GREEN BAY, Wisc. – The Vikings defense slowed Green Bay's output early on but ultimately couldn't stop Aaron Rodgers.
Minnesota was eliminated from postseason contention with a 37-10 loss to its division rival as Green Bay clinched the NFC No. 1 seed and a first-round playoff bye.
On the Packers first four drives of the Sunday Night Football contest, the Vikings allowed just two field goals. Mason Crosby kicked field goals of 35 and 36 yards, respectively, on Green Bay's first and third possessions.
The Packers second drive turned over on downs when a fourth-down pass attempt to Davante Adams was thwarted by Mackensie Alexander. On the fourth, James Lynch dropped A.J. Dillon for a 1-yard loss on third-and-1 to force a punt.
From there, though, things started to take a turn.
As the Vikings offense started stacking three-and-punts (in addition to being just 1-of-4 on fourth-down attempts), the defense began to wear down.
Cornerback Patrick Peterson pointed out the lopsided time of possession: The Vikings controlled the ball for just 21:27, leaving Minnesota's defense on the field to contain Green Bay for 38:33.
"As an offense, we have to be able to sustain drives, and as a defense, we have to be able to get off the field. There were a couple times where we had an opportunity to get off the field and weren't able to," Peterson said. "Those are just some of the things that I talk about with complementary football."
Peterson said he thought the defense did "a great job" of slowing Rodgers and Company down throughout most of the half, with the exception of allowing an 11-yard touchdown to Adams inside the final two minutes.
"Besides that last touchdown before halftime, I thought we played pretty solid," Peterson said. "Second half, we couldn't stop a nosebleed."
View game action photos between the Vikings and Packers during the Week 17 Sunday Night Football matchup at Lambeau Field.
And a nosebleed it was.
All season, the Vikings have hung in games and, even in losses, been competitive often to the final play. But the same wasn't true Sunday, as they simply got pummeled.
Rodgers got going, and the Vikings didn't have an answer.
He ended the night 29-of-38 passing for 288 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions with a passer rating of 114.8. For just the second time this season, Rodgers wasn't sacked.
"In the second half, we didn't play well enough defensively, so give them credit," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. "They're a good team, and they got after us tonight."
Rodgers and Adams once again demonstrated a chemistry that supersedes most QB-WR duos.
Adams led Green Bay with 11 catches for 136 yards (12.4 average) and a touchdown. Allen Lazard followed with six catches for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Throughout the first half, cornerback Kris Boyd – and occasionally Alexander – covered Adams. Zimmer switched things up in the second half and asked Peterson to shadow the receiver. Adams racked up 118 of his receiving yards in the first two quarters. It's also worth mentioning, though, that Green Bay relied more heavily on the run in the second half.
"I kind of knew that, if he was hurting us, that they'd probably call on me to start covering him," Peterson said. "But we had good coverage on him all game. Aaron was making some great throws, Kris was in position a bunch of times, but it was just that Aaron-and-Davante connection that seems to be so hard to stop right now – especially that back-shoulder fade that's just one of the most lethal throws in the game. Aaron and Davante have that down really good.
"Coming out of halftime, coach told me that I would be shadowing Davante, and that's what I did," Peterson added. "Unfortunately, the game was a little bit of out of hand, so they ran the ball to try to milk the clock."
Peterson was asked if it was difficult to stand by and watch his teammates give up big catches to Adams. He acknowledged that while challenging to see the situation out of his hands, the veteran corner reiterated that Boyd put forth a valiant effort.
"Aaron was making some great throws. It wasn't like Kris was out of position at all; he was right there. [Rodgers] was just making some bang-bang throws," Peterson said. "As a corner, that's tough on us, because those 50-50 balls, you kinda wanna come down with them. I like to call them 51-49, because I wanna be on that 51-percent side. But Aaron was making some great throws, Kris was in position, and as a DB, that's just something you have to live with."
In addition to 307 passing yards given up, including 19 to Jordan Love, who relieved Rodgers, the Vikings allowed 174 yards on the ground.
Aaron Jones led the way with 76 yards on eight carries. Dillon had a heck of a night, too, totaling 14 carries for 63 yards and two touchdowns.
Peterson placed the onus on himself and his teammates for the Vikings coming up short at Lambeau.
"As players, we just want to continue to come into work, fight, go to war for our coach, be a disciplined football team, go out there and just try to ... you know, you're judged on Ws in this game," Peterson said. "But I believe Zim' is a great head coach, has a great connection with his team. Like I said, just a lot of those games just we weren't able to finish. At the end of the day, that's not a coaching problem."
The Vikings have one game remaining, knowing it will be their final of the 2021 campaign.
When Minnesota hosts Chicago at U.S. Bank Stadium next weekend, Peterson hopes to still see the team continue the scrappiness it's shown all year.
"Definitely not the way we wanted to finish. This is just where we are at this point in the season, eliminated from the playoffs," Peterson said. "So many games coming down to the wire. Obviously not able to finish those games, and to come out here today and lose the way we did is very disappointing.
"We have a lot of soul-searching to do come Sunday and during the week, and seeing if guys still want to put some good tape on film," he added. "We know this team won't look the same next year. It's all about going out there and putting our best foot forward, every single play."