The Good, Bad And Ugly From The Green Bay Packers’ Win Over The Minnesota Vikings

The Green Bay Packers took some hits in free agency this offseason.

The Packers received little help in the draft.

On Sunday, though, Green Bay reminded the football world that it went 13-3 last year, won the NFC North by three games and came within one win of the Super Bowl.

The Packers thoroughly dominated host Minnesota — a team most pundits and oddsmakers considered the favorite in the division — and rolled to a 43-34 win.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly from Green Bay’s win over the Vikings.

THE GOOD

DAVANTE ADAMS: If Adams keeps this up, he might set most of the single-season receiving records in team history.

Adams had 14 receptions, which tied legendary Don Hutson for the most in a game in franchise history. Adams also had 156 yards receiving, two touchdowns, finished with 43.8% of Green Bay’s receptions and was targeted on 17 of 41 passes thrown by Aaron Rodgers (41.5%).

“We’re always going to try to get him the ball,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said of Adams. “He’s such a dynamic playmaker. Some of it was just him and Aaron being on the same page in terms of some of these run alerts that we like to throw. Other times, it was based upon the coverage that was presented in front of us.”

AARON RODGERS: The Packers drafted Jordan Love as their quarterback of the future in April. Rodgers reminded the football world, though, he might have a lot of football left himself.

Rodgers threw four touchdown passes, completed 32 of 44 passes (72.7%) for 364 yards, and was razor sharp from start to finish.

“Yeah man, I seen that laser focus since the beginning of the week,” wideout Davante Adams said of Rodgers. “Obviously he’s always extremely focused, but there’s a certain type of look in his eye he has and he definitely had that going into the week.”

OWNING THE NFC NORTH: Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur has never lost a game in the NFC North. Yes, you read that right.

LaFleur improved to 7-0 inside the division after Sunday’s win. The Packers swept their divisional foes last season on their way to a 13-3 season, then opened the 2020 campaign with another win inside the NFC North.

“Obviously, that’s the best way to ensure a playoff spot is to dominate your division,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said last week. “We’ve, I think, won the division title six times in my 12 years. We’ve won it with as few as eight wins and as many as 15. We won the Super Bowl without winning the division and we’ve made the playoffs without winning the division, as well.

“But it is definitely the easiest way to secure a home playoff spot. It’s always very important. I think our division is always a really competitive. Then again, the NFC North has always been characterized by a number of really strong defenses and elite players, especially on that side of the ball.”

BALL CONTROL: Green Bay held the ball a whopping 41 minutes, 16 seconds. In the first half alone, the Packers had the ball 22 minutes, 45 seconds.

Green Bay ran 76 plays from scrimmage, while the Vikings had just 49. The Packers put up 522 yards of total offense, 31 first downs and averaged 6.9 yards per play.

Green Bay set the tone in the first half when it ran 44 plays to just 17 for the Vikings. The Packers also held a 271-97 advantage in total yards and had 18 first downs to just seven for Minnesota in the first half.

“That’s important for us,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “We had over 40 minutes with the ball. It wears the defense out for sure. We had a lot of plays. We punted one time today, were very efficient. A lot of guys making plays.”

JAIRE ALEXANDER: The Packers’ gifted third-year cornerback was personally responsible for nine points in the first half.

The Vikings led, 7-3, early in the second quarter, but had the ball on their own 4-yard line. Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine sent Alexander on a blitz off the left edge. Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins never saw Alexander coming and he was dumped for a safety.

“I was anticipating run because of the motion by (wideout Adam) Thielen, so once I anticipated run, I shot my shot,” Alexander said. “I slid in the DMs, basically. And when I saw it wasn’t a run, it was too late to turn back, so I just kept going.”

Then late in the first half, Cousins had Adam Thielen open on an out route. Cousins threw too far to the inside, though, and Alexander made a brilliant interception with Thielen trying to rip the ball out of his hands.

Just two plays later, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hit Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a 45-yard touchdown that gave Green Bay a 22-7 lead.

THE BAD

RUN DEFENSE: The Packers were fortunate to take a big lead and turn the Vikings one-dimensional. That’s because Minnesota showed that Green Bay’s run defense hasn’t improved from a year ago.

Minnesota ran the ball 22 times for 134 yards — an impressive average of 6.1 yards per carry.

A year ago, Green Bay finished the regular season ranked 23rd in rushing defense (120.1) and 24th in yards allowed per carry (4.7). The Packers then ignored defensive line in both free agency and April’s draft.

The Vikings showed Sunday’s that it could be another long season for the Packers’ run defense.

MARQUEZ VALDES-SCANLTING: The biggest knock on “MVS” his first two seasons was inconsistency. That didn’t change Sunday.

Valdes-Scantling had an impressive 45-yard touchdown reception late in the first half. He also had a 41-yard reception when Minnesota jumped off sides and Aaron Rodgers took a shot in Valdes-Scantling’s direction.

In the third quarter, though, MVS dropped a shallow cross on third down that would have gone for a first down. Later in the quarter, he dropped a perfectly thrown deep ball from Aaron Rodgers that would have gone for about 50 yards.

The Packers did a tremendous job scheming plays to take advantage of Valdes-Scantling’s blazing speed. The gifted wideout failed to take full advantage, though.

RED ZONE OFFENSE: Green Bay’s red zone offense was underwhelming — to say the least.

The Packers had six trips into the red zone and came away with three touchdowns (50.0%).

On Green Bay’s opening drive of the game, it had a first-and-goal from the Vikings’ 10, but went backwards. The Packers had a second-and-goal at the Minnesota 1-yard line on their next drive, but came away with nothing.

On second down, Aaron Rodgers held the ball too long before throwing it away. Aaron Jones was stuffed for no gain on third down, and on fourth down, Davante Adams dropped a touchdown.

In the second quarter, the Packers reached the Vikings’ 12-yard line. But an intentional grounding penalty on Rodgers forced Green Bay to eventually settle for a field goal.

The Packers finally broke through in the second half, scoring touchdowns on both of their trips inside the 20-yard line.

THE UGLY

OFFENSIVE LINE DEPTH: Three of Green Bay’s top six offensive linemen are now hurt.

Billy Turner, the preferred starter at right tackle, missed the game with a knee injury. Lucas Patrick, the Packers’ sixth offensive linemen, left the game in the first half with a shoulder injury and didn’t return. And right guard Lane Taylor suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter and left the field on a cart.

“I feel awful for Lane and Lucas that they weren’t able to finish for us,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “But it was really encouraging to see two guys, really three guys when things happen, be able to step up and deliver for us.”

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