Legendary senior writer, Packers lead blogger & NFC featured columnist jclombardi’s insider final reviews & grades.
SUMMARY: Packers veteran backup QB Flynn led a second-half comeback throwing for 218 yards as the Packers rallied to tie the Vikings 26 to 26. RB Lacy got 158 total yards including 110 rushing yards. .
GAME BALLS: QB Flynn. RB Lacy. OLB Matthews. P Masthay.
INJURY REPORT: DL Wilson (ankle). RB Franklin (concussion). TE Bostick (concussion).
PASSING OFFENSE: B vs C vs B-. While he led a 1st quarter touchdown score, 3rd string former Wisconsin QB Tolzien was ineffective and inaccurate missing or underthrowing open receivers. Before being replaced by veteran backup QB Flynn, Tolzien completed only 7 of 17 passes for 98 yards & 1 touchdown.
Coming into the game in the 2nd series of the 2nd half, QB Flynn rallied the Packers from a 23-7 deficit in the 4th quarter. He led two touchdown drives ending with the big 12 plays & 76 yards drive with 6 yards scoring pass to WR Boykin cutting the Vikings lead to 23-20. Then, he led a 10 plays & 60 yards drive for the game tying field goal in the final seconds of regulation. For the game, Flynn completed 21 of 38 passes for 218 yards & 1 touchdown scoring 19 points in seven series. Clutch WR Jones had 7 catches for 80 yards. WR Boykin had 5 catches for 60 yards. WR Nelson had 4 catches for 58 yards. RB Lacy had 6 catches for 48 yards.
GRADING OFFENSIVE LINE (two sacks): LT Dakhtiari was awful (3 pressures & 3 bad runs), Center Dietrich-Smith was okay, RG Sitton was okay (3 pressures), RG Lang was okay (3 ½ pressures), and RT Newhouse was marginal (6 pressures). While the line did well in the running game (excluding Dakhtiari), the center & guards did not handle the delayed blitzing well allowing Vikings LB Cole to have 4 ½ pressures.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A vs A vs A-. Although they faced a stacked Vikings defensive box, the Packers got a phenomenal 196 rushing yards. Rookie sensation RB Lacy had 25 carries for 110 yards & touchdown. RB Starks had 3 carries for 37 yards. QB Tolzien had 2 runs for 25 yards & touchdown. QB Flynn had 4 runs for 24 yards.
During recent weeks to stop Lacy, defenses stack the box bringing safeties down, bringing corners in, and bring personnel off the slot, but he just kept breaking tacklers. It is a pleasure watching him play. Fans can read BM’s narrative about great rookie Lacy::
The Vikings kept bringing down a safety and Lacy kept gaining yards. On his 3-yard TD, he dragged Allen the final 2 yards. One or two backs? Zone or power scheme? It doesn't seem to matter. When Lang pulled left, Lacy followed his track perfectly and picked up 17 yards. He kind of hops or skips into the line on inside zones. In the clear, he invariably puts the spin move on the unblocked safety. On 4th and 1, Lacy ran into Sitton's back side 2 yards behind the line. It's a wonder how he advanced the ball 6 more yards after that. Also, he showed better feel as a check-down & flat receiving option
PASSING DEFENSE: C vs C- vs C. The Packers gave up 447 net total yards & 215 net passing yards in a mixed secondary performance. Vikings QB Ponder was efficient & productive completing 21 of 30 passes for 233 yards, touchdown, no interception & solid 103.9 passer rating. Vikings WR Patterson had 8 catches for 54 yards, WR Simpson had 2 catches for 54 yards, TE Carlson had 3 catches for 36 yards, WR Jennings had 2 catches for 29 yards & FB Ellison had 2 catches for 26 yards & touchdown. Cornerbacks Williams, Bush & House played good games. Packers got six sacks: Jones, Hawk (and forced fumble), Matthews (2), Daniels, and Neal.
