By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings started with a bang, but failed to keep the momentum and were blown out by the Green Bay Packers 44-31 Sunday at Mall of America Field.
Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff 109 yards for a touchdown. The Packers (5-2) owned the game from there.
Aaron Rodgers, with a depleted receiver corps, picked the Vikings defense apart all game long. He threw just five incomplete passes and posted a 130.6 quarterback rating.
The Vikings (1-6) still cannot get into a rhythm both on offense and defense. They only trailed by a touchdown at half, but gave up 17 straight points and failed to get back into the game.
The Vikings offense did some good things, but it could not sustain drives. The unit never got into a rhythm, but it is hard to do so when they are on the sideline for more than two-thirds of the game.
Adrian Peterson made some good runs, including a touchdown. Cordarrelle Patterson showed flashes of big play potential on offense. Toby Gerhart made the most of his only carry of the game with a 13-yard touchdown.
The Vikings have made some plays on offense all year, Sunday was no different. The Vikings have scored at least 24 points in five of the seven games this season.
The Vikings defense cannot get off the field, they cannot cover anyone, and they cannot tackle.
The Packers rolled up 464 total yards with relative ease. The Vikings stopped the Packers on just five third down opportunities, but two of those came with the game well in hand. The Packers also turned two of those third down stops into fourth down conversions.
Minnesota continues to make the same mistakes they make over and over again. Defensive coordinator Alan Williams may not have much to work with, but why does he call man coverage plays when they do not work? The Vikings secondary cannot stay with receivers and yet we see the same thing on third down. A blitz and an open receiver.
The inability to get off the field on third down is a big problem for both sides of the ball.
Christian Ponder is still Christian Ponder. He made a play here; he made a play there. He panicked a play here, panicked a play there. He held the ball too long a play here, held the ball too long a play there.
Ponder is what he is. That is not going to change.
He has the physical tools and cerebral skills, but the most important skill set (mental skills) are lacking. As Cris Collinsworth said during the game, Ponder locks onto a receiver and if that is not immediately open, run.
Patterson had the long return to begin the game. Then he had another long return in the fourth quarter. Blair Walsh was perfect on field goal and extra point kicks. Jeff Locke averaged over 45 yards per punt. The kickoff coverage unit held Johnathan Franklin to just 17 yards per return.
However, the special teams was marred by a 93-yard punt return by Packers defensive back Micah Hyde. Also, a horrendous onside kick attempt fell several yards short the needed 10 yards.
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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. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.