The Vikings returned home this weekend for Border Battle 106, hosting the Green Bay Packers for the final time at Mall of America Field. The last act of this rivalry in that building wasn’t pretty, as the Packers dominated all night and eventually pulled away with a 44-31 victory to improve to 5-2 and send the Vikings to 1-6.
So what went wrong? Here are a few ideas…
Defense couldn’t get off the field on 3rd down
Green Bay was 13 of 17 (76.5%) on 3rd downs, and aside from the final score this is the stat that jumps off the page the most. The Vikings inability to force a Green Bay punt caused the defense to be on the field for far too long, far too often, and when fatigue sets in for a defense that’s when you see missed assignment, missed tackles and bad angles. In addition, Green Bay converted twice on 4th downs in the early stages of the game, so even when the Vikings did get a stop on 3rd down they still couldn’t get off the field.
The Vikings inability to get off the field on 3rd downs is further illustrated by the following statistics. Green Bay’s time of possession advantage was 40:54 to 19:06, the total plays run was 73 to 43 in favor of Green Bay and total yards was 464 to 243 in favor of Green Bay.
No one could stop Jordy Nelson
A huge factor in the Vikings inability to get off the field on 3rd down was their inability to stop Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who finished the game with seven receptions for 123 yards and two touchdowns, including a 76-yarder on, yes 3rd down, in the 2nd quarter that staked Green Bay to a 17-10 lead. Every time Green Bay needed a big play offensively, particularly in the first half, it seemed Nelson was there to bail them out. For the game, Nelson had five of his seven receptions, 114 of his receiving yards and both of his touchdowns on either 3rd or 4th down.
Green Bay responded to a punch, the Vikings could not
The Vikings came out of the gates swinging, with rookie
The Vikings, conversely, didn’t respond in similar fashion when Green Bay made a big play. Following Nelson’s 76-yard score in the 2nd quarter, the Vikings had to punt after four plays. That punt was returned by Micah Hyde for a touchdown. Later in the game, James Starks scored on a 25-yard run to give Green Bay a 38-17 lead. The Vikings offense couldn’t respond and instead went three-and-out once again. Short drives were once again an issue for the Vikings offense, with six of their eight offensive possessions lasting for 2:08 or under.
Not enough pressure on Aaron Rodgers
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers doesn’t make many mistakes. He’s an accurate passer who rarely throws interceptions. To force Rodgers into mistakes, a defense must first pressure him because this leads to sack-fumbles and occasionally an errant throw while he’s on the run to avoid the rush.
The Vikings didn’t pressure Rodgers enough on Sunday night, and therefore Rodgers played a nearly flawless game. The pressure the Vikings did get on Rodgers came from the edge – credit
More injuries on defense
A Vikings defense that is working to improve and establish some consistency took another two steps backwards after a step forward last week in New York. Not helping matters is the fact that injuries continue to work against the group. Already missing linebacker