TiVo Time: Minnesota Vikings
It’s like t-shirt time, only better, because no one from Jersey is involved. Shawn Neuser takes a look at the Green Bay Packers 31-3 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
By now, everyone knows about and has perhaps sobered up from the ass whooping the Green Bay Packers put on the Vikings on Sunday. Here is an extensive breakdown of the tape.
Noon, in the Crapdome, kickoff — Atari Bigby already improves the special teams by tripping up Percy Harvin at the 26; otherwise Harvin might still be running. Mike McCarthy finally saw the light and put the Packers’ defense on the field first.
15:00, 1st quarter — B.J. Raji shrugs off right guard Anthony Herrera to completely stuff Adrian Peterson for no gain. On second down, Dom Capers treats the Vikings’ first pass of the game with a Mad Dog blitz. Desmond Bishop fights through and puts Brett Favre on his back. B.J. Raji also threw aside Herrera again, and got into Favre’s face. Herrera limps off the field shortly thereafter; based off these first two plays against Raji, good call. On third and 15, Favre runs out of the pocket and slides down short of the line of scrimmage, perhaps mistaking Clay Matthews for Michael Strahan. People can consider this a lucky sack for Matthews, but when you hustle like this guy does, good things happen. In just three plays, the Packers have already announced to Favre and the Vikings that this isn’t going to be like last year.
13:32, 1st quarter — The Packers receive their first punt of the day and try a little trickery with a reverse to Sam Shields. Good idea, but unfortunately, Tramon Williams had more daylight in front of him than Shields did after the hand off. After a four-yard run by Brandon Jackson on first down, Jackson is cut down for a gain of just one by E.J. Henderson on second. In a replay of the first meeting between these two teams, Henderson blew right by Scott Wells who was supposed to block him. On third and 5, rather than adjust the line to block a blitz by Henderson, Aaron Rodgers goes to the hot read with a quick pass to Andrew Quarless. It’s there, but Quarless takes too long to look for the pass and Rodgers throws it at his feet.
11:15, 1st quarter — First sign of life from either offense as Peterson breaks off a 25-yard run, first up the middle and then breaking to the right sideline. The Packers actually had their first A.J. Hawk/Charles Woodson blitz called here, which effectively swung both players out of the play. Now the only linebacker left in the middle of the field, Desmond Bishop played it safe and held his ground rather than risk shooting the gap to blow up the play. Peterson simply cut into the hole vacated by Hawk. Matthews would have closed the hole, but Phil Loadholt effectively horse-collared him, dragging him to the ground with a hold that should have been called. Charlie Peprah got juked to the outside by Peterson on a tough play for him to make, and Peterson got to the sideline before Nick Collins ran him down. The Packers clearly guessed pass here and got burned; really,
considering the speed of Peterson, this is a bigger gain against most other defenses. Tramon Williams and Collins are that fast.
6:06, 1st quarter — The Vikings kick a field goal after reaching the Green Bay seven. Besides the run by AP, the key play of the drive was a third-and-11 pickup by Toby Gerhardt, where a Packers’ zone blitz left Frank Zombo alone in the middle of the field. Gerhardt ran past him and picked up 15. On the very next play, Sam Shields bit on a pump fake by Favre, and Greg Lewis made a 29-yard reception up the open sideline on Favre’s best pass of the game. It would prove an aberration.
2:21, 1st quarter — The Packers go six and out after a third-and-1 pickup by Dmitri Nance. That play featured a great block by Quinn Johnson on Ben Lieber. Unfortunately, on the next play, Johnson would miss a blitz assignment and force a Ray Edwards’ sack that would doom the drive. Much would be made of the Packers’ eight total yards in the first quarter, but they only had the ball twice and simply failed to execute. The Vikings’ defense was playing hard, but they weren’t the problem.