RUSHING DEFENSE: F vs D- vs D. The Packers allowed a whopping 232 rushing yards. Vikings running backs Peterson got 32 carries for 146 yards (4.6 ypc) & Gerhart got 8 carries for 91 yards (11.4 ypc) through gaping holes in the Packers defense. BM described the rushing defense’s problem:
The essence of defensive line play in the 3-4 defense is not only occupying blockers in the run game but also getting off those blocks. Raji and Pickett simply have to do more than they are. On the inside, Hawk and B. Jones weren't good enough. Jones doesn't show great instincts, toughness or speed. Both need to be protected to succeed in the run game, and their coverage ability is no better than adequate. The defense missed a stunning 16 tackles.
Both [DLs Daniels & Worthy] got manhandled in the running game. One of the basic tenets of defense is that if the linemen are getting driven back, it’s tougher for linebackers to scrape and fill gaps. They have to step over linemen to get there. It was like A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones were wearing Velcro. They couldn’t get off blocks, they were slow to react, they missed tackles and they spent too much time on the ground.The other problem was on the edge where Adrian Peterson was finding cutback lanes inside Mike Neal and Andy Mulumba. Neal is powerful and can get to a spot.But too often on plays away from him or on slow-developing plays, Neal gets caught too far up field and that’s where runners are looking to cut back.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C vs C- vs C+. Kicker Crosby made two field goals (27, 20), but he struggled kicking off. His 3 kickoffs averaged 67.3 and 3.71, but he hooked one squibber out of bounds and his pooched one got returned to the 30. Masthay averaged 40.8 yards (gross & net) with 4.28 seconds (hang time) placing 3 punts inside the 20. While the Packers punt coverage unit was excellent, Vikings KR Patterson had a big 57 yards kickoff return. Packers KR/PR Hyde averaged only 20.5 yards on 2 kickoffs and only 2.7 yards on 3 punt returns.
COACHING: F vs C vs ?. For the 4th straight game, Head Coach McCarthy & Defensive Coordinator Capers failed to deliver solid game plans and game management to win a game. Further, for a 4th straight game, McCarthy got outcoached, outmuscled & outplayed by the inspired not-so-physical pathetic Vikings. SE summed up this miserable coaching grade:
McCarthy stood by his decision to try a two-point conversion that resulted in an intercepted pass thrown by Flynn that kept the Packers down 23-13 with more than 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation. However, McCarthy seemingly erred by not trying to run Lacy straight ahead at least one more time, if not twice, after going with him on runs the first two downs in the goal-to-go situation near the goal line in the opening possession of the overtime. Instead, McCarthy had Flynn throw an out pass to Nelson in the end zone that was off the mark on third down from the 2 resulting in the decision to take the easy 3 points with the field goal. It turned out to be another mostly forgettable week for Capers' defense and Slocum's special-teams units.
OVERALL: D vs ? vs C. Playing at Lambeau, we are not surprised at the embarrassing tie against the ViQueens. Waiting until it was almost too late, HC McCarthy brought in veteran QB Flynn to lead to the comeback for the tie. Yet, his questionable play calling in overtime led to a simple field goal, while the defense failed to hold the Vikings in the next series who got a field goal resulting in the final tie.
COMMENTARY: Meanwhile, the fluff sports press focused upon whether QB Rodgers will play at the Thanksgiving Lions game. On Monday, HC McCarthy said his chances were slim and none, although he was practicing Tuesday. The bigger joke was watching the fluff Packers sports press with their headlines debating Tolzien vs Flynn, e.g., “Packers QB quandary: Tolzien or Flynn?” Seriously, they get paid good money to write such garbage/carp?
PREDICTION: Tuesday, QB Flynn took the starter reps. That’s where we are,” McCarthy said. Asked if Rodgers’ chances of playing are “slim to none,” McCarthy answered, “Closer to none.” QB Flynn will start and can win it with the offense. Yet, the defense is simply abysmal with McCarthy being right stating the problem is execution not scheme. Thursday, they have a big NFC North Division road game against an inspired Lions team. Thanksgiving Day, prime time national television, playing for 1st place! We shall see.