The Green Bay Packers return home to Lambeau to host the division rival Minnesota Vikings. Coming off of their third straight loss, the Packers look to get back on track and overcome the offensive woes that have plagued their season so far.
The Vikings are hot, rattling off two straight wins after starting the season 1-4, including a statement win over the San Francisco 49ers in primetime. Despite losing their top weapon in Justin Jefferson back in week five, the Vikings have maintained a strong passing attack.
All 16 of their touchdowns this season have come through the air. Zero rushing touchdowns have been scored by the Vikings. Against the 30th ranked rush defense the Packers boast, that could change.
Despite a lengthy injury list at the end of last week’s game, the Packers are the healthiest they’ve been this week. Jaire Alexander, De’Vondre Campbell, Luke Musgrave, and Devonte Wyatt are all active.
The Packers are struggling, and time is running out to turn the season around. A win against a division opponent would go a long way to getting things back on track. Can the Packers win a tough matchup at home?
The first half offensive struggles continued for the Packers. A combination of penalties, missed blocks, and drops by the playmakers forced the offense to go three-and-out on each of their first four drives.
The defense bent quite a bit in the first half. They allowed the Vikings to drive into Packers territory on their first three drives. After a missed 42-yard Greg Joseph field goal on the first drive, the defense allowed two scores on their next two drives.
The first was a six-yard scamper by former Rams RB Cam Akers for the Vikings first rushing touchdown of the season. The second, a 25-yard field goal, putting the Vikings up 10-0.
On their final drive of the first half, the Vikings punted, pinning the Packers struggling offense deep in their own territory. With just under five minutes to go in the half, the Packers needed to go into the half on a high note.
The offense started to click a little, as Jordan Love dink-and-dunked down the field, marching into Vikings territory. Love led the offense to the Vikings’ 17-yard line, setting up a 35-yard field goal attempt for Anders Carlson. Carlson’s kick hit the right upright and bounced away, keeping the Packers off the scoreboard.
That attempt would not stand, as Minnesota safety Jay Ward came across early, giving the Packers five extra yards, and allowing Carlson to reattempt the field goal. This time, Carlson drilled the 30-yard field goal, putting the Packers on the board, going into the half 10-3.
In recent games, the Packers came out of the half on fire to claw out of the first-half hole. In this game, the Vikings came out with their foot on the gas.
Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense took the opening drive down the field and scored their second touchdown of the game on a TJ Hockenson two-yard catch. On the ensuing drive, Love launched a deep ball to Jayden Reed, who nearly made the catch, but got out-muscled by Vikings safety Josh Metellus, who ripped the ball away for the interception.
The very next play, Cousins found rookie WR Jordan Addison for a 20-yard touchdown, with Jaire in coverage. The Packers now found themselves down 24-3 halfway through the third quarter.
The Packers offense recovered from the interception. Love led the offense down the field, and a defensive pass interference helped set them up with a first and goal at the Vikings one-yard line. It took them four plays, but Love was finally able to find Romeo Doubs for their first touchdown of the game.
Now a two-score game at 24-10, the Vikings went to work again, driving back into Packer territory. With second-and-10 in the Packers redzone, the defense held. A Preston Smith sack on second down and a Kenny Clark sack on third down forced a 44-yard field goal attempt.
On the attempt, rookie sixth round pick Karl Brooks reached his hand up and blocked the kick. Safety Jonathan Owens recovered and returned it to mid field, giving the Packers offense excellent field position with 10 minutes to play.
Love once again drove the Packers down the field, this time making it to Minnesota’s 10-yard line, but was unable to find the endzone. Three straight incompletions on second, third, and fourth down, and the offense turned the ball over on downs, wasting a perfect opportunity to make it a one-score game.
All hope was not yet lost though. Cousins, after the Clark sack, left the game with an ankle injury, leaving backup QB Jarren Hall to command the offense. The Packers defense took advantage of this, as Preston Smith strip-sacked him on third down, and a Devonte Wyatt recovery set the Packers up at the 15 yard-line.
Once again, the offense couldn’t find the endzone, turning the ball over on downs for the second straight drive despite a valiant scramble attempt by Love. The defense forced another punt on the next series, but once again the offense couldn’t do much with the football, turning the ball over on downs for the third straight drive.
The Vikings ran out the clock on the ensuing drive, closing the book on this game. A 24-10 dominant win for the Vikings, and yet another frustrating loss for the Packers.
Players of the Game
- Preston Smith: Preston Smith makes his second appearance on this list this season. Smith was one of the bright spots on the defense. Against the Vikings, Smith racked up five tackles, two sacks, one tackle for loss, one pass breakup, four QB hits, and one forced fumble. Smith did his part in helping the team attempt a comeback, and it is a shame a performance like this was wasted.
- Daniel Whelan: For those keeping score at home, this is now the second time the Packers’ punter has made this list. Do with that information what you will. Whelan only had four punts, all of them coming in the first half, but he did an excellent job on those punts. Welan averaged 51.8 yards on his four punts, with a long of 59 yards. Whelan booted those punts, and helped to pin the Vikings deep every chance he got.
- Yosh Njiman suffered a foot injury and was questionable to return.
The Packers suffer their fourth-straight loss to fall to 2-5 on the season. Each loss seems to be more embarrassing than the last.
It is time we question the coaching of this young team. For most of the game, the Packers had more penalty yards than total yards of offense. They ended the game with 11 penalties for 99 yards. The team is young, but the discipline is atrocious and needs to be addressed and it all starts with the coaches.
The offensive line continues to be a problem. Center Josh Myers, left tackle Rasheed Walker, and right guard Jon Runyan continue to play poorly, whiffing on crucial blocks and almost single handedly stalling the offense in the first half. Yosh Njiman eventually replaced Walker later in the game and played better, but it was too little too late.
Why Njiman, who is clearly a better left tackle than Walker, has not been given the start yet is confusing. Additionally, the Packers may need to look at getting a top-tier center or guard in the upcoming draft if Myers and Runyan continue to struggle.
Love was given very little help from his young playmakers today. There were far too many drops from every playmaker in this game. Love cannot be expected to succeed if his weapons can’t catch the ball.
The Packers stay at home to face the equally struggling Los Angeles Rams. The Rams are coming off of a 43-20 beat down by the Dallas Cowboys, a game in which their starting QB got injured.