Packers 34, Minnesota 31. NFC NORTH CHAMPS!!! A very surprising end to a disappointing 1-4 start. What changed during the season to turn 1-4 into 9-6? Surprisingly it was the improvement in the offense. The defense has been run over all season, but in the Packers first 5 games, only the week 3 loss against Indianapolis was an excellent offensive performance. Tom Rossely's health problems that led to Mike Sherman calling plays after week 5 could have been a reason. The offense played fine at Carolina and vs. Chicago, but neither was a dominant performance. The Packers offense didn't score a TD against Tennessee until they were down 24-3, which was far too late. The offense was in a slump starting against Philadelphia, continuing vs. Detroit, and didn't break out until the 2nd half vs. Jacksonville. The offense has overall been great this season, but the defense can't stop anybody and the offense has to play at a very high level the rest of the season.
First Half: Please, please, please tackle somebody. LB Nick Barnett is playing hard but can't cover the entire field. LB Na'il Diggs is trying to play through a serious back/kidney injury. There is no one in the defensive backfield that was not tackling bad. Jsonline.com has a recent article pointing the finger at SS Mark Roman, who is the most perplexing tackler, because prior to December he was the best tackler in the secondary but he has been playing poorly ever since. CB Joey Thomas's wiff on the tackle of RB Michael Bennett's TD run was the worst missed tackle I've seen in the NFL this season. Fortunately, QB Brett Favre had his way with Minnesota's defense for the second time this season. Minnesota held the big play in check, but couldn't stop Favre moving the offense down the field on long drives. Favre will have to play like this the rest of the season. Packers 17, Minnesota 21.
Second Half: As bad as the Packers secondary was at tackling, they played very well in coverage. The tackling improved, the coverage was good, and Minnesota didn't get a big play on offense the rest of the game. Their only TD was the outstanding interception by LB Chris Claiborne. The Packers defense has had problems with good tight ends in coverage all season, but TE Jermaine Wiggins was covered well and had minimal impact after being a major weapon against the Packers in week 10. DE Aaron Kampman had his best game of the season and had a major impact. He ran down WR Nate Burleson down from behind on a short pass, which was unbelievable. Minnesota's WRs just gave up on QB Daunte Culpepper in the fourth quarter. How great is it to have automatic (within 40 yards) K Ryan Longwell with the Packers? Packers 34, Minnesota 31.
The most amazing thing about this game was the way the score, final play, total yardage were all identical with the week 10 game in Green Bay.