By Joseph Gunther
One week after getting blown out against a division-rival on the road, the Minnesota Vikings did everything they could to win and lose to the Green Bay Packers Sunday at Lambeau Field.
It did not matter that Adrian Peterson ran for 210 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, including an 82-yard touchdown run near the end of the first half, because quarterback Christian Ponder threw two interceptions in the red zone to negate scoring opportunities.
Both interceptions were poor decisions throwing into the middle of field where safety Morgan Burnett was waiting for the turnover.
The last three drives for each decided the game for the Packers. The Vikings suffered an interception in the end zone and then followed it up with a missed field goal before watching the clock run out during its final drive. The Packers, on the other hand, turned a one-point deficit into a nine-point victory with a touchdown and field goal before punting in the final minute.
The Vikings did nothing to stop the Packers when it needed to. The Vikings failed to make adjustments to what the Packers were doing.
Paul Charchian went on a rant during the postgame show on Fox 9 that several members of the coaching staff should be fired, even though they are in their first or second year with the team.
However, it does not matter what the game plan is if the players are not going to execute. If not for the two ill-advised interceptions, the score would have been a lot different.
Peterson: 220 total yards (210 rushing, 10 receiving). The rest of the offense: 139 total yards (30 rushing, 109 receiving).
It was all about Peterson. The Vikings offense needs to run through him, but the passing game needs to do something. One player cannot do all the work.
The passing game was so bad that the Vikings nearly did something that had not been done in nearly 10 years. With two minutes and 48 seconds remaining in the game, it avoided becoming the first team since the Houston Texans on December 8, 2002 to complete a game without completing a pass to a wide receiver. Ponder got the ball to Jerome Simpson to end the wide receivers’ drought. Simpson and Jarius Wright were the only wide receivers to record any catches (three in total). The rest of the wide receivers missed five targets.
The offensive line was very good opening holes for Peterson and keeping Ponder upright. The second-year quarterback was not sacked and was hit just once.
If not for Ponder’s inept passing, even the passes completed were for the most part off target, the Vikings would have most likely won. Even if he would have still thrown the interceptions, the grade would be higher. The three critical mistakes (two interceptions and a missed field goal) left between nine and 17 points on the field.
The Vikings’ defense was hard to figure out. First off it forced six offensive holding and a false start penalty while getting two sacks and an interception. However, it allowed the Packers to gain 435 yards (152 rushing) and convert on 9-of-16 third down opportunities (including 3-of-6 on third-and-seven or more).
Even the unit’s best player performed with mixed results. Chad Greenway recorded 16 tackles, but was lost in coverage. A.J. Jefferson made six tackles and defended one pass, but was constantly picked on by Aaron Rodgers.
Marcus Sherels filled in for Percy Harvin well as a kick returner with a 26.5 yard average in two returns. Chris Kluwe averaged 47 yards per punt and had one downed in the 20-yard line. The coverage units did a good job of limiting Randall Cobb to just 3.7 yards punt return average and 22.7 yard kick return average.
Blair Walsh missed a late field goal (just his third miss of the season) that could have cut the deficit to one score with just over two minutes remaining.
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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. His work can be found on Examiner.com.