The Green Bay Packers entered Week 11 looking for their second straight victory. Fresh off a shutout over the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field a week ago, the Packers travelled to U.S. Bank Stadium to battle their divisional foe in the Minnesota Vikings. Looking for their 14th victory over an NFC North opponent under Matt Lafleur, the Packers would fall behind early on. Unable to get any rhythm going on offense through the opening quarter and a half, three straight punts following a field goal on their opening possession would set the Vikings up with scoring opportunities.
They would cash in on all three of their offensive trips to start the game. A one-yard touchdown plunge by Dalvin Cook, followed by a ten-yard touchdown grab by Adam Thielen, would see Mike Zimmer’s group take a commanding 16-3 lead. Battling back in the second half, two straight touchdown grabs by Davante Adams saw Green Bay take a 24-23 advantage.
However, after being unable to slow down Kirk Cousins and company all afternoon long, Joe Barry’s group was unable to seal the game late. A 12 play 63-yard drive by Minnesota late saw kicker Greg Joseph connect on a 29-yard field goal as time expired to give his team a 34-31 victory. In one of the most entertaining second half’s of the season to date, here are my three takeaways from Green Bay vs Minnesota.
Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings: 3 Takeaways
3. Mason Crosby on the Hot Seat
Once again, one of the stories of the game for Green Bay, Crosby continues to suffer through a tough 2021 campaign. He was called upon early on in the game to attempt a 32-yard field goal. The veteran kicker would see his attempt hit off the upright to keep the game at a 9-3 margin. The 37-year-old is now up to his highest missed kicks total in over eight seasons. Not deserving of all the blunders the Packer’s field goal operation has endured this season, the team has struggled to block in front of him while also undergoing a changed long snapper.
However, with the stretch run of the year now upon us, the group will count on the 15-year veteran to make pressure kicks. With J.J. Molson still on the practice squad, if Crosby continues to struggle, moving away from the future wall of fame member may be warranted.
2. Uncharacteristic Defense and Costly Penalties
Green Bay’s defense has been on a dominant stretch of football over the past few weeks. They entered Sunday, allowing just 309.9 yards per contest while also ranking third in the league in points given up per game. Fresh off a shutout over Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, the team harassed the one-time Super Bowl champion all afternoon long. This led him to average just four yards per attempt while also tossing two interceptions. Looking unprepared and out of position all game in week 11, the group was unable to slow down second-year wideout Justin Jefferson.
After torching the team for 169 yards and two touchdowns on eight receptions, the Louisiana State University product had receptions of 56, 43 and 21 yards. In addition to this, veteran wideout Adam Thielen also went over 100 yards on the day. Primarily attributed to the lack of pass rush they were able to generate in the absence of Rashan Gary, the Vikings were also able to move Jefferson all over the formation to create mismatches in the secondary.
After entering the weekend as the least penalized team in the league, Green Bay was also hampered by penalties in this one. They were knocked back on multiple drives by holding and hands to the face fouls. Ultimately flagged eight times for 92 yards on the afternoon, many proved costly to help extend Minnesota drives. None became more crucial than the 15 yard roughing the passer penalty against defensive lineman Kingsley Keke to wipe out a Darnell Savage interception.
1. Catching Fire after Another Slow Start
Becoming a constant theme throughout the season, the Packers enjoyed another lackadaisical start on the offensive side of the ball. Scoring just three points on their first four offensive series of the game, the team moved the ball into Minnesota territory. However, after stalling out, they were forced to settle for two field-goal attempts. Along with this, the other two possessions resulted in just two total first downs.
Catching fire in the final 30 minutes, Aaron Rodgers finally got going in the second half. The three-time MVP orchestrated three straight touchdown drives, including a 75-yard bomb to Marquez Valdes Scantling. Ultimately finishing the day 23 of 33 for 385 yards and three touchdown scores, the veteran quarterback put together one of his finest performances of the season. Nonetheless, Green Bay will need to find a way to change these slow starts out of the gate.