The Green Bay Packers’ 41-17 victory over the Minnesota Vikings wasn’t even nearly as close as that score indicates. Both of Minnesota’s touchdowns came in the fourth quarter with Green Bay having scored 41 consecutive points, and both came against the Packers’ second-string defensive unit.
The week 17 game was the first time all year that the Packers have been able to mass substitute at the end of a blowout victory, and in fact it was the first time since the teams met at Lambeau in week 17 of the 2021 season, when Green Bay also won running away, 37-10.
One of the big reasons for the Packers’ victory on Sunday afternoon was its defensive line, a group that had just four players active after Dean Lowry was sent to injured reserve this week and Jonathan Ford remained a healthy scratch. Each member of the foursome — Kenny Clark, Jarran Reed, Devonte Wyatt, and T.J. Slaton — made their impacts felt early and often, and the group had by far its best day of the season as they manhandled a short-handed Vikings offensive line.
Meanwhile, Green Bay’s offense got a big performance on the ground, eclipsing 160 rushing yards for the sixth time this year and marking the fourth time that the Vikings have given up that mark in a game in 2022.
Here’s a look at how the Packers divided up their playing time, as backups on both side of the football got a handful of snaps late in the victory.
OFFENSE (63 total)
Aaron Rodgers 56, Jordan Love 7
With the Packers up 41-10, the coaching staff finally brought backups in on offense, letting Rodgers have the last handful of plays off. That came after a rather unspectacular day from the four-time MVP, as he threw for just 159 yards on 15-of-24 passing, but he did have a touchdown through the air and another on the ground and ten of his completions went for first downs.
Was the passing game explosive? No, but it didn’t need to be after the team was spotted a 14-3 lead and with the running game clicking.
AJ Dillon 29, Aaron Jones 25, Patrick Taylor 12
That running game totaled 160 yards on 31 carries between the trio of running backs, with Jones leading the way. He picked up 111 yards on just 14 carries, bringing his overall average for the year up to 5.3 yards per carry, which ranks second among all running backs in 2022. He also crossed the 1,000 yard threshold for the third time in the last four years.
Meanwhile, Dillon gained 41 yards on 12 carries, scoring a touchdown in the second half
Allen Lazard 45, Christian Watson 38, Romeo Doubs 31, Randall Cobb 29, Samori Toure 11
It was a quiet day for the Packers’ passing game in general, but Lazard had a typically-efficient day, catching five of six targets for 59 yards. Four of his receptions went for first downs, with two of them converting on third down, including a 14-yarder on 3rd-and-10 that was the Packers’ first first down of the game.
Watson was the targeted man on multiple deep shots, but the referees let a lot of contact go in both secondaries and Rodgers could not connect on either. He finished the day with just one reception for 11 yards on five targets, but seeing him play a mostly-full workload after missing two days of practice was an encouraging sign.
Robert Tonyan 39, Josiah Deguara 23, Marcedes Lewis 23, Tyler Davis 10
For the first time since week 4, Tonyan scored a touchdown, finding an open spot in the Vikings’ zone and running to the back corner of the end zone as Rodgers extended a play. He had two of the Packers’ three plays of 20-plus yards, that 21-yard score plus a 24-yard gain in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, the Packers used Deguara consistently out of the backfield, lining him up at his usual fullback and wing-back alignments to get him in space as a lead blocker. He caught his only target for four yards, but it is his work in the run game that continues to stand out on film.
