Week 11 Game Recap: Minnesota Vikings 20, Green Bay Packers 17
What you need to know
There were times in the first half of the game that the Vikings looked like they would go a second week without an offensive touchdown. When the game was tied at seven after Devonte Edwards returned a Brett Favre interception for a touchdown, it seemed possible for the Vikings to actually win a second week in a row without an offensive touchdown. Fortunately, Mewelde Moore was on fire in the second half, and Brad Johnson was solid down the stretch. They even managed to score. Add in a solid defensive effort, and all the ingredients came together for a Vikings' comeback in Green Bay.
Johnson started the game slowly, seemingly adjusting to the glove he decided to wear on his throwing hand. His early passes lacked zip and floated on him a bit, leading to his only interception of the game. The pass looked like a wounded duck, and was easily grabbed by Nick Collins of the Packers. He settled down afterwards, and though he never looked fantastic, managed an effective game that turned successful when the running game awoke in the second half. Johnson's late game hookup with Koren Robinson set up Paul Edinger's game winning field goal. Jermaine Wiggins was Johnson's favorite target, gaining 67 yards on seven receptions.
Mewelde Moore proved to be a difference maker in the game, coming alive in the second half to finish with a season-high 122 rushing yards. He ripped off several big runs, and proved elusive and hard to tackle throughout the game. While Ciatrick Fason came in at the Green Bay goal line to score the lone offensive touchdown, capping a time consuming 18 play drive, it was clearly Moore that was the star for the Vikings' offense.
The run defense was another huge factor in the game, holding Green Bay to 21 total rushing yards. This forced the Packers to be one dimensional on offense, which led to Favre attempting to do too much with his arm. The turnovers that resulted killed Green Bay's momentum at two crucial points in the game, and gave the Vikings the chance they needed to win the game.
Green Bay badly wanted to establish the running game, but was ineffective at doing so. Samkon Gado started the game promisingly with a six yard run. He has a major problem though, in that every time he gained positive yardage, he would follow that up with a big loss. This was due to both poor offensive line play, and superb penetration by the Vikings' defensive line. Once Gado fumbled early in the second half, he was pulled for Tony Fisher. He would not return. Fisher wasn't much more effective, and the running game was largely abandoned throughout most of the second half.
Brett Favre had a typically up and down game, throwing two first half touchdowns to receiver Donald Driver, but also throwing two costly interceptions. The first was returned for a touchdown, at a time when the Packers seemed to be exerting their will on the Vikings. The second ended a promising second half drive that could have altered the outcome of the game. Together, they outweighed his accomplishments, and proved too costly to overcome.
The defense played well early, but then got beaten up and worn down by the Vikings' running attack in the second half. They allowed Mewelde Moore and company to pound the ball late, keeping the Green Bay defense on the field for long stretches of time. Clearly they got tired, as the Vikings found it easier and easier to move the ball as the game went on. This led to a major breakdown of coverage that allowed Brad Johnson to connect with Koren Robinson on a big late game play. The play set up a winning field goal, and earned the Packers their eighth loss of the season, virtually assuring them of their first losing season with Brett Favre at the helm.
What you ought to know
|QB Brad Johnson, Pass: 18 - 30 - 196 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 13 - 0|
Johnson improved to 3-0 as the Vikings' starter. He wore a glove on his throwing hand that seemed to affect his passes early in the game. This led to his first half interception, a wobbly, floating pass that was easily snagged by Green Bay rookie Nick Collins. Otherwise, Johnson was merely efficient, completing a rather low percentage of his passes, and throwing no touchdowns. His favorite targets were tight end Jermaine Wiggins and wide receiver Koren Robinson. He had a nice 16 yard run on the opening drive of the game. Johnson fumbled the ball twice, losing one of them to the Packers.
|RB Mewelde Moore, Rush: 22 - 122 - 0, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets)|
Moore seemed to run faster and harder as the game went on, and earned his highest rushing total of the season. He averaged over five yards per carry, including big gains of 14, 12, and 24 yards. He also had a 25 yard run called back on a penalty. While he didn't find the end zone, he did prove to be the best running back on the team. He was phenomenal in the second half. He was a difference maker in the game, as he softened up the Green Bay defense and kept the Vikings offense on the field. This proved to be a successful combination as the Vikings came back for the win.
Bennett only managed ten yards on his five carries, although he had two seven yard runs called back on penalties. He only had one carry late in the game, which went for a five yard loss. He saw less touches with Mewelde Moore running well in the second half.
