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