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Cheese Curds, 11/22: Packers’ defense folds in Minnesota, but Jenkins’ injury may be biggest loss

The race for the 1 seed just got a lot tougher thanks to an off day for Green Bay’s pass defense, but a major injury on offense could be a bigger long-term blow than this one game in the loss column.

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Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers’ chances at earning the top seed in the NFC took a significant blow on Sunday afternoon thanks to their 34-31 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Green Bay fought back from deficits of 16-3 and 23-10 in this game, briefly taking a 24-23 lead in the fourth quarter. However, their game-tying touchdown from Aaron Rodgers to Marquez Valdes-Scantling left too much time on the clock for a Vikings offense that moved the ball at will against Green Bay’s previously-excellent defense.

That defense was a massive disappointment on a day when there were plenty of opportunities there for the taking. Even though the Packers did give up over 400 yards, they failed to force a turnover thanks to some dropped interceptions. The most devastating of those came just after the MVS score, when Darnell Savage appeared to pick off a Cousins heave but failed to maintain full possession through the ground.

The lack of turnovers was a problem, but so too was the defense allowing the Vikings to go 9-for-13 on third downs. Much of those issues came about because of breakdowns in the secondary, which allowed 341 passing yards to the Vikings offense.

And yet, the game itself might not be the biggest loss for the Packers on Sunday. The NFC’s top seed is still a possibility, even if the odds of Green Bay getting home-field advantage just took a significant hit. Instead, the team’s ultra-versatile, Pro Bowl-caliber offensive lineman will likely be done for the year and could miss some time into early next season depending on his rehab.

Here are the big takeaways from Sunday.

Observations from Green Bay's loss to Vikings – The Athletic
The Packers' pass defense collapsed against Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson, as the budding superstar wide receiver racked up 169 yards and two touchdowns against a unit that had kept excellent receiver units in check each of the past three weeks.

Green Bay Packers’ Defensive Gives Too Much Help to Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings -
Indeed, the Packers dropped the ball in the secondary (quite literally), being unable to hold on to multiple potential interceptions while also allowing receivers to get wide open. The coverage busts helped negate a decent day from the Packers' pass rush, which was pressuring Cousins much of the day but just couldn't get home because receivers got open quickly.

Aaron Rodgers 'in a lot of pain' with toe | ESPN
Rodgers' mystery toe injury evidently made him very uncomfortable during Sunday's game, but he had a nearly-perfect passer rating anyway, buoyed by the 75-yard bomb to Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

Slow starts on offense need to change for Packers |
Unfortunately, Rodgers did most of that work in the second half, when the team scored touchdowns on three straight drives, and not early in the game as the Vikings were able to get out to a two-score lead in the second quarter.

Packers fear torn ACL for Pro Bowl OL Elgton Jenkins | Packers Wire
Perhaps a bigger loss than the one in the standings column is to Jenkins, who has been playing left tackle at a Pro Bowl level. It certainly looked like a torn ACL live, as his knee buckled with little or no contact. This injury makes the potential return of David Bakhtiari all the more critical.

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Who among us hasn't wanted a pizza so badly they'd be willing to chase someone down with an axe to get it?