The Green Bay Packers entered Sunday’s bout with the Minnesota Vikings as the least penalized team in the NFL. The first half looked far from it, causing a slow start that ultimately forced the team to play catch-up the rest of the game.
The Packers finished the game with eight penalties for 92 yards.
The majority of first-half penalties were uncharacteristically committed by the offense, consistently putting the group behind schedule and in long third downs.
The offense didn’t get into a rhythm until the second half, where it was able to even the score before losing on a last-second field goal by the Vikings.
Six of the Packers’ eight third downs in the first half were 3rd-and-8 or longer, leaving Aaron Rodgers in obvious passing situations behind an offensive line that was struggling against Vikings’ pass-rushers.
The team impressively finished 7/11 (63%) on third downs, which was a big jump from their 40.5% conversion rate entering the game.
The penalties subsided in the second half and, unsurprisingly, second and third downs became shorter, while the offense became more efficient while moving the ball.
The Packers only faced three third downs in the second half — none of them longer than six yards — and converted all of them en route to a 21 point half.
Several factors, including special teams (again), played a part in the Packers’ divisional loss, but penalties need to be near the top of the list.
Against a Vikings offense that was efficient for much of this game, this contest came down to who made the least amount of mistakes.
The Packers lost in that category and ultimately lost the game.——————
Joshua Frey-Sam is a journalism student and aspiring sportscaster hailing from Winnipeg, Canada. A Packers fan since 2005, Josh has worked to master the financial and scouting aspect of the NFL over the past few years. Josh remains a firm believer that Dez did not, in fact, catch the ball. You can follow him on twitter at @jfreysam.