Packers get top grades against the Vikings : Packers Insider

Packers get top grades against the Vikings

November 15, 2011 by  
Filed under News

By Paul Imig, Fox Sports Wisconsin

~The Green Bay Packers (9-0) swept the season series with the Minnesota Vikings (2-7) for the second consecutive season with a 45-7 Monday Night beatdown at Lambeau Field.

Handing out grades following the Packers’ dominating victory:

Passing Offense: A

Aaron Rodgers was really good, but that’s almost to be expected at this point. Rodgers worked his way closer to NFL history with four touchdowns and no interceptions, extending his season numbers to 28 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

Rodgers worked his way closer to NFL history with four touchdowns and no interceptions, extending his season numbers to 28 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

Rodgers completed 23 of 30 throws for 250 yards for an average of 8.33 yards per pass attempt and a passer rating of 140.3.

Rodgers continues to spread the ball around to his talented group of receivers, targeting Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings each five times, plus Jermichael Finley, Donald Driver and James Starks each with four passes. Nelson was on the receiving end of two touchdowns, while Jennings and fullback John Kuhn both had one.

With the game out of hand in the fourth quarter, backup QB Matt Flynn came in and completed both of his pass attempts for 38 yards, including a 31-yard connection with Finley.

Flynn led the offense to as many touchdown drives (one) as the Vikings had the entire game.

Rushing Offense: B-

It’s a good thing the Packers offense has Rodgers because the running game continues to be an average attack.

Even with opposing defenses playing for the pass, the running game averaged less than 3 yards per carry in the game.

James Starks had 63 yards on 13 carries (4.8 average) and has made it apparent he is the team’s most effective running back.

Ryan Grant was given eight running attempts and gained only six yards (0.8 average).

Rodgers also ran six times for 21 yards.

The lone touchdown run was by Flynn in the fourth quarter, who scrambled into the end zone from three yards out.

Rushing Defense: A-

This was a much improved outing against Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson, who Clay Matthews called “the best running back in the league.”

Three weeks ago in the first Packers-Vikings matchup, Peterson ran for 175 yards on 24 carries (7.3 average). In the rematch, Peterson had only 51 yards on 14 attempts (3.6 average).

Minnesota trailed all but the first five minutes of the game and Peterson can’t be nearly as effective with the Vikings playing from behind. But considering his ability to break a huge run at any time, having Peterson’s longest run be for 13 yards is an accomplishment for the Packers’ run defense.

Passing Defense: A-

Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was kept off balance by an aggressive, blitzing Green Bay attack. Ponder completed 16 of 34 passes for 190 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.

Clay Matthews picked up his fourth and fifth sacks of the season by taking down Ponder, while Tramon Williams intercepted a deep flea-flicker attempt.

Considering that Ponder is a rookie quarterback in only his third career start (two of which came against the Packers), Green Bay came in with the right strategy by making Ponder uncomfortable in the pocket.

Special Teams: B-

Randall Cobb showed the good and the bad in the same night. The rookie took a punt return back 80 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter to give the Packers a 7-0 lead. But then, in the third quarter, Cobb muffed a punt inside the 20 yard line that the Vikings recovered. This led to Minnesota’s only points of the game as Peterson ran in a touchdown on a shortened field.

So, while Cobb became the first rookie in Packers history to return both a kick and punt for a touchdown in the same season, he also fumbled in the return game for the third time this season.

With Rodgers and the offense playing so well, it’s more important for Cobb to avoid turnovers than it is for him to make a spectacular return.

Mason Crosby continued his perfect season with a 25-yard field goal.

Overall: A

The Packers’ defensive performance was inspired and looked like a group that is ready to make a push for a second consecutive Super Bowl.

Rodgers continues at a record-setting pace and Green Bay’s offense continues to be the highest-scoring and most efficient in the NFL.

With the Vikings season pretty much on the line, the Packers buried their division rival at Lambeau Field in embarrassing fashion and looked dominant in doing so. The Packers have now won 15 consecutive games dating back to December 2010.

If the defense continues to play this aggressively, this team could be even better than it was during last season’s remarkable playoff run. That is a scary thought for the rest of the NFL.

The big challenge now will be playing three games in 11 days, with a home game against Tampa Bay on Sunday before the Packers head to Detroit on very short rest to play the Lions.

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