Fit To Be Tied.Posted:Sep 17th, 2018 1:04 pm
I'm not sure where to start. You come away from the game feeling like the Pack dodged a bullet, courtesy of the ineptitude of the Vikes' rookie kicker. But you also feel like Green Bay gave away an opportunity for a big home win, in a game that they controlled all afternoon.
Beginning with the Geronimo Allison blocked punt that culminated in a Josh Jackson touchdown, the Pack had this one in control. Clearly Rodgers was operating at about 70%, but the line was doing a solid job keeping the ferocious Vikings defense away, for the most part.
Fans were left complaining about a barrel full of officials' calls, but I'm going to leave that alone. There were terrible calls that affected both sides. I decided long ago not to engage with the Twittersphere during Packer-Viking games. It served me well on Sunday. The truth is, bad calls aside, the Packers gave the Vikes a chance to get back in the game with their preposterous play calling down the stretch.
McCarthy's decision to pass twice in the red zone with Green Bay clinging to a five point lead and Minnesota holding two precious timeouts was mind-numbing. From his perspective, a touchdown there puts the game away. But the offense was not operating at peak efficiency all afternoon and at that point Rodgers had to be hurting. By forcing Minnesota to use their timeouts, it would have changed everything on their game-tying drive.
The Pack had struggled in the red zone all day, getting just one touchdown in five opportunities. Give the Vikings defense partial credit and understand that Rodgers' lack of mobility was partially the cause as well. In my mind, McCarthy should have played it safe there and run the ball, force Minnesota to use its timeouts and then turn it over to the defense to try to make one more stop.
Which leads us to Kirk Cousins. I've been vocal for months that I thought they made a mistake by paying him all that money when they had a similar QB in Case Keenum. Cousins was terrific on Sunday, extending plays, making good reads and keeping the Pack's pass rush at bay. He was aided by the fact that Davon House was called in to replace Kevin King in the fourth quarter--House couldn't stay with Stefan Diggs and the 75 yard touchdown was the play of the day. King's inability to stay on the field early in his career is becoming a talking point--and one the defense really can't afford.
The Pack's defense is a work in progress. There is much to be encouraged about, but there will be growing pains against top offenses. Let's hope this is the last 400 yard passing day they surrender. The run defense was solid, so that's encouraging.
These teams will look strikingly different in the rematch on Thanksgiving weekend. The Vikes will have a different kicker and, one would assume, a healthier offensive line. The Pack hope to have Rodgers and Adams operating at 100%, running back Aaron Jones in the fold and a defense that is much more comfortable running Mike Pettine's system. It should be a great battle to watch as these two teams wrestle for the North crown.
Let's just hope both fan bases don't bemoan the officiating next time--and that we're talking about the success or failure of our teams' play on the field. That's what makes us love this game.