Legendary senior writer, Packers lead blogger & NFC North columnist jclombardi presents Packers "great, good, bad & ugly" awards.
Photo credit: AP.
SUMMARY: In a predictable "choke" road game performance against a division rival desperate to win for a playoff position, the Packers lost as their defense failed to stop the Vikings on big third down plays, made Vikings QB Ponder look like an elite QB, failed to execute clutch situations, and made costly miscues contributing to the final losing margin score.
1. QB Rodgers--28 of 40 for 365 yards, 4 TDs, 131.8 QB rating.
2. WR Jennings--8 receptions for 120 yards, 2 TDs.
1. WR Jones--6 catches, 62 yards & 1 touchdown.
2. TE Finley--8 catches for 72 yards.
3. RB Harris--14 carries for 70 yards.
1. LBs collapse led ILBs Hawk & Jones--especially in run defense.
2. QB Rodgers--fumble [big turnaround turnover].
3. Packers defense--allowed Vikings to get 444 total yards; Vikings RB Peterson to rush for 199 yards, 1 TD Run & 1 TD Pass; and allowed Vikings QB Ponder to throw for 234 yards & 3 TDs.
4. Poor pass rush--only 1 sack.
1. Shoddy time management:
- In the 1st half, the Packers used two timeouts inside Minnesota's 10-yard line leaving them without a timeout to later challenge the tipped completed Vikings pass, when the replays clearly showed the tip of the ball hit the ground and was an incompletion; the Packers had failed to intercept it leading to a Vikings touchdown drive.
- McCarthy almost repeated famed Jim Schwartz Thanksgiving Day mistake when he threw a challenge flag at wrong time with WR Nelson trying to bail him out by covering it.
2. Secondary collapse led by CB Shields & CB Williams-
- Poor tackling--teams are now running at him with his reputation. FOX NFL Sports announcer Troy Aikman commented that Williams avoided tackling Vikings RB Peterson and he broke off for a big run.
- Big Miscue--In the 4th quarter, the Vikings had third and goal from the 12. Vikings Gerhart gained just 5 yards on a screen pass, but CB Williams drew a penalty flag for illegal hands to the face. What happen next summarized the Packers defense's day:
That left the Vikings at the 7. Peterson was stacked up for gains of just 2 yards on the next two plays. On third down, Ponder bought time with his feet and scrambled left. Jenkins worked into the middle of the end zone against Shields. Then Jenkins broke his route back outside where he was picked up by free safety Jennings with Jennings appeared to be the free man in coverage. Ponder threw hard to Jenkins who made diving catch in front of diving Jennings for touchdown. "It kind of went through my hands a little bit," Jennings admitted. "I touched it, but he made a great catch and he threw a great ball."
3. Sloppy costly offensive penalties--three false-start penalties and a delay-of-game penalty; two flags contributed to stalled drives that ended without points.
4. Head Coach MCarthy & DC Capers: As JC said:
Whether they weren't ready, were poorly motivated, or the Vikings simply played better and harder, the Packers appeared outcoached. A first-round bye...should have been ample incentive to match Minnesota's fire. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers didn't have his men ready....There simply has to be a better gameplan to slow him down than what the Packers have done in two games allowing him 408 yards. Their four leading tacklers were defensive backs, a clear indication of how often he got into the secondary.
COMMENTARY: After reviewing the playoff picture, we found a positive in this predictable loss. Since we can win the encore home game against the Vikings next Saturday, the Packers will then go on the road to play the 49ers in a big 2012 season rematch to advance to the NFC championship game.