Despite Peterson Performance Packers Prevail in Border Battle
The Border Battle between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers began inside on Lambeau Field on Sunday. Both teams were coming off of embarrassing losses, the Packers to the Giants and the Vikings losing to NFC North rival Chicago. Green Bay had a 5 game winning streak coming into New York and was hoping to bounce back against the Vikings and keep their winning ways, despite a plethora of injuries. The Vikings have been grasping at straws, hoping to right their sinking ship despite unbelievable play from their running back. Since starting the season 4-1 Minnesota has beaten a pathetic Arizona Cardinals team and the Motor City Kitties. With a loss to the Green Bay Packers the Minnesota Vikings would fall to 6-6, losing two straight games out of the bye week while their final 4 opponents have a combined win/loss of 32/15/1.
Green Bay received the ball and got into the end-zone on their first drive when WR James Jones plucked the football from right in front of A.J. Jefferson. The pass defense was poor and it seemed like Aaron Rodgers and the Packers were just getting started but that wasn’t the case. That would be Rodgers sole touchdown pass and despite getting Greg Jennings back from a groin injury it was just a few plays before Jordy Nelson was sidelined for the rest of the game with a lingering hamstring injury. The Packers injury woes continued when T.J. Lang was sidelined becoming the third starting offensive lineman needing to be replaced. The laundry list of injured players isn’t an excuse and the team has embraced the next man up mentality, but the injuries are definitely not making things any easier.
They have occurred on both sides of the ball and without Charles Woodson, Sam Shields, Clay Mathews and C.J. Wilson playing the Packers were forced to replace and entire half of the field. Not to mention the injuries to Desmond Bishop and Nick Perry. This is a defense that had nearly half of their starting lineup missing, yet they have not allowed a 100 yard rusher since Frank Gore in week 1. That did change on Sunday as Adrian Peterson exploded for over 200 yards and gaining over 100 yards on the ground for the 6th straight game. Peterson finished the game with 21 attempts for 210 yards and a 82 yard touchdown in the 2nd quarter that gave his team a 14-10 lead going into halftime.
The team should be called the Minnesota Adrian Petersons and they should run an offense eerily similar to the college powerhouse Alabama Crimson Tides. Myself and many others must have been baffled when they saw Toby Gerhart come in for the series following AP’s big touchdown burst. It was like Leslie Frazier and the coaching staff felt they needed to stay with the RB rotation of 3 series for Peterson, 1 for Gerhart. The Vikings had an opportunity to ride the hot hand, or legs, of Adrian Peterson and rather they decided to keep his helmet off and his playmaking ability on the sideline. The team would go three-and-out and give the Packers the ball back without increasing their lead.
Peterson has been playing exceptionally and with his big game Sunday he increased his league lead in rushing yards tallying 1446 through 12 games. That is over 300 yards more than 2nd place RB Marshawn Lynch but it should be even more. Peterson broke the 200 mark in the middle of the 3rd quarter and had just 2 rushing attempts after that. In a game that was still a one possession game the Vikings decided to take the ball out of the hands of their best player. Did they not know that they are the Minnesota Adrian Petersons? Instead they allowed Christian Ponder the chance to prove that he should be a starting QB in the NFL and you know what he did? He proved that he should not be and that the MN AP’s need to find a new “leader” under Center.
Ponder made a terrible throw in the first half that was intercepted by Morgan Burnett right after Adrian Peterson busted down the sidelines for a 48 yard gain. Instead of putting points on the board and extending their lead, Ponder rolled to his right and threw a pass across his body into the end-zone intended for Mike Jenkins but was picked off by Packers safety Morgan Burnett. The Vikings QB would make another terrible throw late in the 3rd quarter sealing the team’s fate. Ponder and the Vikings were down just 6 points when they got downfield with another great 23 yard run from AP and a phantom pass interference penalty on Tramon Williams against Toby Gerhart. Minnesota was given 1st and 10 from the 25 which would seem like prime Adrian Peterson country but not in the Vikings mind. The team attempted a pass with Ponder and the QB noodle armed an attempt that floated in the air just long enough for Burnett to get in front of it.
That interception led to the longest offensive drive in the NFL thus far by Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay would eat up 11 minutes of clock, capping the drive off with a successful 31 yard field goal by headcase kicker Mason Crosby. Crosby doinked a first quarter FG attempt off the uprights earlier in the game and missed a 50+ yard attempt before halftime badly. Head Coach Mike McCarthy thought about going for it in his own territory on 4th down but gave his kicker a chance and let him redeem himself. Crosby would make 3 of his 4 attempts and may have saved his job for now, but if the Packers know what is good for them it would be to ditch Mason as soon as possible. If this Green Bay team makes it to the playoffs there is no doubt in my mind that Mason Crosby doesn’t have the mental fortitude to make a big kick with the game on the line. Go out and find his replacement this week, don’t think that this problem is fixed just because the home crowd erupted in support whenever he did make a kick.
To be honest the Packers didn’t deserve to win the game on Sunday as the Vikings squandered away multiple opportunities but the fact of the matter is that Minnesota can only blame themselves. Green Bay did what they needed to do and their patchwork starting units did just enough to come away with a W. Green Bay may have been the beneficiaries of a questionable roughing the passer call that nullified a Jared Allen interception. That play however was, if not a roughing the passer penalty, definitely a late hit and fans must remember that this is a league that PROTECTS THE QUARTERBACK. I am not saying that it is right but I am saying that the call was correct. Chaos Theory is the greatest and every losing team and fan has to find that one moment that “could’ve been” but the biggest determining factor of this game was Christian Ponder.
It’s time to give someone else an opportunity because when Adrian Peterson is playing like this and your team is 2-4 under that stretch there IS someone to blame. Nothing to Ponder here the Vikings are being held back by a QB they reached for at 12 sealing his destiny at getting the chance to start for at least 2 years, if not 3. Adrian Peterson is the newest Barry Sanders, a phenomenal running back with Hall of Fame stats being buried on a mediocre team incapable of making a Super Bowl run. The Green Bay Packers would jump back into 1st place in the NFC North when the Seattle Seahawks took down the Chicago Bears in overtime. Green Bay is in the driver seat to create their own destiny but hopefully they can start getting some of their key players back from the trainer’s table.