Another high stakes, prime time Vikings game goes by, leading to another week I’ll be unable to watch any football related show on television.
By Jordan Wright
On Sunday, Nov. 22 the Vikings lost to the Green Bay Packers by a score of 30-13. The good news is that Minnesota still has a record of 7-3, good enough to be tied (although the Packers own the tie-breaker now) for the lead in the NFC North. If anyone had told me before the season started that the Vikings would be 7-3 after 10 games, I would have jumped up and down with joy. Unfortunately, this loss stings and there was a lot to be disappointed about.
As a team, the Vikings were just unable to get anything going. The players and coaches knew this was a huge game, and because the Packers had just lost three in a row, the Vikings knew they were going to get the Packers’ best shot. This game was always going to come down to the play in the trenches. Could the Vikings give quarterback Teddy Bridgewater protection, and also open up holes for running back Adrian Peterson to run through? Could the defensive line get to Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers and pressure him into mistakes while also limiting their run game?
The answer to both those questions is a resounding NO!
The Vikings’ offensive line gave up six sacks, eight tackles for a loss and 10 quarterback hits. I would’ve expected this horrendous play if the Vikings had been on the road, where they give up, on average, four sacks and nearly eight quarterback hits and tackles for a loss. But this was at home, where the Vikings’ offensive line plays much better, only allowing on average two sacks, five quarterback hits and six tackles for a loss. Because the offense and the offensive line in particular were unable to sustain drives, Peterson and the ground game were not effective. Peterson rushed only 13 times for 45 yards, a touchdown, while committing a costly fumble. The stats will look better than they were, thanks in large part to Bridgewater, who ran the ball four times for 43 yards.
Defensively, the Vikings just couldn’t do anything to stop Rodgers and company. Eddy Lacy, a running back who was just benched because he became too over weight and wasn’t playing at a professional level, was able to gash the Vikings for 100 yards on 22 carries. The biggest surprise to me was the linebackers. It was hard to tell from the stands, since I couldn’t pause or rewind, but I didn’t see too many double A-gap blitzes that Viking Head Coach Mike Zimmer is famous for. None of the linebackers got so much as a quarterback hit, and the only good play I saw from any of them was a tackle for a loss by Kendricks.
The player of the game for me was Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater threw the ball 37 times, completing 25 of them (68 percent) for 296 yards and a touchdown, while also not turning the ball over. On a day where he was constantly under pressure, Bridgewater was able to show his signature poise and composure, keeping the Vikings competitive until the defense completely gave up.
The player who needs the most improvement could’ve gone a lot of ways, but I am going to call out two particular groups. The first group is the coaching staff. For the most part, I like what Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner is doing with the offense. That man has forgotten more about football than all of us combined will ever learn. But my particular gripe is against Zimmer. I think it was foolish to make this past game bigger than it needed to be. All of the “Beat Green Bay” t-shirts and all the hyperbole leading up to the game was out of character for him, and we all paid the price for his arrogance.
The second group I am calling out is the fans. That’s right, us. The section I sat in was probably 30 percent Packers fans, which is way too many, and they were 10 times louder than the Vikings fans. After watching the game again at home, I am ashamed that there were more “Go Pack Go” chants than there were chants for “De-fense”, “Teddy, Teddy”, or “AP”. A week ago, Packer fans were booing their team at home. One week later, they are louder and more supportive of their team in OUR house than we were for our own team. We need to do better. And for any Packers fans who might be reading this, when you go to an away game, don’t be disrespectful. I heard too many negative comments and personal insults coming from Packer fans directed towards Vikings fans. It was completely classless.
Looking ahead, the Vikings travel to Atlanta (6-4, second in the NFC South) to play the Falcons on November 29. The Falcons are led by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, a terrific duo that powers Atlanta’s high powered offense. The key to this game will be Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes has taken a step back this season, but he will need to bring his hard hat and his lunch pail to this contest. If he can shadow Jones and limit him somewhat, the Vikings should be able to put pressure on Matt Ryan and disrupt the rest of Atlanta’s offense.
As always, if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to reach out to me at facebook.com/ skoljwright, or on Twitter @skoljwright.