The Green Bay Packers were unable to sustain any sort of offense against the Minnesota defense, and the Vikings emerged with a 17-14 victory in the first regular season game at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The team looked off from the very first offensive play of the night. Aaron Rodgers connected with Davante Adams on Green Bay’s first play, but the wide receiver fumbled. The Packers were fortunate enough that Randall Cobb immediately got the ball back, but it set the tone for an underwhelming and poor offensive performance.
The Green Bay defense came to play against Adrian Peterson, and quickly forced a Vikings punt on their second drive that was blocked by Ty Montgomery. Working with excellent field position, Rodgers took the offense 52 yards and capped off the drive by finding Jordy Nelson for the receiver’s second touchdown of the season.
But after that, the offense faltered for most of the remainder of the game. The Packers ended the day with just 263 yards, and the only other score came on a scramble by Rodgers midway through the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to three.
The defense forced a quick Vikings’ punt on the following drive to give Rodgers one more chance to win or tie. The Packers started marching, putting together a nine play drive, but Rodgers threw an interception—his second costly turnover of the night—to effectively seal the deal for Minnesota.
The run defense was superb for Green Bay all night. Peterson was limited to a measly 19 yards before leaving with an injury, and the Vikings as a team managed just 30 yards total on the ground. The Packers also sacked quarterback Sam Bradford four times in the game.
But Bradford and top-target Stefon Diggs tore apart the Green Bay secondary. In his first start as a Viking, the Minnesota signal-caller completed 22/31 passes for 286 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Diggs accounted for over half of that production, racking up 182 yards and a score on nine catches. Second-year cornerback Damarious Randall struggled mightily in coverage after a strong game in Jacksonville, getting beat time after time and committing a final pass interference penalty that allowed Minnesota to run out the clock.
The Packers had a lot of things go their way Sunday night, but just could not capitalize enough to come away victorious. Green Bay benefitted from 137 penalty yards called against the Vikings, luckily pounced back on two of Aaron Rodgers’ three fumbles, and was fortunate that Cobb stripped the Minnesota defender on to prevent the Vikings from keeping the ball after Adams’ early fumble.
Rodgers also looked noticeably off all night. Despite once again making a number of nice throws and escaping the pocket regularly, he threw for just 213 yards with a touchdown an interception to Trae Waynes. He also lost a fumble, and very easily could have lost two more.
At the end of the day, the season is still young, and Green Bay will have time to make adjustments to get back on track for the promising 2016 season. But the offense has seemingly lost its identity, and it needs to figure out the issues that have haunted the unit since last season.
The Packers host their home opener next Sunday against the Lions, who ended their 25-year streak of winless games in Wisconsin a season ago. Detroit gave up a ton of yards to the Colts in a Week 1 victory, and was largely ineffective in a loss to Tennessee yesterday.
Green Bay can take away a positive that they only lost by three despite such a poor overall performance. Rodgers and the Packers need to move on quickly and look to right the ship at Lambeau for a much-needed confidence boost next week.——————
Sean Blashe is a Packers fan who grew up in Bears territory and is currently a journalism and history major at Marquette University. Sean is a writer with PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @SeanBlashe .