While the first game of Wild Card weekend had you on the edge of your seats all the way into the fourth quarter, the third match-up between the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings didn’t live up to the hype many had given it. AP came into the game averaging over 200 yards rushing in the previous two match-ups against Green Bay and for the Packers to win they needed to limit his productivity.
Well, the Packers did just that and it wasn’t even close. Peterson still ended up nearing the century mark, but a lot of those yards came on a couple of long runs later in the game with the Packers already up by three TDs.
Let’s take a closer look at The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from this one.
The Good: The Green Bay Packers Defense
Green Bay allowed the Vikings to march down the field on the first drive of the game, but held them to a successful field goal attempt. Packers’ fans were surely worried at the ease with which the Vikings moved down the field. But not to worry. The defense made sure that the scoreboard would show a 24-3 lead before giving up a big play in garbage time.
Over the previous two match-ups the Packers defense allowed an average of 206 rushing yards per game to running backs, mostly of course to Adrian Peterson. This week they cut that number by more than 50% and only allowed 99 yards to running backs.
The quick strikes by the offense forced the Vikings to pass more than they would have been comfortable with, which allowed the defense to cash in on opportunities to take the ball away. In the first two games the Packers defense forced three total turnovers. They forced three more this week alone including an interception on a drive where the Vikings had been moving the ball well and could have made it a much tighter game.
If this Packers defense shows up the rest of the playoffs, teams throughout the NFL should start to worry.
The Bad: The Vikings mounting turnovers
If I told you that the Packers had only three more first downs than the Vikings, that both teams were within two total yards of each other, that the Vikings more than doubled the total rushing yards of the Packers, and that the Vikings converted 36% of third downs compared to 21% for Green Bay, you might assume that the Vikings won this game or that it was decided by no more than three points.
So how did we reach a final score that saw Green Bay win by 14 in what was a 21 point lead for a large part of the second half? Turnovers and penalties.
Green Bay didn’t turn the ball over a single time all game and they only had two penalties. Minnesota lost two fumbles, threw an interception, and had four penalties including one that allowed Green Bay to get a first down on a fourth and short. It was this sloppy pay and poor decision making by an untested and unproven quarterback that cost the Vikings any real shot at winning this game.
The Ugly: Joe Webb
The Vikings are a running team so the loss of Christian Ponder didn’t seem to be a big cause for concern. Apparently no one told that to Joe Webb who attempted 30 passes and only completed 11 of them.
Webb ended the game with 180 passing yards, and passing TD, and an interception. Those stats aren’t the worst I have seen, but that TD and 50 of those passing yards all came on one play in garbage time with Green Bay up 24-3. Take that away and Webb finished the day 10 for 29 for 130 yards and a pick. Ouch!
Webb was also sacked three times forcing the Vikings to look to pass even more often to get out of 2nd or 3rd and long situations. Next time Minnesota, just bring in an extra blocker for AP and leave Webb on the sideline for every play.