Upon Further Review: Not much urgency in Vikings’ 43-34 loss to Packersby Tom Dierberger
It was a quiet afternoon for the Minnesota Vikings.
The empty purple seats at U.S. Bank Stadium provided the optics of a high school nine-man football semifinal game rather than a Minnesota-Green Bay border battle. There was no skol chant before the fourth quarter to fire up the non-existent fans, and the Viking World Order, the group of die-hard fans typically seen behind the end zone, were replaced with cardboard cutouts. The stadium renowned for making life miserable for visiting quarterbacks was hushed.
At least one team brought the noise.
Aaron Rodgers, yes, he who was written off after Green Bay selected Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 draft, dominated the Vikings’ inexperienced secondary all afternoon. He threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns, handing Minnesota a 43-34 defeat — its third straight loss to the Packers.
Green Bay’s offense set the tone of the game from the very beginning, opening the 2020 campaign with a long, 13-play scoring drive, and really never left the field. At halftime, the Packers had held possession for 23 minutes over the opening two quarters, compared to Minnesota’s seven minutes. The Vikings offense had run 17 plays. Kirk Cousins was 3-for-5 for 54 yards and an interception. Minnesota had 97 net yards compared to Green Bay’s 271.
While the Packers dinked and dunked their way down the field in the first half, they opened it up in the second. The Vikings had no answer for wide receiver Davante Adams, as he and Rodgers connected for 14 receptions for 156 yards, eight first downs, two touchdowns and a 144.1 passer rating on 17 targets.
It was the first time Green Bay scored 40+ points against the Vikings since 2014, the first year of head coach Mike Zimmer’s reign in Minnesota. In the previous six meetings at U.S. Bank Stadium, Zimmer’s defense held Rodgers and the Packers to an average of 19.7 points per contest.
Even when Minnesota poured on 24 points in the fourth quarter, the game was never in doubt. The Vikings’ defense, which struggled to apply pressure on Rodgers, couldn’t come up with a timely stop as Green Bay’s offense cruised to 522 total yards.
There will be plenty of questions to be answered on both sides of the ball.
But first, here’s a recap of Sunday’s game (Story | Photos):
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Adams Thielen caught two passes on the Vikings’ first two plays from scrimmage — one for seven yards and another for 25. He wasn’t heard from again until the fourth quarter. In garbage time, Thielen hauled in four receptions — two in the end zone — to raise his production to six catches for 110 yards and two scores in the game, a stat line that looks good on fantasy football sites. But Thielen can’t be pleased with the offensive game plan.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME
Hours after signing a five-year extension that will keep him in Minnesota through the 2025 campaign, running back Dalvin Cook found the end zone four different times Sunday – two touchdowns and a pair of two-point conversions to go along with 50 rushing yards on 12 attempts.
Leading 7-3 late in the first quarter, the Vikings defense prevented Green Bay from scoring four times from within the 3-yard line and took over on downs. It was a massive goal-line stand. A tired defense needed Cousins to put together a lengthy drive to continue the momentum for the home team. Instead, the offense flopped. Pat Elflein was called for a false start. Dalvin Cook rushed for three yards. And on second-and-7 from Minnesota’s 4-yard line, Cook missed cornerback Jaire Alexander blitzing off the edge, and the former Packers first-round pick sacked Cousins in the end zone for a safety. On the ensuing possession, Green Bay captured an 8-7 advantage on a 43-yard field goal by Mason Crosby. Minnesota never saw a lead again.
2 – The number of times Rodgers was hit on Sunday. Just twice. And neither of those hits was for a sack. We knew the pass rush wouldn’t be the same without the injured Danielle Hunter making Rodgers sweat in the pocket, but … wow. Out of the 28 quarterbacks who played entering Monday night in Week 1, only Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr was hit less than Rodgers. Yes, the Vikings’ young cornerbacks were exposed. But Rodgers having all day to throw certainly didn’t help the cause.
THEY SAID IT
“There’s a lot of football left to be played, but we gotta get better quick.” – head coach Mike Zimmer
“It’s not what we’re about here. We’ve gotta do everything we can to move on from this and improve drastically from 43 [points].” – safety Harrison Smith
“It does make it tough. When you don’t run a lot of plays, you don’t have a lot of opportunities to make something happen.” – quarterback Kirk Cousins
The Vikings will hit the road for the first time next week as they pay a visit to Philip Rivers and the Indianapolis Colts. Rivers threw for 363 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the Colts’ 27-20 loss to Jacksonville on Sunday.