Sunday, November 22, 2015

Notebook: Vikings make costly mistakes, lose to Green Bay, 30-13

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The energy was high as the Vikings battled with the Packers at TCF Bank Stadium for first place in the NFC North. Penalties were costly as the Vikings dropped the contest, 30-13.
Updated: November 22nd, 2015 9:04pm

By: Daniel House

The energy was high as the Vikings battled with the Packers at TCF Bank Stadium for first place in the NFC North. After an early field goal by Green Bay, it didn't take long for Teddy Bridgewater to find tight end Kyle Rudolph for a 47-yard touchdown. He perfectly broke off his route and the ball was placed where only Rudolph could catch it. Rudolph accumulated the first 100-yard performance in his career and was one of the lone bright spots from today's game. However, the Vikings offense failed to find any rhythm and Green Bay added two more field goals. Throughout the game, the Minnesota offense picked up some penalties that backed up drives. The Packers took a 9-6 lead and would add an 80-yard touchdown drive before halftime to extend it to 17-6. Several key penalties and mistakes were made on that drive and Green Bay capitalized. The Packers added a field goal out of halftime, but Minnesota answered with a 63-yard touchdown drive that was capped by am Adrian Peterson 6-yard touchdown run. However, Green Bay would answer with a 80-yard touchdown drive and a two point conversion. Minnesota tried to answer on the next drive, but Adrian Peterson fumbled deep in Packers territory. There wasn't much the Vikings could do at this point and Green Bay would close the game out with a 30-13 win. Green Bay had an excellent game plan, won the battle at the line of scrimmage, and capitalized on the Vikings' plethora of penalties. Minnesota didn't play their best and will need to quickly bounce back as they travel to Atlanta next week.

Penalties kill Minnesota
Entering the game, the Vikings committed just 57 penalties, which was the lowest mark of any team in the league. However, today was a totally different story. Minnesota committed eight penalties for 110 yards. Green Bay continually was awarded with way too many opportunities. During the Packers final drive of the half, they an illegal contact penalty and a roughing the passer call that kept the drive alive. Both of those proved to be critical. Rodgers would find Randall Cobb for a 10-yard touchdown and the Packers went into the half with a 16-6 lead. You simply cannot give a team like Green Bay multiple opportunities to score. Aaron Rodgers will eat you alive. Not to mention, the offense had several holding calls that really backed drives up. The Vikings offense isn't built to be placed in long down situations. It resulted in less runs from Adrian Peterson too. However, it was somewhat perplexing that Peterson had just 13 carries in this game. Peterson even alluded to that in his post game presser. It seemed like everyone with the Vikings was out of sorts and it was extremely uncharacteristic. Green Bay executed their game plan well and Minnesota played very poorly. Those two statements don't mesh well together.

Green Bay wins the line of scrimmage
The Packers had six sacks and continually pressured Teddy Bridgewater. A few of those plays were because he held the ball too long. Nonetheless, the pressure was still far worse than any performance we have seen in a long time. Bridgewater got hit frequently, while having minimal time to make any throws in the pocket. Teddy still managed to complete 25 of his 37 passes for 296 yards and a touchdown. He added 43 yards on the ground and made some great plays with his legs. The Packers rushed the Vikings' offensive line very well and made the pocket uncomfortable. That was one of the biggest differences in this game. Green Bay dictated the tempo and were by far the more physical team. They schemed very well and it paid off. The Minnesota offensive line needs to figure this out though before Bridgewater is seriously hurt -- he took far too many shots today.

Rodgers has too much time to extend plays
It's a story everyone should be familiar with by now. When Aaron Rodgers has time to extend plays, he is ridiculous. Today, he proved this again. The Vikings allowed far too much time for Rodgers to find his receivers up the field. Rodgers snuck out of the pocket to made the tough throws on third down. Minnesota only sacked him twice and the Packers offensive line kept Rodgers upright. When that happens, Green Bay is a totally different team. Rodgers threw several critical passes to James Jones and Randall Cobb that extended drives and gave their offense momentum. A 37-yard strike to James Jones up the sideline helped the Packers extend their lead while milking the clock late in the game. Terence Newman picked up a critical pass interference penalty in the first half and Rhodes was beaten on the throw to Jones. The defense gave up too many big plays through the air and on the ground. However, a massive strain was placed upon them as the offense was ineffective.

Eddie Lacy runs well
A couple weeks ago, the city of Green Bay was ready to send Eddie Lacy a Nutri-System diet in the mail. Today, the times changed. Lacy ran for 100 yards on 22 carries, averaging over 4.5 yards per carry. He was picking up yards after contact and the Vikings couldn't wrap him up. This allowed Green Bay to sustain drives, while mixing in some deadly big plays through the air. Minnesota has notoriously struggled to handle Lacy on the ground. You have to wrap him up or you'll never stop his attack. They established the running game and that eventually wore the Vikings defense down. The last few weeks, the run defense has been better, but today it took about ten steps backward.

Rudolph has a great game
Kyle Rudolph might have played his best game as a Minnesota Viking. He hauled in several difficult catches and added a 47-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. Rudolph snatched six catches for 106 yards. Today was his first performance he corralled over 100 yards. His ability to make the contested play was fantastic. Bridgewater perfectly placed some throws to him and he made the plays look easy. This is the type of performance that is expected from Rudolph. He used his frame to make some plays that were critical. Conversely, Mike Wallace had a bad drop near the first down chains and couldn't hall in a vertical fade from Bridgewater late in the game. He has two catches in the last four games and has been very underwhelming. The Vikings continue to lack an identity in the vertical passing game and they struggle to make big plays because of it.

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