14:56, 2nd quarter — Near midfield, Cullen Jenkins splits a double team at the line and hits Favre as he throws the football. The ball floats out feebly to the sideline and Hawk nearly picks it off and goes the other way with it. This is another example of the 41-year-old quarterback protecting himself by refusing to take the sack. It very nearly resulted in an embarrassing, or hilarious, pick six by Hawk. Jenkins is rag-dolling fools out there. On the very next play, Vikings center John Sullivan fools Brandon Chillar by running out to the flat on third-and-8. This leaves Gerhardt open again in the middle of the field. Like Superman to the rescue, Woodson flies in from the other side of the field and tomahawk chops the ball out of Gerhardt’s hands. Hawk, seemingly everywhere, considers picking up the fumble before choosing the better part of valor and simply falling on the ball. Sullivan was illegally downfield on this very unusual play, where Chillar being fooled by a center actually turned out in the Packers’ favor.
13:45, 2nd quarter — The Packers go three and out again when Rodgers throws behind James Jones on a third-down slant. Rodgers has not had an accurate start to this game. Fortunately, that will change.
12:20, 2nd quarter — The Vikings punt it back to the Packers at the Green Bay 22. Tramon Williams crushed Greg Lewis on second down, and Sam Shields had Sydney Rice well covered on third. I was comfortable with Shields covering Rice coming into this game, and that has so far been justified.
9:44, 2nd quarter — Mason Crosby kicks a 42-yard field goal to tie the game and finally put Green Bay on the board. The “drive” constituted mostly of one play — a 47-yard reception by Greg Jennings on third and 9. On the play, Rodgers threw an absolute dime a millisecond before getting crushed by Everson Griffen, who spun past Chad Clifton. Jennings miraculously gathered the ball after it partially deflected off his helmet.
5:14, 2nd quarter — Talk about confidence. From midfield, on third and 10, Rodgers throws a laser to James Jones up the sideline for 39 yards. This comes after Jones pulled up on an identical route the play before. Two plays later, Rodgers makes another great play by spinning away from Jared Allen, scrambling out of the pocket, and then finding Jennings in the end zone. It’s now 10-3 Packers, and after a slow start, the Packers’ offense and Rodgers appear to have it in gear.
1:03, 2nd quarter — Perhaps the play of the game, Tramon Williams ends a Vikings’ drive by jumping a slant to Harvin and picking off a hard thrown ball by Favre. The key to the play was recognition of the pattern by Williams and then the catch. This play and time also represent the Vikings’ high water mark in this game, much like Pickett’s Charge does for the Confederacy. After this play, it’s all downhill for the Vikes.
0:05, 2nd quarter — It was this touchdown that actually changed the complexion of the game. The Packers went 50 yards in 58 seconds, including two swing passes to Brandon Jackson, who looked quick and gave the Vikings fits out of the backfield all game, and a 14-yard out to Quarless. It ended, of course, with the beautifully executed fade to Jones, who has now made his fair share of plays against the Vikings. 17-3 Packers
12:01, 3rd quarter — Rodgers converts a third and 8 by scrambling for 15 yards, moving the ball from the Green Bay 29 to the Green Bay 44. The Packers get one more first down after a eight-yard pass to Jordy Nelson and a two-yard run by Jackson. Then, on first and 10 from the Minnesota 46, Mike McCarthy pulls out the play action, but instead of Jennings doing the go route, he does the hitch. Is any receiver in the NFL more dangerous on the hitch route? Jennings predictably spins past Asher Allen and somewhat comically turns the safety into a dog chasing its own tail and rather leisurely strolls in for a 46-yard touchdown. This play would simultaneously send Packer Nation into euphoria and the Vikings’ sideline into a near brawl. Ray Edwards and Chris Cook are shown having a conversation, and I’m not a lip reader, but let me just say the words “bitch” and “fuck” might have been involved. 24-3 Packers.
