"Disappointment" was the key word for the Vikings following their 37-10 loss to the Packers Sunday night.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and players lamented a poor performance against their division rival that eliminated them from playoff contention.
Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune delved into Minnesota’s struggles – specifically Sunday, as well as in the season overall – and started with the team's offense. Scoggins wrote:
In their most important game of the season, with jobs on the line and a national TV audience watching, the Vikings had Sean Mannion throwing checkdown passes to tight ends and fullbacks and a beleaguered secondary looking clueless in trying to stop Davante Adams.
Two images fully capture the depths of embarrassment: The Vikings longest running play Sunday night was by Mannion … and until the final minute, their longest reception was by their center Garrett Bradbury.
Scoggins didn't mince words, saying "the whole performance was predictably hopeless" against a dominant Packers squad.
The Vikings entered Sunday's game ranked 12thin the NFL in scoring. An offense that features Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen and an accurate passer in [Kirk] Cousins should not finish outside the top-10 in scoring.
[General Manager Rick] Spielman has invested heavily in the offensive line in recent years, but the interior remains a liability.
While the Vikings boast a talented roster on paper, Scoggins opined that an expectation of returning to the postseason didn't pan out for a few reasons.
Here's the problem with that logic: The offense wasn't nearly as good as he advertised — not top-10 in scoring last season either — and the defense made only marginal improvement. Zimmer's unit ranks among the NFL's worst in yards allowed and rushing defense.
The rebuilt secondary undercut the defense all season. Former first-round pick Jeff Gladney's legal trouble cost him employment. Spielman's offseason cornerback signings of Bashaud Breeland and Mackensie Alexander flopped, meaning the secondary needs to be reconfigured again this offseason.
There have been more disappointing Vikings seasons, but this has been one weird team. Something seemed amiss from the start.
View game action photos between the Vikings and Packers during the Week 17 Sunday Night Football matchup at Lambeau Field.
NFL.com asks, 'Where do Vikings go from here?'
In its Week 17 takeaways, NFL.com posed the following question: Where do the Vikings go from here?
The Around the NFL staff pointed out that Cousins landed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list before arguably Minnesota's biggest game of the season and said Cousins will "rightfully or wrongfully be judged on his inability to be there for his team Sunday."
It is the top bullet point on a list of ponderances of what could've been and even more of what will be for the Vikings. Will Mike Zimmer be back on the sidelines in 2022 after the Vikings, who were eliminated from playoff contention with the loss, failed to advance to the postseason for the second year in a row and the third time in four seasons?
Nobody gave the Vikings much of a chance Sunday even before Cousins was ruled out, but that hardly softens the finality of it all. In a season marked by close games, Minnesota's playoff hopes were dashed on a cold night in an even chillier blowout. The postseason isn't coming, but it would seem myriad changes could be in Minnesota.
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 5, 2022.
Vikings receive 'F' for performance at Lambeau Field
Following Sunday's slate of contests, CBS Sports handed out its weekly grades for all teams who played over the weekend, and John Breech gave Minnesota an "F." He wrote:
Without Kirk Cousins, the Vikings were no match for the Packers – and even with Cousins, they might not have been any match for Green Bay.
Breech said the game was "a blowout from start to finish" in Green Bay's favor.
To pull off the upset at Lambeau, the Vikings would have needed a nearly perfect performance from their defense, but instead, they got the opposite of that. Offensively, the Vikings were so bad that an offensive lineman (Garrett Bradbury) who caught a deflected pass ended up having the longest reception (21 yards) of the game for Minnesota. You know things aren't going well when an offensive lineman has the longest catch of the night for you.
Breech gave the Packers, meanwhile, an "A" for the outing that clinched the NFC No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
If there was a mercy rule in the NFL, this game might have been called at halftime. The Packers won this game thanks to a nearly perfect performance from a defense that held the Vikings to under 200 yards. The Packers offense was also nearly perfect, especially Davante Adams, who caught 11 passes for 136 yards, which was nearly half of Aaron Rodgers' 288-yard passing total. Aaron Jones (76 yards) and A.J. Dillon (63 yards, two touchdowns) continue to be a strong one-two punch, and they both should come in handy come playoff time.