efforts, as he was off the field for just a single defensive snap on Sunday.

DT Kenny Clark

One-half of the Packers’ preferred interior line pairing, Clark was a monster again on Sunday. He played 55 of a possible 77 snaps on defense and finished third on the team with six tackles. One of those went for a loss, and he forced the fumble that bounced into Clay Matthews’ arms and set up the Packers’ only touchdown of the day.

He also made a mark rushing the passer, as Pro Football Focus credited him with two hurries and a hit on Keenum.

DT Mike Daniels

Joining Clark was his linemate, as Daniels also had a solid day. He didn’t fill up the stat sheet to the same extent that Clark did, but he had the same pass-rushing line from PFF and he was consistently holding the point of attack and occupying multiple blockers. It’s great to see number 76 back out on the field and playing well again after his three-game absence with a hip injury, and the Packers will need him to be playing at a high level if they have any hope of salvaging this season.