There were no reports of pigs flying or hell freezing over on Saturday night, but there was probably a better chance of those events happening than of the Vikings beating Green Bay with backup quarterback Joe Webb at the helm. Despite putting on a brave face, and an early attempt at a zone-read option offense, the Vikings were quickly overwhelmed in every aspect of the contest and lost 24-10 in a game that was not as close as the score indicates.
Let’s face it, the Vikings could have had Christian Ponder at quarterback and played a mistake-filled game, and still lost at “The Frozen Tundra” on Saturday night. The Packers had their full complement of talented receivers for the first time all season, and in case you didn’t know it, Aaron Rodgers is a pretty good quarterback. He started out the game slicing and dicing the Minnesota defense with short passes, and then toyed with them for the rest of the game. The Vikings defensive line generated little or no pressure, and when Rodgers has open receivers and the time to throw, he doesn’t miss.
For some reason, the purple defensive braintrust put our secondary in the ultimate prevent defense. It prevented us from winning. They played back so far that the short pass was an automatic completion…often for big yardage. Rodgers was 23-33 for 271 yards, and completed passes to ten different receivers.
The Vikings offense started the game with the “zone-read offense” that has been successfully implemented in the NFL by teams with mobile quarterbacks. Joe Webb and Adrian Peterson had the Packers back on their heels with a mixture of option style misdirection runs. The first drive of the game went 53 yards on ten plays before Blair Walsh hit a 33-yard field goal
to give the Vikings a 3-0 lead. The defense held the Packers in check for the next series, and when the offense got the ball back offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave decided to abandon the run option offense and turn Joe Webb into a pocket passer. Webb responded with a bounce pass that brought back memories of Donovan McNabb’s worst days. The Vikings were dead. They just didn’t know it yet.
The Packer’s defense was loaded for bear…or in this case for Adrian Peterson. With Clay Mathews, Sam Shields, and Charles Woodson back in action, the Packers were able to stack the line and still stymie our receivers with single coverage. Peterson finished the game with 99 yards on 22 attempts, and his longest rush was 18 yards. It was a sad ending for one of the greatest seasons by any NFL running back in history.
If there is anything good that can come out of this debacle, it is that the Joe Webb era is officially over forever. All season long, every time Ponder faltered, the Vikings faithful clamored for the game-changing backup to come in and save the game. Leslie Frazier didn’t listen to the fans, and now we know why. Joe Webb is a horrible passer. If he was trying to hit the side of the barn, there would be farm animals with footballs sticking out of their ears. Webb’s line for Minnesota’s biggest game of the year was 11-30 for 180 yards. Fifty of those yards came on a touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins in garbage time.
We owe Green Bay a debt of gratitude for not running up the score. If McCarthy was a vindictive man, Rodgers could easily have thrown for three or four more touchdowns. The Packers proved Saturday night that they are a talented team that is healthy and hot at the right time. Would you bet against them in the rematch with the 49ers?
The Vikings deserve congratulations for a 10-6 season and playoff berth.
The team has come light years from last year’s 3-13 club, but there is still room for improvement. Minnesota desperately needs help at linebacker and receiver, and imagine what could be accomplished with a real quarterback who could keep defenses from stacking the line against Peterson. Will Frazier’s contract be extended? Stay tuned. We should be in for an interesting offseason.