11:48, 3rd quarter — Favre starts the Vikings’ comeback by passing to Rice. Unfortunately, Rice appears to be wearing Sam Shields like a sweater, and the pass bounces off of Shields’ back. The Packers only rush three on a third and 8, basically conceding a first down and the Vikings convert when Favre steps up in the pocket and finds Rice over the middle against tight
zone coverage. The Vikings fans show their wisdom in booing a first-and-20 handoff to Peterson from the Packers 40. Apparently, they would prefer Favre add to his league-leading interception total, rather than give the ball to their best player. Favre nearly obliges them the very next play when he overthrows Harvin and hits Shields in the chest while he’s laying on the ground. Shields had been busy blanketing Rice and had to be wondering why Favre keeps beaning him with the ball. Eventually, the Vikings would be forced to punt after committing a holding penalty during a made field goal attempt. It should have been fairly obvious by this point that a greater power had determined the Vikings would not score anymore points. Even normally all-world punter Kluwe gets into the act with a poor kick that Williams is able to return to the Green Bay 16.
1:58, 3rd quarter — The Packers finally punt the ball back to the Vikings at the Minnesota nine. The offense may not have sealed the game with a score, but they did the next best thing by changing the field position and hanging onto the football for nearly six minutes. The drive was mostly runs by Nance and dump offs to Jackson. The drive was essentially ended when Scott Wells got driven into the backfield on a Jackson run, resulting in a 5-yard loss. Wells has done well in pass protection, but his run blocking is part of the reason the Packers have had a hard time being consistent on the ground.
14:14, 4th quarter — Both offenses trade punts and the Vikings get the ball back after another Edwards’ sack. The stats may show Brian Bulaga gave up two sacks to Edwards, but the first one happened after Quinn Johnson missed a blitz pick-up that forced Rodgers into Edwards and the second one happened when Josh Sitton accidently tripped Bulaga when he had good position. Bulaga fell backwards and Edwards got an early Thanksgiving.
13:15, 4th quarter — The Vikings practically beg the Packers to put them out of their misery when they decide to go for it on fourth and 2 from their own 42. One play after throwing inaccurately to Peterson in the flat, Favre faces a shot from Hawk and chucks it out of reach of a wide open Gerhardt. Both these plays are just further examples of Brad Childress causing Favre to miss open receivers.
9:42, 4th quarter — Game over. McCarthy makes one of his best play calls of the year by going play action on third and 1 from the Minnesota 23. Donald Lee has an easy TD on the other side of the field, but Rodgers doesn’t care that the safety is shading towards Jennings. He defeats tight coverage by using the force and dropping the pass right over the flailing arms of Asher Allen
into the chest of Jennings. Touchdown Packers. Back at Vikings’ head office, the janitor pens “office, head coach, full cleaning” onto his list. 31-3 Packers.
6:37, 4th quarter — Favre wildly throws the ball too high for Harvin, giving the ball back to the Packers and sending most of the Vikings fans to the exits to rethink their lives. McCarthy gives Rodgers the courtesy of a curtain call by sending him in with the offense before replacing him with Matt Flynn. The crowd is mostly Packers fans at this point and cheers. Any remaining Vikings fans consider their own fate the next 10 years and proceed to punch themselves in the face. Both get treated to the Packers continuing to pick up first downs with Flynn and Nance.
Game Over — 31-3, Packers.
Unlike the Cowboys’ game, there is no evidence on tape of the Vikings ever quitting in this game or failing to give maximum effort. They simply got beat by a better team, mostly because of a canyon-like chasm between the quarterbacks involved. By trouncing the Vikings on the road, the Packers simultaneously ended the Vikings reign over the NFC North, evened the all-time tally against Brett Favre, ended Childress’ tenure as head coach, and announced to the rest of the NFC that despite early season injuries, they are still a top contender for the NFC crown.
Shawn Neuser attended UWGB and lives and works in Green Bay. He enjoys long walks on the beach and being intimate with game film.