The Green Bay Packers may have tied the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at Lambeau Field, but they should have won the contest, clearly playing well enough to do so against a team that made it to the NFC Championship a year ago. The Packers took a double-digit lead into the fourth quarter despite a quarterback who was operating on one healthy leg and although some questionable officiating helped to cost them a win, there are plenty of individual players who deserve praise for their efforts on Sunday.
Let’s take a look at a few players not named Aaron Rodgers who are worthy of recognition for how they played on Sunday.
TE Jimmy Graham
After a quiet week one, Graham bounced back in week two. He caught six passes from Aaron Rodgers, turning them into 95 yards. Perhaps his biggest play came near the end of regulation, when he got the Packers into range for a potential game-winning field goal that Mason Crosby initially appeared to make before the Vikings took a timeout.
Reports of Graham’s demise were premature, however. He made a few big plays, both getting wide open on occasion and making tough catches in traffic, and showed why the Packers brought him in.
WR Geronimo Allison
Allison made the play of the first half, when he knifed through the Vikings’ line on a punt and made a full extension, blocking the punt and sending the ball straight up in the air. Josh Jackson may have hauled in the football for a touchdown, but Allison was responsible for that play.
On offense, Allison made a handful of big catches once again, with six grabs for 64 yards. It was a complete performance for the third-year wideout, who continues to justify the Packers’ faith in him as their third wide receiver.
DT Kenny Clark
Clark was a beast for much of the game, finishing with four total tackles and a sack. While Mike Daniels also had a solid performance, Clark was constantly collapsing the pocket, eating up blockers in the run game, and even knocking down a pass at the line of scrimmage.
CB Jaire Alexander
Even though the Packers allowed Kirk Cousins to pass for over 400 yards, Alexander largely had a very good day his first time out against Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. He totaled six solo tackles and one assist, coming up short to only Blake Martinez in solo and total tackles for the team. Alexander also made a pair of big plays on the Vikings’ opening drive, forcing the punt that Allison blocked; one was blowing up a screen pass to Diggs on first and 20 and the other was a joint sack with Reggie Gilbert on third down.
Yes, Alexander was in coverage on Thielen on the touchdown that led to the Vikings tying the game, but he was in great position and only a perfect throw from Cousins fit the ball in. Furthermore, he should have sealed a victory with an interception on Cousins’ deep ball before that touchdown, tracking it over his shoulder in the air and making an impressive pick only to see it wiped out by a terrible roughing the passer call against Clay Matthews.
The rookie had several good plays to build on once again and is showing why he was a first-round draft pick.
P JK Scott
Here were Scott’s punts on the day:
- 44 yards, fair catch at the Vikings’ 8
- 63 yards, fair catch at the Vikings’ 19
- 59 yards, returned for 13 yards (net of 46)
- 46 yards, downed by Packers at Vikings’ 29
- 47 yards, touchback (net of 27)
That’s an average of 51.8 yards per punt gross and 45.2 net, with two punts inside the 20. That’s a heck of a day for anyone, let alone a rookie in his second NFL game.
Honorable Mention: K Mason Crosby
Crosby only gets left off the main list because of his missed 52-yard field goal at the end of regulation. He went 5-for-6 on field goals, hitting multiple kicks from 40-plus and hitting his first attempt at that 52-yarder, which was erased by a Vikings timeout. Indeed, Crosby’s successful conversions were a big reason why the Packers held the lead late into the game.
And think about it — if the Packers had gotten him one more attempt to win the game in overtime, do you think he would have missed it? I would have been betting on Crosby all the way.