The games don’t much bigger in the second week of the season than the Minnesota Vikings versus Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. And this one did not disappoint—unless you are a Vikings fan. The Packers, thanks to unexpected 21-0 lead, held on for a 21-16 win and grabbed first place in the NFC North Division.
The Vikings had every opportunity to win this ballgame, despite early problems on defense and poor offensive play throughout. Instead, they drop a very valuable division game and now have to battle back into relevance in the North.
The Vikings are now 1-1 on the season with the Los Angeles Raiders coming to U.S. Bank Stadium next week. That’s a game they should win, but unless the quarterback starts to play better, they won’t beat anyone.
The game this week was shifted back to arm (and legs) of quarterback Kirk Cousins, and he surpassed his total of 10 passes against the Falcons with four minutes left in the second quarter—unfortunately that pass was tipped and picked. Cousins made one big play in the first half—a 61-yard completion to Chad Beebe when he was being tackled and falling down. But his numbers on the day (14 of 32 for one touchdown, two interceptions and a 52.9 quarterback rating) revealed just as bad a performance as it was. He missed some passes, was late in others and had some ball security issues (see below).
But the worst play was his decision to pass in the redzone to closely covered Stefon Diggs when the team was moving in to take the lead. Diggs was doubled covered, the pass came on first down and 10 from the 8-yard line the Vikings had been moving the ball with ease. Don’t call a pass there and throw it away in the situation. This one will sting for a bit among the fan base.
“You just can’t do that,” Cousins said, referring to his interception in the endzone.
For the second week in a row, Dalvin Cook carried the offense. He hit a home in the first half with a 75-yard blast for a touchdown. The Vikings rode him the rest of the way (with Alexander Mattison chipping in again), as he compiled 154 yard on 29 carries with that score. Cook is everything we knew we were missing when he has not been on the field. But he can’t do it alone. The offense needed better play out of the quarterback in this one; so, Cook’s stellar performance goes for naught this week.
Stefan Diggs got on the board—making his first catch of the game for a 45-yard touchdown (he had another catch and score called backed on a phantom offensive interference call). It was nice to see Diggs (or any receiver making hay after last week), but Diggs stained his excellent catch by taking off his helmet and jawing with the Green bay crowd. It cost the Vikings 15 yards and the extra point. We love him for his emotion, but only to a point. Get it together, Stef, please “celebrate” within the rules.
In the first quarter/half, the Vikings defense put the team in a hole early. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers opened the game with a 4-play, 75-yard drive that shocked Zimmer and his charges. The second drive wasn’t much better. Then a Vikings turnover resulted in 21-0 deficit before all the Packers fans finished their first beverage (okay, third beverage). The defense then created a turnover of their own (resulting in no points) and followed that with a big third-down stop (three and out), and then another stop to stop the bleeding and change the momentum. But the damage in this one was done.
“We didn’t start fat enough, got down 21-0—it’s tough to win games like that,” Harrison Smith told KFAN radio. “We just didn’t execute like we should have the first couple of drives.”
From that point on the Vikings defense played lights out, again, holding the Packers scoreless on 11 consecutive drives. This was the defense that played for the Purple last week, but it was too little too late to help an offense that makes too many mistakes.
“Doesn’t matter how hard you fight when you do things like that,” head coach Mike Zimmer told KFAN radio of the team’s many mistakes.
Harrison Smith is the leader of the defense, kind of like Zim on the field. After the unit got off to a bad start, Smith made a couple consecutive plays (stripping a reception from Davante Adams and a tackle for a loss) to force a punt and begin the frustration of Rodgers. It helped fuel the defense to change the momentum. On the game, he had six tackles, one for a loss, a pass defended and a fumble recovery. Harry doesn’t always get the recognition he deserves, but he is always a part of the game, win, lose or draw—so we’ll give him a little love here.
Chad Beebe was frustrated last week without the opportunity to make play in the return game and the passing game almost non-existent. He changed things up this week with a big catch and run of 61-yards to set up a Vikings field goal. His speed was certainly in evidence, when he made a great move to help out his quarterback under duress and then raced past a pack of Green Bay defenders. It was one of the big plays that kept Minnesota in the game, but they needed to do more to come out with the win.
Should be Ending
Cousins fumbled on two consecutive plays in the first quarter. The team escaped with ball after the first fumble, but not the second—and it led to a virtually insurmountable 21-0 lead for the Packers. All teams fumble, but that was the fourth for Cousins in his first five quarter this season. If the Vikings want Cousins to be more active with his feet, they better work more with on ball security.
Pass interference penalties. The Vikings had 4-55 (three on offense and one on defense) in the first half and they helped destroy any momentum the offense had and served to keep the team in the hole they dug. On the game, the Vikings were penalized eight times for 100 yards and that coupled with the performance last week will make it penalties a huge emphasis for this team. They didn’t have the offsides infractions they suffered last week, so there is that small positive. But Zim won’t like care about that in practice this week.
A missed field goal in Lambeau. Dan Bailey’s 47-yard miss in the first quarter hurt the team, but brought up too many memories from last season in this matchup. Baily kicked an extra point but then missed another (although that was a 48-yard PAT thanks to Diggs—and it was blocked). But now we have to worry about the kicking game again? Definitely tired of writing that.