A SEC­OND TAKE

Packer Plus - - News - Zach Kruse

Pros and cons of Sun­day’s stale­mate

The Green Bay Pack­ers and Min­nesota Vik­ings played 70 min­utes of foot­ball Sun­day af­ter­noon at Lam­beau Field but couldn’t de­ter­mine a win­ner, with mis­takes and missed op­por­tu­ni­ties from the Pack­ers and missed field goals from the Vik­ings re­sult­ing in an un­sat­is­fy­ing 29-29 tie be­tween the two NFC North ri­vals.

Here’s a few pros and cons fol­low­ing Sun­day’s game:

Pro: Pack­ers lucky to be un­beaten after two weeks

It’s some­thing of a mi­nor mir­a­cle the Pack­ers have no losses after two tu­mul­tuous, ad­ver­sity-laced weeks. De­spite Aaron Rodgers’ knee in­jury, fall­ing be­hind by 20 points in the opener, melt­ing down l ate Sun­day and the Vik­ings’ chance to win out­right with a short field goal to end over­time, the Pack­ers are still ex­it­ing Week 2 with a 1-0-1 record. A win and a tie after two games sure beats 1-1 or 0-2, two con­ceiv­able records given ev­ery­thing that has tran­spired.

Con: Dis­ap­point­ing not to be 2-0

The gen­eral feel­ing in the home locker room Sun­day was dis­ap­point­ment about a missed op­por­tu­nity. The Pack­ers were one score or one stop away from start­ing the sea­son with a pair of im­pres­sive wins over divi­sion ri­vals. The tie was es­pe­cially dis­ap­point­ing given how the fourth quar­ter fin­ished.

All three phases missed late op­por­tu­ni­ties to se­cure the win. The Pack­ers of­fense failed to punch the ball into the end zone and set­tled for a field goal after Ha Ha Clin­ton-Dix’s in­ter­cep­tion, the de­fense couldn’t re­cover from Clay Matthews’ ques­tion­able rough­ing-the - passer penalty and gave up the ty­ing scores, and vet­eran kicker Mason Crosby missed the game-win­ning field goal from 52 yards out as time ex­pired.

Throw in a missed chance to fin­ish a drive in over­time and win the game, and the Pack­ers felt like they threw away a golden op­por­tu­nity to start 2018 with back-to-back wins.

“It’s nice not to have a loss on the record right now, but it’s dis­ap­point­ing,” Rodgers said. “I’d feel bet­ter if we were 2-0.”

Pro: Pack­ers moved the foot­ball against a top de­fense

On nine of the team’s 12 pos­ses­sions, the of­fense moved the ball into Vik­ings’ ter­ri­tory. They scored on six drives and had a chance, thanks to a light­ningquick 41-yard drive, to win the game in reg­u­la­tion. Rodgers, on one healthy leg, com­pleted 30 passes to eight dif­fer­ent re­ceivers, and the run game pro­duced 98 hard-earned yards. The Pack­ers pos­sessed the foot­ball for over 38 min­utes and didn’t have a turnover against the de­fense ranked first in points and yards al­lowed last sea­son.

Con: Pack­ers strug­gled in red zone

The Pack­ers moved the ball but strug­gled to find ways of get­ting it into the end zone and fin­ish­ing drives. The of­fense was 1-for-5 scor­ing touch­downs in the red zone and had to set­tle for field goal at­tempts on four straight trips inside the 20 to fin­ish the game.

In the third quar­ter, the Pack­ers thought they had a touch­down when Rodgers hit Jimmy Graham for a score on third down from the Vik­ings’ 12-yard line. Lane Tay­lor was pe­nal­ized for hold­ing, how­ever, and t he Pack­ers even­tu­ally set­tled for three.

Two trips to the red zone i n the fourth quar­ter ended the same way.

On the first, the Vik­ings stuffed Ja­maal Wil­liams on 3rd-and-2 from the 12-yard line. Later, Adams couldn’t haul in two at­tempts into the end zone.

“We just didn’t ex­e­cute very well in the red zone,” Rodgers said.

Re­place one of the Pack­ers’ field goal tries with a touch­down and Green Bay is likely go­ing into Week 3 at 2-0.

Con: Pack­ers de­fense strug­gled

Vik­ings quar­ter­back Kirk Cousins threw for 425 yards and four touch­downs, re­ceivers Adam Thie­len and Ste­fon Diggs com­bined for 21 catches, 259 yards and three scores and run­ning back Dalvin Cook pro­duced 90 to­tal yards. The Vik­ings of­fense put up 22 points in the fourth quar­ter and pro­duced two long marches re­sult­ing in field goal tries in over­time. Based on the numbers, it wouldn’t be dif­fi­cult to ar­gue the Pack­ers de­fense strug­gled, es­pe­cially late.

Pro: Con­text mat­ters

Any ex­am­i­na­tion of the Pack­ers de­fense must in­clude the ef­fort dur­ing the first three quar­ters. Go­ing i nto the fourth, the Vik­ings had scored just seven points, punted five times and missed a field goal. Even late, the Pack­ers de­liv­ered the nec­es­sary stops: Clin­ton-Dix picked off Cousins on a tipped pass with just over two min­utes left, and Jaire Alexan­der’s in­ter­cep­tion should have ended the game.

Of Cousins’ 425 yards, 145 came after Matthews’ penalty. The nar­ra­tive on the de­fense is much dif­fer­ent if the flag stays in Tony Cor­rente’s pocket and Alexan­der’s pick counts.

“Yeah, I t hought t hrough­out t he game we were in con­trol,” Pack­ers line­backer Blake Martinez said.

The Pack­ers didn’t al­low any points in the sec­ond and third quar­ters. The Vik­ings ran just eight plays and gained only 18 yards over two drives end­ing in punts dur­ing the third quar­ter.

The fin­ish just wasn’t there. A 71yard scor­ing march and a quick, 75-yard strike from Cousins to Diggs lit the fire, and the Pack­ers couldn’t ex­tin­guish the last re­main­ing em­bers of the Vik­ings’ come­back at­tempt after Matthews’ penalty.

“I would say the main thing we needed to do was fin­ish and ex­e­cute a lit­tle bet­ter,” cor­ner­back Josh Jack­son said.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pack­ers quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers shakes hands with Vik­ings re­ceiver Adam Thie­len after Sun­day’s game.

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