Christmas Day for football fans all across the world has finally arrived – the first full Sunday of the 2020 NFL regular season is upon us. And while the year of 2020 has been anything but expected and normal, the sport of football can hopefully bring a sense of normalcy for fans.
Opening up in Minnesota against the Vikings, the Green Bay Packers put together a very solid offensive output throughout, and even with the defense letting the Vikings back into the game, both sides of the ball played quite solid. GB’s 43-34 victory places them atop the NFC North division, alongside the Chicago Bears, who also won a divisional battle to open the year.
After starting with the ball, Aaron Rodgers helped lead the team down the field, helping showcase what the rest of the game would look like in terms of moving the ball on offense. After sputtering out after having moved down to the MIN 10, Mason Crosby knocked through a 31-yard field goal to put GB on the board first.
Minnesota came back down the field and grabbed the lead, as Dalvin Cook looked super fresh and ready to back up the big-money contract extension that he and the team just came to terms on. This scoring output would be the last for the Vikings until the game’s final drive before going into halftime.
After having thought that Aaron Jones got on the board for the first time this year, that outcome was reviewed and overturned, which led to the Packers failing to punch it in from close and turning the ball over on downs, which, at the time, seemed to represent a bit of a turn in omentum that favored the Vikings.
But all that did was place the Vikings deep in their own territory, something that cornerback Jaire Alexander made sure was put to good use. After having followed Adam Thielen in close to the offensive line due to motion, Alexander flew in from his CB spot on Kirk Cousins’ blind side, catching him by surprise and sacking him in the end zone for a safety, something that moved the needle back to the side of Green Bay for the rest of the game.
The next three drives for GB resulted in scores, as they produced a field goal and two touchdowns, respectively. Davante Adams caught a 24-yd dime from Rodgers for the first TD, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling reeled in a 45-yard bomb over the young secondary of the Vikings.
Due to Cousins seeming to only wanna target Thielen in the first half, Alexander was able to pick off Cousins with one hand, and that turnover helped produce the MVS TD catch. Minnesota was able to reclaim a little momentum going into half, as a quick, 14-second drive helped Dan Bailey produce a 35-yard field goal going into half.
The first three drives of the second half, two by MIN and one by GB, resulted in punts or a turnover on downs, and besides the final drive of the game that resulted in GB kneeling out the game, all other second-half drives resulted in points for both teams.
GB started the second-half scoring output with Rodgers finding Adams for a 1-yd TD, which was then matched by Thielen’s first TD of the day and Cook’s two-point conversion. GB then matched MIN with Allen Lazard’s first TD of 2020 on a beautiful goaline rollout that resulted in Lazard creating enough separation to haul in the throw from Rodgers.
Cook’s second rushing score of the game, this time from three yards out, was matched with his second rushing two-point conversion as well, keeping the pressure on GB to continue to score. Which they did, resulting in Jones punching it in from five yards out, concluding the scoring output for the Packers on the day.
The Vikings did put up another scoring drive when they touched the ball next, as Cousins connected with Thielen for a score to help conclude a nine-play drive, which also saw Thielen also convert a two-point conversion.
A failed onside kick put a kibosh on any further attempts to close the deficit, and Tim Boyle came out to kneel out the rest of the game, sending the Packers home winners to open up the year.
The offense obviously was quite dominant, putting up 43 points after having an abbreviated offseason and no preseason slate to help iron out some kinks. The usage of timeouts to help deal with the play clock was quite concerning, especially coming out of TV timeouts and longer plays.
The usage of timeouts will need to improve sooner rather than later, as GB will not always have the luxury of being able to burn timeouts for a play clock, as there will come a time that TOs will be needed to help stop the clock near the end of a half or to try and preserve some time on the clock in a losing situation.
Any talk of needing to find additions for the WR staff looked to be all for naught after how well this unit performed this week, but the Vikings do have one of the weaker defensive secondaries in the league, which let this group do whatever they wanted against it.
So the WR group will still be under the microscope as the weeks go on, but we at least were able to see their full potential on display this week.
The offensive line lost Lane Taylor to injury during this game, and with Billy Turner out for the game, rookie Jon Runyan Jr. was called upon to come into the game, and he more than held his own against an above-average D-Line for the Vikings.
On the defensive side of the ball, the pass rush looks to be as solid as ever, and even with the depth concerns at LB, Christian Kirksey was a solid offseason addition, as he brings a nice element of coverage abilities to the table as well.
Going into their Week 2 matchup against the Detroit Lions, the Packers will look to make it 2-0 on the year, and they will be able to enjoy another NFC North matchup in the confines of Lambeau Field.뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23