It was the beginning of a new era in Minnesota as the new(ish) look Vikings took the field against the Green Bay Packers in Minneapolis this afternoon. With more new starters on the team than anytime in recent seasons under the recently extended Mike Zimmer, all eyes were on US Bank Stadium to see how the youthful defense would perform against rookie corner slayer Aaron Rodgers.
The result? Not great.
The Vikings fell 43-34, and while they did hold the lead after the first quarter, the game was otherwise never really within their grasp as the Rodgers and the Packers moved the ball with impunity in front of the opposite of a sold out crowd in downtown Minneapolis.
The Vikings won the toss and chose to defer, as a sign of confidence by head coach Mike Zimmer in his young defense. The move seemed to backfire as the Packers quickly made their way down the field, but the Vikings defense did the bend-don’t-break thing and held the Packers to a Mason Crosby field goal.
After a touchback and some nice passes from Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins to now elder statesman Adam Thielen, the Vikings were also in Packers territory, capitalizing with the first of two Dalvin Cook touchdowns. Cook, who signed his coveted extension yesterday, finished the day with 49 yards rushing on 12 carries (for a 4.1-average) and one grab for -2 yards. His backup, Alexander Mattison had half the carries with 6 but more yards (just barely) with 50. Mattison also had 4 grabs for 30 yards through the air.
The rest of the game was defined by the Packers offense, with Aaron Rodgers doing what some expected (I’m referring to me, on my podcast Morning Joes) he’d do against the young and inexperienced corners the Vikings have on their roster. Rodgers had 4 touchdowns on the day and connected with receiver Davante Adams 14 times, which tied a franchise record in Green Bay.
Rodgers finished 32-of-44 for 364 yards and a 127.5 passer rating. Adams had two touchdowns, with the other two Rodgers TD passes going to Marquez Valdes-Scantling (who ended his day with four catches, 96 yards) and receiver Allen Lazard (who had 4-63).
Green Bay had a 22-10 lead at half-time.
On the ground, Packers star Aaron Jones had 16 carries for 66 yards and 1 TD, and Tyler Ervin had 38 yards on 3 carries.
Davante Adams’ numbers were nearly matched by Thielen, who had 2 touchdowns and 110 yards receiving (vs. the over 150 yards that Adams had) on the day (although Thielen’s per catch average of 18.3 dwarfed Adams’ average).
Olabisi Johnson had 3 grabs for 56 yards, also with an average over 18 yards per grab (18.7). Rookie receiver Justin Jefferson had two grabs on the day, as well, with the first 26 yards of his career being notched today. The tight ends did little, with Kyle Rudolph having 2 catches as well (for 28 yards), and Irv Smith Jr. grabbing 1-for-12.
Kirk Cousins went 19-of-25 for 259 yards with 2 TDs and 1 pick for a 118.6 passer rating. He was sacked twice including once for a safety in the second quarter on a corner blitz that worked perfectly (which cut the Vikings lead to 7-5 at the time).
The Vikings are now behind the Packers and Bears, with the Bears coming back to best the Lions today.
The Vikings travel to Indianapolis next week to play the Philip Rivers helmed Colts. Stay tuned to purplePTSD.com and VikingsTERRITORY.com all week for more in-depth analysis of Sunday’s “action”.