Well, this one cannot be blamed on the weather.
Hosting a hapless Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on a day that kicking a field goal was not an option, the Green Bay Packers put up an absolute gross performance in a game that should have been a relatively easy win, falling 28-22.
While the offense came out of the gates strong, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions, they fell flat in the rest of the game, only putting up a score in the fourth quarter when they were already down 14.
The weather was certainly a hindrance for both sides, as the powerful wind gusts eliminated any sort of field goal ideas and field-position swapping with punts and kickoffs. With Mason Crosby a big question mark this week, he was active for the game but did not make much of an impact outside of two extra points.
This loss could be the difference between earning that first-round bye or not in the postseason, an element that could make or break this team in the playoffs. DC Mike Pettine showed yet again that while there are obviously some injuries and personnel improvements that the defense has faced, his leash surely keeps getting shorter and shorter.
The Vikings won the toss and kicked off, and in turn, Aaron Rodgers and the offense methodically drove down the field and struck first, continuing their streak as the lone NFL team to have scored a TD on every opening drive this year.
Rodgers connected with Davante Adams for his first score of the day, torching the MIN secondary for the first points of the day. With no Aaron Jones yet again, Jamaal Williams took the starting duty this week again, and he earned a lion share of touches on the first drive.
In return, the Vikings tied the score at seven-all on Dalvin Cook’s first score of the day, as the MIN offense ran the ball down GB’s throat in a game best suited for a run-first team. His 21-yard rumble came off the right side of the O-Line, bouncing through defenders on his way to pay dirt, and he looked good for his first game back after missing time with a groin injury.
Continuing with the ongoing trend, this quarter also saw only a few drives, as there were three total, two of which resulted in touchdowns.
First, GB got the ball back after Cook’s TD run and went down the field again, doing whatever they want against the below-average Vikings defense. On the back of Williams earning basically all backfield touches, Adams caught his second TD of the game on a little one-yard motion out route that put GB ahead for the final time.
Minnesota received the ensuing kickoff and force-fed Cook to the GB defense yet again, resulting in Cook’s second TD run of the day, this time from one-yard out. The run-heavy attack, while obviously not a surprise, had everything pretty much go its way in this game, testament to the lack of planning down by Pettine.
Green Bay ran one play after the Cook TD and ran out the remainder of the clock of the first half.
Coming out of the half, Minnesota started with the ball and continued their rushing attack, gashing the GB defense and getting Cook his third rushing score of the day and the second one from just one yard out.
This drive was helped out by multiple defensive pass interference penalties, as both Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson were guilty of these infractions. The passing game was obviously not much of a factor for Minnesota in this game due to the weather, but their ability to run all over GB made the decision quite easy to almost completely the passing attack.
Green Bay finally hit its offensive wall on this drive, as a costly Marcedes Lewis holding penalty helped make this drive go nowhere, resulting in a failed fourth-down conversion. With GB facing a 4th & 10 from the MIN 37 and with kicking a field goal was not realistic for many reasons, going for it was the best bet, even as it was unsuccessful.
After the failed conversion, the Vikings scored yet again with Cook, as he took a screen pass and rumbled 50 yards for a score, weaving from the left flat to the middle of the field and outrunning everyone.
Green Bay was in it deep, needing to put points on the board, and they were unable to, as they punted the ball away after getting into an insurmountable 3rd & 28 situation.
The Vikings were finally stopped on offense and punted it back to Green Bay, which they were not able to take advantage of, as they punted it back after roughly a three-minute drive.
Minnesota was forced into a three-and-out on their next drive, and Green Bay was finally able to put more points on the board, as Adams hauled in a seven-yard pass for his third TD of the day. A successful two-point conversion on a rush by Williams (after a review that overturned an unsuccessful ruling) brought the score to 28-22, where it held for the remainder of the game.
Green Bay was able to get the ball back after forcing a Minnesota punt, but with having no timeouts left and less than one minute on the clock, they were unable to do anything with it, with the game ending on a Rodgers fumble as he was loading up to throw another infamous Hail Mary.
Green Bay has a short week this week, as they now travel to Santa Clara to face the struggling San Francisco 49ers, who are facing a ton of injuries that have depleted them and put them at the bottom of the NFC West looking up.
This short week could compound what was a deflating loss and could spell trouble for their stronghold on the top of the NFC North rankings. Looking to be a two-horse race with the Chicago Bears, Green Bay will need to exercise their NFC Championship Game demons on Thursday if they want to keep pace at or near the top of the NFC race.
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23