The fear after dealing wideout Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills last spring was that the Minnesota Vikings offense would lack firepower. At least for one game, it was Mike Zimmer’s defense that floundered – in a colossal manner.
The Vikings first offensive drive was methodical and was aided by a significant facemask penalty. Halfback Dalvin Cook scored, and Minnesota snatched a quick lead, 7-3.
It would be the most optimistic juncture of the game. Thereafter, Minnesota could not prevent Aaron Rodgers from chopping at the trunk of the Vikings defense. Rodgers obsessively targeted his keynote pass-catcher, Davante Adams. And, it worked.
Adams notched a career-high 14 receptions, and no combinationof Vikings defensive backs could slow the 27-year-old. By committee, the Packers ball-carriers also gouged the middle of the Vikings defense on the ground.
Green Bay finished the Week 1 bout with 158 rushing yards. Couple that with Rodgers’ 364 passing yards and Minnesota’s hopes of heading to Indianapolis next week with a 1-0 record were vanquished. All told, the Packers thumped the Vikings 43-24.
These Pandemic Vikings didn’t play well – especially on defense. Several notable lows and not-good firsts occurred versus the Packers on Sunday.
Most Points Allowed by a Zimmer-led Vikings team
This dates back six years. Zimmer was hired as skipper in 2014, and this game against the Packers was the very worst from a points-allowed perspective. Aaron Rodgers and a hodgepodge of running backs eviscerated the Vikings defense, even though Minnesota was stout early on in red zone situations.
In six Zimmer-coached campaigns, the Vikings had allowed opponents to score of 30+ points just 13 times. Before the Week 1 meltdown versus Green Bay, this was tied for the fewest in the NFL since 2014 (with the Denver Broncos). Today, Minnesota allowed 43 points and the tally of 30+ points-allowed affairs now ticks up to 14.
It’s even more flummoxing that this Zimmer low-point took place at U.S. Bank Stadium. Prior to this matchup with the Packers, the Vikings only allowed teams to score north of 30 points twice – in 2016 versus the Colts and 2018 against the Saints. Both games were Vikings losses.
Worst Time of Possession in over 40 years
For a team that fancies itself on defense, this is stomach-churning. The Vikings possessed the football on offense for a paltry 18 minutes and 44 seconds – their lowest total since 1977. Foremost, the Vikings style of play under Zimmer effectively mandates that they control the clock.
Zimmer, before today, has cultivated a culture of defense that protects leads and forces turnovers. Today, it did neither. In that respect, it’s rather incredible the Vikings somehow put 34 points on the scoreboard in just under 19 minutes without special teams or defensive touchdowns. If you’re an optimist, this should tell you the offense will be there when the defense finds a way to get off the field in the coming weeks.
With the Zimmer as head coach, the Vikings win 77 percent of games in which they control the time-of-possession advantage. This game was doomed from the first quarter on from that standpoint.
Aaron Rodgers sets U.S. Bank Stadium Records for an Opponent
Heading into the 2020 season, the Vikings had never allowed an opposing quarterback to sling more than two touchdowns in a regular-season game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Rodgers changed that and added a fourth touchdown as a consolation groin kick.
In fairness to Drew Brees, he tossed three touchdowns in the 2017 NFC Divisional round playoff game before his team was miraculously stunned by Case Keenum and Stefon Diggs.
As for passing yards, Rodgers’ 364 total was the most-ever allowed by a Vikings team at U.S. Bank Stadium. Before this Packers showdown, the Vikings unbelievably owned a 7-0 win-loss record at U.S. Bank Stadium when an opposing passer threw for more than 250 passing yards. In this very specific metric, they now fall to 7-1.
Sadly, at a birds-eye view, it’s pretty fitting that Rodgers was the man to shatter these records. He’s been a wanted-man, Viking killer for over a decade.
Most Combined Points Ever in a Zimmer-coached game
If you’re new to Vikings fandom, you will quickly find out that Mike Zimmer doesn’t prefer or win shootouts. Once the points start flying onto the scoreboard in unison for both teams, just know that the game plan has been scrapped in an unscheduled fashion.
In Week 7 last season, the Vikings and Lions combined for 72 points. It was the game that Adam Thielen was injured. Before this tryst with Green Bay, it was the highest-combined scoring effort in a Vikings game under Mike Zimmer. That game versus Detroit never really felt like a true shootout, but in the realm of Zimmer, it was.
Minnesota prefers games in the 24-17 or 27-24 range rather than pinball-scoring games. The team is constructed to get a lead and lockdown defensively thereafter.
The Week 1 Vikings defense did no such locking down against Green Bay and is now 0-1 as a result. The Vikings and Packers combined for 77 points – the highest-scoring game ever between the two teams.