The Packers start in a 0-1 hole for the second straight year.
As the Packers trotted out onto the US Bank Stadium turf, fans everywhere knew football was back. But after the starters played zero snaps during the preseason and the team started sluggishly, they knew this would be a long game. A disappointing blowout to the season gave flashbacks to last year’s 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints. The hope is, just like last year, Green Bay can win their next seven games.
Packers First Half Recap
On the first drive of the game the Packers defense, expected to be one of the best this year, was no match for elite Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson as Minnesota scored off a touchdown pass from quarterback Kirk Cousins early. Coverage on Jefferson would continue to be a problem all night. As Aaron Rodgers and the Packers trotted on the field, the story was about how would the offense look without Davante Adams.
On the first offensive play of the game, second-round pick Christian Watson showed off his speed by getting open. Rodgers saw the blown coverage and hit Watson deep for what looked like an easy touchdown, except the young receiver dropped the catch. This disappointing play set the tone for the game as the offense didn’t do much after and ended up punting.
Watson knew he messed up big as he wasn’t targeted for a while after his drop. Green Bay entered the second quarter down 7-0. After a lackluster performance at that point by both sides of the ball, the offense looked to click when Rodgers and company got right down to the goal line. After failing to get in the endzone three times, Coach Matt LaFleur decided to go for it on fourth-down. This proved to be the wrong decision as running back AJ Dillon was stuffed and the team came away with nothing.
On the following drive, Green Bay’s defense collapsed as Jaire Alexander and Darnell Savage looked confused on the coverage route leaving Justin Jefferson wide open for a 64-yard gain. The D-train would hold and only allow a field goal which looked positive for Green Bay as they had a shot to score and get right back into the game.
Down 10-0, Rodgers tried to force the ball downfield as the pass intended for Randall Cobb was picked off by safety Harrison Smith. This was his first interception thrown since the 17-0 win over the Seattle Seahawks last season. After the pick, the Vikings marched downfield to add insult to injury as the Vikings found themselves with a 17-0 lead at halftime.
Packers Second Half Recap
Packers fans everywhere were shocked, upset, angry but optimistic, especially since Green Bay would get the ball after halftime and could get back in the game. This proved to be a disaster as Rodgers was sacked by three Vikings linemen as it was a brutal night for the green and gold up front. The third quarter eventually provided some hope as a catch and run from training camp standout receiver Romeo Doubs set up a promising drive capped off by AJ Dillon’s touchdown run. Dillon ended up being a star in this game despite being a backup running back while starter Aaron Jones only got five carries the whole game.
Into the fourth, the game seemed a little bit in reach as Green Bay faced a 20-7 deficit. As the game winded down, the Packers had a shot at another touchdown but for the second time of the night, failed on fourth down after Rodgers’ pass into the endzone on double coverage was broken up. The Vikings added another field goal and celebrated in the locker room with a 23-7 victory over their division rivals. A great Super Bowl victory indeed, as that’s what Vikings fans treat beating the Packers once a year.
Aaron Rodgers didn’t have his best day but with a struggling offensive line, below-average receiving core, and intense pressure all game, he still completed over 60% of his passes and 195 yards. Kirk Cousins shined with 277 yards and two touchdown passes. Surprisingly, the leading receiver for the Packers was AJ Dillon with 46 yards receiving on the day. This was nothing compared to Justin Jefferson’s day, 184 yards and two touchdowns, a fantasy superstar for many.
Next week the Green Bay Packers (0-1) head home to host the visiting Chicago Bears (1-0) in a classic Sunday Night Football rivalry game. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings (1-0) will face the Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) on Monday Night Football.
Player of the Game: Justin Jefferson (9-184-2)
Disappointing Player of the Game: The Packers’ defensive backs
NFC North Standings:
Minnesota Vikings 1-0 (1-0 division)
Chicago Bears 1-0 (0-0 division)
Detroit Lions 0-1 (0-0 division)
Green Bay Packers 0-1 (0-1 division)
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