A rarity happened for the second week in a row in the NFL, a tie. Week 1 it was the Browns and Steelers, and this week it’s the Packers and Vikings. Here’s how Green Bay’s offense, defense, and special teams graded out in the 29-29 tie against the Minnesota Vikings.
When a team puts up nearly 30 points, typically a grade higher than this week’s “B-“ is given. However, Green Bay attempted six field goals on the day and Mason Crosby connected on five of them, but the reality is that an offense led by Aaron Rodgers shouldn’t be settling for three points that often.
Rodgers’ knee was an issue, no question. The signal-caller wasn’t as mobile as he normally is, and it seems as if this is going to be an issue for the foreseeable future with the Packers. Despite the knee issue, he still had a fine game, throwing for 281 yards and a score. Rodgers spread the ball around well, as Randall Cobb, Geronimo Allison, Davante Adams, and Jimmy Graham all finished the game with four or more catches.
The running game was average as well. After getting off to a fast start rushing the ball, Green Bay finished with only 101 yards rushing on the day.
There are several places this could begin. Allowing Kirk Cousins to torch the secondary, Clay Matthews’ questionable roughing the passer penalty that kept the Vikings alive, or the inability to contain either Stefon Diggs or Adam Thielen.
Cousins was fantastic for Minnesota as he finished with 425 yards passing and four touchdowns compared to one interception. He led the Vikings back from down 29-21 with less than two minutes remaining in regulation to tie the game up. That touchdown to Thielen was a thing of beauty as he placed the ball in an incredibly small window for the score. The 2-point conversion was an easy throw to Diggs who ran a terrific route to shake free in the back corner of the end zone. He may not be worth every penny he signed for this offseason, but he proved he can be a franchise quarterback.
The penalty on Matthews gave Minnesota new life on the game-tying drive. Cousins was intercepted deep down the field on a play that would have likely put the nail in Minnesota’s coffin, but Matthews was flagged for roughing the passer – for the second week in a row – to extend the game.
Last week’s call against Matthews was a blatant one and a correct one, this one was a bit of a gray area. Matthews was flagged for driving Cousins into the turf with his body weight. Plenty of Packers fans are going to be mad about the call, but by the letter of the rule book there’s reason to call it. And remember, this rule probably isn’t in place if Rodgers doesn’t get hurt on a similar play against Minnesota last season.
Special Teams: B+
This group saw extreme positives – a blocked punt for a touchdown, a 51.8-yard average for J.K. Scott – and some extreme negatives – Crosby’s missed would-have-been-game-winner, allowing a 37-yard average on kickoff returns – in the tie.
Teams typically don’t lose games in which they block a kick of some sort, and technically the Packers didn’t lose on Sunday even though it may feel like it. That play was huge, especially on a day when the offense isn’t operating at 100pecent due to the health of Rodgers. Scott was excellent, too for the Packers. The only mistake he had was the touchback in the overtime period. Had Minnesota had to operate from deep inside its own territory things may have turned out differently. That seems nitpicky, though.
Crosby was great for the Packers – connecting on his first five field goal attempts – until he wasn’t. After his make from 52 yards out was wiped out due to a timeout just prior to the snap by Minnesota, he missed the second try that would have won the game. It’s hard to look past that. The loss certainly isn’t on Crosby, by any stretch, but the Packers would be feeling much better had he made that attempt from 52 yards out.
Fun Fact: A
According to Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first game in NFL history to finish in a 29-29 tie.