Monday, November 24, 2014

Recap: Packers Hold Against The Vikings, 24-21

It was a very close game but the Green Bay Packers never trailed either. The best the Vikings could do was hang around. It never felt like the game got away from them.
The Vikings had a good game plan on defense. Their safeties played deep which allowed their cornerbacks to play tight coverage all over the field, knowing they'd have safety help deep if they got in trouble. It did leave them vulnerable against the run. Despite RB Eddie Lacy's illness, he was effective rushing for 5 yards per carry and dangerous as a playmaker who scored two touchdowns. They weren't able to get a lot of pressure on QB Aaron Rodgers either, who had an efficient game with a high completion percentage and no turnovers. It wasn't one for the highlight reel, since the Vikings did their best to take the deep passing game away, but he did took what the defense was giving him.

On offense, it was another game to learn from for LT David Bakhtiari, who struggled against DE Everson Griffen (as many have this season) and it also was a learning experience for WR Davante Adams, who isn't always on the same page as Aaron Rodgers. The Packers struggled early when Lacy wasn't as effective on the ground and WR Jordy Nelson was battling the Vikings's physical corners, so they might have sustained more drives if Adams could have gotten himself more involved in the passing game.

QB Teddy Bridgewater struggled badly with accuracy early on but he was able to sustain two long first half scoring drives with an effective running game (mostly when he scrambled) and some costly penalties. The Packers had been averaging 5 to 6 penalties per game this season, but they had eight in this one, including a costly hold by Micah Hyde that negated an INT. It was a quiet game for both Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews (no sacks, one QB hit for Matthews) though the Vikings struggled in pass protection the previous week against the Bears. Hyde ended up redeeming himself with a sack and an INT later in the game, and they needed that because he was the only stand out playmaker against the Vikings on defense.

I'd worry about a performance like this with the Patriots coming up next week, but the Packers are a different team at home this season. Just as the giant blowouts at Lambeau only count for one win, the same can be said for the close road victories. This one pushed them into the NFC North lead and the No. 2 seed for the playoffs (and the one seed moved closer because of Arizona's loss in Seattle). This was a very good weekend to give them some momentum before they face one of the best teams in the NFL next week.

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