It is an old sport adage: “That’s why you play the game.” When the Packers play the Vikings you can throw out all the pundit predictions. Give credit where it is due; Mike Zimmer can still assess his talent and put his defense in the best scheme to stop his opponent. On Sunday, he threw away his defensive play book from the first Packer-Viking game and played to his defensive strengths, his safeties and linebackers. He game planned to take the Packers best playmaker, Davante Adams, out of the game and make the Packers defense stop the run.
He got some help from the Packers via penalties. The Packers committed 8 penalties which cost them yards, stalled drives, and kept the Vikings offense on the field, resulting in at least one touchdown.
The Packers lost the penalty battle, the turnover battle, and let the Vikings gash their defense for 174 rushing yards for a 5.1 yard average. The Vikings’ first four possessions produced 28 points. That is an all out fail for Mike Pettine’s defense.
For Aaron Rogers it was a tale of two halves. In the first half, Rogers completed all but one of his passes and threw for two TD’s. His final line, 27 of 41 for 291 yards. Fourteen second half incompletions. Their first drive of the second half started with a completion, then offensive penalty, followed by four incompletions. Their second drive of the half included back to back holding penalties, two incompletions and a 2 yard scramble to avoid a sack.
While the Packer air attack stumbled in the swirling gusts of Lambeau Field, the Vikings RB Dalvin Cook had an historic performance. One hundred and sixty three running yards added to sixty three receiving yards and four touchdowns. Last time a RB put on a performance like that in a single game in the NFL, it was against this same Pettine defense in the NFC Championship game last year. Zimmer was able to analyze his prior loss to the Packers and dial up a winning game plan on Sunday. Packer fans are waiting to see if Pettine can do the same against San Francisco. If not, his coaching days for the Packers may be numbered.