by Mark Metzler
Vikings fan should be proud – and a little amazed. Even though we were all waiting for it, the Vikings didn’t choke. Calls went the team’s way. They managed the clock well at the end of the game, and a Vikings kicker actually hit a clutch field goal. The end result was the Vikings beat the Packers 34-31 in one of the more entertaining games all season.
I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never did, and I have to say the Vikings looked as if they were the best team the Packers played all season. Congratulations to Mike Zimmer for not letting Aaron Rodgers back on the field at the end of the game.
Sure, I’m disappointed it didn’t go the Packers way. It could have been different if the Packers’ first interception of a Kirk Cousins’ pass wasn’t reversed because of a roughing the passer call. And it could have been different if Darnell Savage didn’t drop the ball with two minutes left. It looked like he had control, but he didn’t. I will say that both the calls were right.
After a shaky start, the Packers played well, too, but not great. From the end of the first half until the end of the game they were unstoppable offensively. From that point on, Rodgers showed MVP form, as he threw for four touchdowns and nearly 400 yards. He was able to handle the Vikings pressure and hit open receivers. All told, he connected with seven different receivers for the game, including two touchdowns to Davante Adams, who was actually the second-best receiver on the field for the first time in a number of years.
The Vikings’ Justin Jefferson was unstoppable, getting two touchdowns of his own and 169 yards receiving. He was moving past people as if they were standing still. Cousins played like a guy who actually deserves all the money the Vikings are paying him.
It’s got to be so tough being a Vikings fan. You don’t really know which team is going to show up, which player is going to fail, or which coach is going to forget what it’s like to think. It’s been that way since the late 1960s. On Sunday, though, Zimmer looked like a defensive genius and Baby Kubiak called a very good game against a good Packers defense. They are in the playoff hunt for a few more weeks, at least.
The Packers defense was undermanned with the recent loss of Whitney Mercilus, and the inability of Rashan Gary to play Sunday. Add that to the long-term losses of Jaire Alexander, who would have been matched up with Jefferson, and Za’Darius Smith; it was clearly a hurting defense. Still, I think they played OK. It’s just that the Vikings played better.
On offense, the team lost Elgton Jenkins to a knee injury. Early indications are it’s a torn ACL, which will put him out for a year. It’s a shame. He’s quite the player. He plays all the offensive line positions well and was likely headed to another Pro Bowl. Now, with his injury, I would say the Packers have lost their three top offensive lineman in the past year, with David Bakhtiari and Josh Myers also out. Bakhtiari should be back by the end of the year, but the other two are gone. I don’t know if that is going to be enough to make it all the way through the playoffs.
Another area of concern is the kicking game. Mason Crosby missed a 32-yard field goal early on. That was a big miss. He’s been horrible lately. He’s also a Packers Hall of Famer, so it’s unlikely that the Packers will replace him even though he clearly has the yips. Remember, the Packers do have another kicker on the practice squad in J.J. Molson.
Next week it’s the Rams, who are one of the better teams in the NFC. It should be entertaining as well.