Senior writer jclombardi grades Packers win over Vikings.
SUMMARY: After a sluggish first quarter, QB Rodgers rebounded to throw for 301 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Packers over the Vikings 31-3. With timely turnovers, the defense shut down QB Favre and RB Peterson holding the Vikings to a field goal.
GAME BALLS: QB Rodgers; WR Jones; WR Jennings; CB Williams.
INJURY REPORT: S Bigby (hamstring). S Smith (ankle sprain).
Report Card Grades–Good, Bad, & Ugly (JC vs. SE):
PASSING OFFENSE: A- vs A-. After an awful first quarter that saw the Packers get only eight total years, QB Rodgers settled down to throw 22 of 31 passes for 301 yards, 4 touchdowns, no interceptions, and 141.3 passer rating. On offense, the Packers adjusted to quick-hitting and vertical passes exploiting the Vikings’ glaring weakness with Allen and rookie Cook at the Nos. 2 and 3 cornerbacks. WR Jennings had 7 catches for 152 yards and 3 touchdowns. WR Jones had 3 catches for 51 yards and 1 big touchdown. If the Packers have a second playmaker in their receiving corps, it’s James Jones who has overtaken Donald Driver as a playmaker. That was a great catch by Jones in the end zone. Driver hasn’t had a 100-yard game since Nov. 26 last year. Maybe the injury is a factor, but that’s what often happens to declining players. They get hurt.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C VS C. The Packers struggled rushing, but they got 91 total yards. Rookie RB Nance looked strong, especially in short yardage, getting 12 carries for 37 yards. RB Jackson had 14 carries for 28 yards. Now, they both will share running time in future games. QB Rodgers scrambled with three runs for 21 yards.
PASSING DEFENSE: A- vs B+. Under constant pressure facing an effective Packers fire zone blitzing, Vikings QB Favre had only a quick small pocket to work with completing only 17 of 38 for 208 yards, an interception, and a rating of 51.2. The inside linebackers did a fair number of double shoots, too, and they might not have gotten sacks, but they had Favre on the carpet from the start. Jenkins, Raji, the inside backers — they were all pushing the pocket and Favre had nowhere to step up. And that’s the way to beat him. He can’t get out on the perimeter and make plays anymore. In the first half, two timely turnovers, a forced fumble by CB Woodson and an interception by CB Williams, stopped two early Vikings drives to set the tempo for the game. The entire defense looked stellar led by CB Woodson with 7 tackles and 1 forced fumble, by CB Williams with his big interception, and by LB Matthews with 5 tackles and 1 sack. Rookie CB Shields looked shaky in three coverage plays involving WR Rice and WR Lewis.
RUSHING DEFENSE: B vs B-. Led by the front seven line, the rush defense schemed to stop the run doing a great job. They limited RB Peterson to 72 yards. The defense was aggressive to limit Peterson from the big plays. The two inside backers, Bishop and Hawk, were really sound in making sure there were no cutback lanes. Nick Barnett was an aggressive player, but he had a tendency to overrun plays and leave lanes open. Both Hawk and Bishop attacked the line of scrimmage, but their run fits also were exceptional.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B vs B. On four returns, KR Harvin had only 69 yards averaging only 17.3 yards. Punter Masthay’s gross average was a low 39.2 yards, but he had an excellent net average of 38.2, placing two inside the 20 and forcing three fair catches. The Packers return specialists had no special day.
COACHING: A- vs A. While the early game plan stunk, the Packers adjusted to establish the tempo of the game crushing an important NFL rival sweeping the Vikings series. They stand at 7-3 with the Bears at the NFC top. The Packers converted only 8 of 15 third downs. They were a solid 2 for 2 in the red zone. DC Capers’ defense continued to make timely takeaways showing solid performances in the last three games giving up only 10 points.