Josh Myers 63, Jon Runyan, Jr. 63, David Bakhtiari 56, Elgton Jenkins 56, Zach Tom 55, Yosh Nijman 8, Royce Newman 7, Luke Tenuta 7
Green Bay had its preferred starting five on the field to start the game, but early on they elected to substitute Tom in for Nijman at right tackle. Nijman was still evidently healthy enough to be on the field on occasion, as he was on the field for some field goal and PAT snaps, but the team rolled with Tom the rest of the way. They then brought on backups in place of Bakhtiari and Jenkins for the final two series when
DEFENSE (58 total)
Kenny Clark 36, Devonte Wyatt 34, Jarran Reed 33, T.J. Slaton 24
Another game without Dean Lowry meant that Wyatt set a new career-high in snaps as the Packers worked him in heavily in the rotation. However, the team started the game with an exciting three-man line of Reed, Slaton, and Clark, moving Clark off the nose. He was disruptive throughout the game, picking up a sack-strip/recovery on Kirk Cousins and adding another QB hit while making four total tackles.
Reed also had a pair of QB hits, while Wyatt was quiet on the stat sheet (one tackle). But the lack of numbers belies another good performance from the rookie, who continues to come on late this season.
Perhaps the best performance from the group belonged to Slaton, however, who was a monster in the middle against third-string center Chris Reed. Slaton had four total tackles, including a massive TFL on the early goal-line stand, and he broke up two passes at the line of scrimmage, one that got tipped for an interception by Adrian Amos.
Kingsley Enagbare 34, Preston Smith 34, Justin Hollins 26, Jonathan Garvin 18
The Packers’ inside linebackers seemed relatively quiet in this game as the defensive line got the bulk of the praise, but the top three were still productive rushing Cousins. Hollins recorded two hits, including one of the Packers’ two sacks, while Enagbare had two hits of his own on Cousins and Smith had one. Garvin played primarily in garbage time, getting just a few snaps before the Packers mass-substituted their second-team defense.
De’Vondre Campbell 46, Quay Walker 41, Isaiah McDuffie 12, Eric Wilson 12
Speaking of mass substitutions, the last two Vikings drives (and their only two touchdowns in the game) came against the Packers’ backups, with McDuffie and Wilson taking over for the starters. McDuffie ended the game with four tackles on his 12 snaps plus a fifth on special teams.
Earlier on, Campbell and Walker each tallied eight total tackles, with Walker adding a pass breakup. Both players looked rejuvenated a bit, perhaps due in part to the Packers playing more man coverage.
Rudy Ford 50, Adrian Amos 46, Darnell Savage 45, Innis Gaines 18, Tariq Carpenter 13
With Keisean Nixon limited, the Packers rolled with Gaines as their primary nickel back early in the game, then moved Savage from the starting safety spot to the slot for a healthy portion of the game as well. All three of the Packers’ interceptions of Kirk Cousins came from the safety group, with Savage, Amos, and Ford each getting one and Savage taking his back for a 75-yard touchdown. Amos had a second pass breakup plus a TFL while tying for the team lead in tackles with 8.
Rasul Douglas 58, Jaire Alexander 46, Corey Ballentine 12
Alexander’s coverage helped limit Justin Jefferson to his worst receiving day as a pro, with just one catch for 15 yards. He had no tackles in the game as a result, but did break up one pass early, leading to his celebration by dancing the griddy in front of Jefferson as a result. Meanwhile, Douglas had two PBUs as well, one a deflection that resulted in Savage’s pick-six.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS
Davis 23, Dallin Leavitt 19, Carpenter 16, McDuffie 16, Gaines 15, Wilson 15, Mason Crosby 14, Douglas 14, Slaton 12
Nixon’s huge day came on his only kickoff return attempt of the game, as he let his only other opportunity go for a touchback. He also had a punt return for 10 yards, with those three snaps being the only ones he played in the game as he came back from missing a full week of practice with a groin injury.
The Packers had planned to use Ramiz Ahmed as their kickoff specialist in this game, but Crosby had to perform those duties after Ahmed suffered a groin injury in warmups. Crosby also was the pick to try a 55-yard field goal at the end of the first half, which hit the crossbar and bounced over for a successful attempt.
The one negative on special teams was the early blocked punt by Minnesota’s Josh Metellus, which resulted from long snapper Jack Coco missing a block and leaving Leavitt to try to block two players at once.