Fason vultured some goal line and short distance looks. He never managed more than two yards a carry, but did manage to score a touchdown from the Green Bay one yard line on his second try.
Robinson was Johnson's favorite wide receiver target in the game. He had a few drops, but also made one of the biggest plays of the game. With the game tied late in the fourth quarter, Johnson found him wide open for a 35 yard reception. With the completion, the Vikings ran down the clock and kicked a field goal for the win. Robinson also had a very nice diving catch for a six yard gain and a first down.
Williamson only managed one reception in the game, but to his credit, it was his only target that was catchable. He was used on a end around for an eight yard gain.
Both of Taylor's receptions went for first downs. The second was a excellent 35 yard grab on a badly thrown, jump ball type pass from Johnson.
Robinson has no catches in the game.
Burleson was inactive for the game.
Wiggins was Johnson's favorite target. The sure handed Wiggins made some nice moves after the catch, including a highlight reel hurdle over a defender. He was Minnesota's second best offensive performer of the game, behind Mewelde Moore.
Kleinsasser got his lone catch early in the game, and turned it into a first down.
Edinger missed badly on his first field goal attempt of 49 yards. It was a low kick that ended up well shot of the goalposts. He settled down and made both of his other field goals (24 and 27 yards, the later of which was the game winner) and both his PATs.
Green Bay had 14 rushing attempts for 21 yards. Despite the close score throughout the game, the Packers were forced to abandon the run game as the Minnesota run defense prohibited Samkon Gado and Tony Fisher from doing anything against them. The defensive line was extremely disruptive, and made several tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
With Green Bay focusing on the passing game, the Vikings' pass defense had a tough assignment. They persevered though, shutting down Favre and company in the second half. They gave up two touchdowns to Donald Driver, but they also sacked and intercepted Favre twice, including one pick that Devonte Edwards returned for a 51 yard interception return. The second interception ended a promising Green Bay drive, and further cemented the changing momentum in the game. The pass defense gave up some plays, but also made enough to earn a victory.
Favre made some mistakes that proved too costly to overcome, especially with an ineffective running game. He played well throughout most of the first half, completing a high percentage of his passes while hooking up with Donald Driver for two touchdowns. He also made his first mistake of the game, giving up a late first half interception that was returned for a score. His second interception ended a promising second half drive that killed Green Bay's momentum.
|RB Samkon Gado, Rush: 10 - 7 - 0, Rec: 1 - 30 - 0 (2 targets)|
Gado had a bipolar night. He seemed to follow any runs for positive yards with runs for big losses behind the line of scrimmage. After an early second half fumble, he headed to Head Coach Mike Sherman's doghouse, where he would remain for the rest of the game. His one true highlight was a 30 yard catch early in the game.
|RB Tony Fisher, Rush: 4 - 14 - 0, Rec: 4 - 25 - 0 (5 targets)|
Fisher saw his touches increase in passing situations (very much like a third down back). He factored as heavily in the passing game as the run, the later of which started as an infrequent speller for starter Gado. Once Gado left the game after a second half fumble, Fisher became the primary ball carrier. He was ineffective (as was the Green Bay rushing attack in general). His best production came through the air on dump-offs and screens.
Henderson caught an eight yard pass out of the backfield.
Driver was Favre's favorite target. Several of his missed targets came on forced throws from Favre that should've gone to another receiver. He caught his first two passes for touchdowns. The first was a 15 yard bullet that capped Green Bay's second drive of the game. The second was a huge 53 yard play that came late in the first half. The Vikings' coverage was nowhere near Driver on the play, and he ran in untouched after the catch.
All four of Thurman's targets were caught, but only two by Thurman. The other two were Favre's interceptions.
Chatman had a 14 yard catch late in the first-half. Otherwise, his looks were either off-target, or in one instance, dropped. The drop was a deep pass that could have continued a drive that ultimately resulted in a Ryan Longwell field goal.
Lee was targeted heavily in two different stretches. He finished as Favre's second favorite option.
Franks had one reception.
Longwell hit a solid 46 yard field goal to tie the game late. He also made both of his first half PATs.
What started well in the first half ended terribly in the second. Mewelde Moore and the Vikings' offense wore down the Green Bay defense in the second half. The Packers allowed 160 rushing yards to Minnesota, 122 of which came on the legs on Moore. They allowed Ciatrick Fason to score from one yard out in the second half.
The pass defense was solid, allowing less than 200 yards, intercepting a pass, and sacking Brad Johnson four times. The worst play proved to be their most costly, as a blown coverage allowed Koren Robinson to get free and make a 35 yard reception that set up the game winning field goal.