Updated: October 15, 2017, 4:45 p.m.
By: Daniel House
By: Daniel House
The Vikings’ defense played fast and physical Sunday afternoon to knock off the Green Bay Packers, 23-10 at U.S. Bank Stadium. On the second drive of the game, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers exited with a broken collarbone after a physical hit by linebacker Anthony Barr.
Everyone witnessed the value of Rodgers as the Green Bay offense struggled to move the ball on offense.
Backup quarterback Brent Hundley was sacked four times and threw three interceptions. On his first drive, defensive back Mackensie Alexander deflected an out route to Xavier Rhodes, who hauled in an interception. The Vikings took advantage and scored a 27-yard touchdown off a beautifully executed screen pass. Green Bay sent pressure and Jerick McKinnon used his blockers to weave his way into the end zone. The score was fueled by an excellent downfield block by wide receiver Michael Floyd. McKinnon had a pair of touchdowns, including a 3-yard run during an 8-play, 84-yard scoring drive.
The Packers used a short field to improve their scoring chances. A Jerick McKinnon fumble led to a long return and a short 14-yard touchdown reception by Davante Adams. Later in the second quarter, Case Keenum threw an interception, but the Vikings were able to hold Green Bay to a field goal after a Ty Montgomery touchdown grab was overturned. The Packers’ offense had limited success without the help of turnovers. They accumulated just 227 total yards, many of which came on a drive late in the game. The Vikings kept the Green Bay running game in check, holding them to 72 yards on 24 carries. Minnesota’s interior dominated the line of scrimmage and linebackers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr had plenty of success getting downhill. Barr left the game with a concussion, but brought pressure off the edge, forcing two throwaways. His fast and physical play has been noticeable over the last two games. His presence has made a huge difference in Minnesota’s defense.
The MVP of the defense was safety Harrison Smith. He continues to be the centerpiece of the Vikings defense and showed his value Sunday. His diving interception was one of the more impressive interceptions fans will see this season. Smith added five tackles, 1.5 sacks, and an interception. Mike Zimmer sent Smith on safety blitzes and two of them caused havoc on inexperienced quarterback Brent Hundley. Over the last two weeks, he has made game changing plays and is showing why he is the most valuable piece in the defense.
There were moments where the Vikings offense performed well, but quarterback Case Keenum left a few throws on the field, including a third down look to wide receiver Jarius Wright. However, he beautifully placed a corner route to Adam Thielen, fitting the pass into a tight window. Keenum was less consistent in this game, but he did enough for the team to win. He finished the afternoon 24-for-38 with 239 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
The Vikings' offense managed to muster two field goal drives that wiped a significant amount of time off the clock. The offensive line allowed some pressure throughout the game, but Keenum bought time to compensate for it. Tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers both had positive reps on toss plays to open up rushing lanes. The offensive tackle acquisitions have been executing their strengths, while performing average in pass protection. This was exactly what Minnesota hoped for when they made the signings. So far it has paid off and center Pat Elflein has executed better than most rookie centers that are thrust into this role.
At wide receiver, Laquon Treadwell made a highlight reel one-handed catch with a defensive back draped all over him. Treadwell had three catches for 51 yards, including a 25-yard reception. He ran routes to get open and won at the catch point to make an acrobatic grab. The Vikings haven’t involved Treadwell much in their offense, but he managed to contribute against a depleted Green Bay secondary. Perhaps he’ll continue to see work if Stefon Diggs misses more time.
Minnesota created three takeaways and kept the Packers’ running game in check after Aaron Rodgers left the game. Rodgers will likely miss the entire season, which certainly opens the door for teams in the NFC North to grab the reigns. There are areas the Vikings must improve on offense, but their defense will keep them in plenty of games down the stretch.