Senior writer jclombardi grades Packers win over Vikings.
SUMMARY: The Packers turned two Favre’s third-quarter interceptions into touchdowns erasing a Vikings’ halftime lead and including a 32-yard return by linebacker Bishop. QB Rodgers was 21 of 34 for 295 yards and two touchdowns.
GAME BALLS: LB Bishop; S Collins; RB Jackson; WR Jones.
INJURY REPORT: DE Jenkins (calf strain). DE Pickett (reinjured ankle). LB Poppinga and DE Neal headed to I.R.
Report Card Grades–Good, Bad, & Ugly (LA vs. SE):
PASSING OFFENSE: C+ vs B-. With solid protection in spread formation offense, QB shaky Rodgers completed 21 of 34 for 295 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Rodgers had three tipped passes by linemen including one for an interception. On at least seven passes, miscommunications led to Rodgers being out-of-sync with his receivers dealing with Vikings coverage schemes. On two passes, he committed two Favre-ish interceptions. WR Jones caught 4 big passes for 107 yards and WR Jennings caught 6 balls for 74 yards and one touchdown exploiting a weak Vikings secondary. Rookie TE Quarless had 2 catches for 16 yards and one touchdown.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C vs C. The Packers had 23 rushes for 84 yards averaging 3.7 yards per carry. RB Jackson had his best game of the year. He rushed for 58 yards averaging 4.5 yards and 4 catches for 46 yards for a combined 104 total yards and one touchdown. After FB Kuhn converted a 4 and 1 down with a two yard run on an earlier play in the fourth quarter, the decision to execute the same exact play in a similar scenario had many scratching their heads. The predictable play led to FB Kuhn being stuffed with no gain by the Vikings defense stopping the Packers drive. Further, he should have kicked the field goal.
PASSING DEFENSE: B vs A-. QB Favre completed 16 of 29 for 212 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions, and 50.4 passer rating. Explosive WR Harvin had 5 catches for 65 yards and one touchdown abusing CB Woodson. CB Williams limited WR Moss to three catches for 30 yards and one touchdown. The Packers pressured Favre throughout the game getting one sack and many quarterback hits. Without reinjured DE Jenkins and DE Pickett, the Packers were down to three defensive linemen who made the necessary big plays. DE Wynn had the big coverage sack. Rookie DE Wilson’s pressure on Favre led to LB Bishop’s interception and score. LB Hawk had 6 tackles and 5 assists. LB Bishop had 5 tackles and 3 assists. LBs Hawk and Bishop each had big interceptions. In the play-of-the-game, LB Bishop returned an interception for a 32 yards touchdown. Also, when the Vikings were driving deep into Packers territory, S Collins made a big interception.
RUSHING DEFENSE: D- vs D. The run defense was absolutely awful giving up 196 total yards. The depleted front seven simply failed to contain all-pro Peterson. Peterson rushed for 131 yards averaging 4.7 yards per carry. The linebackers overpursued on the edges giving inside openings for too many runs.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C vs C-. With the exception of one 48 yard return, the kickoff coverage limited WR/KR Harvin. KR Lee had 5 kickoffs averaging 20 yards including one for 30 yards. The fake field goal was a great play, but the execution failed as backup QB Flynn overthrew the pass to a stumbling TE Quarless. Punter Masthay punted a better game.
COACHING: B vs B. Coach McCarthy and his staff get credit for inspiring the team to beat the Vikings. The games plans were solid enough. The units got the big plays and turnovers to win the game. Yet, in the first half, the Packers had 268 yards and only 14 points to show for it. Also, in the second half, especially the fourth quarter, the offense struggled with two awful executed plays in two offensive series. First, FB Kuhn got stuffed on a déjà vu fourth and 1 from the Vikings’ 34 to halt one drive. Second, QB Rodgers did not come close to completing a pass on third and 3 to keep the final series alive and run out the clock. Instead, the Packers were forced to punt giving a final shot to the Vikings. Again, the offense stood still playing too conservative football and allowing the Vikings to almost catch up. Coach McCarthy finally won two good challenges, although he should have also challenged the 3rd down spot of the ball putting the Packers short of a first down in the 4th quarter.
OVERALL: B vs A+ CBS Sportsline. Ravaged by injuries, especially along the defensive line, the Packers get a win they absolutely needed to have, and pull into a first-place tie with the Chicago Bears in the NFC North.