Game Review: Vikings – 2018 Week 2

Another division matchup, another thriller.

This one felt odd from the beginning – accounting for a gimpy QB and still learning what our new defense is really like – and it ended even more bizarrely than any of us could have imagined.

I can’t start this column without mentioning the big glaring glob of nonsense that marred this game (regardless of outcome): the “roughing” the passer call against Clay Matthews, on what should have been the game-deciding play, was total, absolute, horsesh!t.

No, I will not listen to your dissenting perspective.

Yes, I have read the rule (multiple times).

No, I don’t want to return to the 80’s.

There is no way other way to slice it, there is no counter-point, there is just a steaming pile of horesh!t.

Clay Matthews hit Cousins in the mid-section with his shoulder, while he was throwing. Then used his left hand to break his fall and avoid putting his body weight on Cousins, gently assisting him to the ground like he was putting a toddler down for nap.

Unnecessary roughness.

Go f#ck yourself, NFL. You blew this twice already this year and have two ties to show for it. You’re not making the game safer – you’re making it a joke. At least let this be reviewable so a reasonable person can double-check to see if the game is getting a dry ramming.

This is the first time I have ever even remotely identified with the people who said they are going to stop watching if the rules change the game too much. This wasn’t about winning or losing to me (although it clearly and definitively changed the outcome) – it was about the integrity of the game.

It was a joke.

Now that I have that out of my system…

I am really high on this defense. Take away the big pass to Diggs – when CB5 was inexplainably matched up on WR1 in a critical time when they bad guys needed a big play – and the defense looked pretty darn great. And if you’re just giving up one big play on an 80-degree day against an offense loaded with explosive talent, I’d say you’re doing pretty good.

The loss of Kevin King seemed like a catalyst for the Vikings offense – once he went out, it started raining. Something I noticed in the first two games is that  King either has a lot of faith in his recovery skills and is trying to bait QBs into picks or he is being instructed to primarily play trailing man. I still like him, but I’m tempering my enthusiasm until I see more of this.

Jaire Alexander, however… hooo boy, I’m liking him more every play. Well, with one exception: the touchdown to Thielen – how on Earth my man Kentrell Brice didn’t make a play on the ball OR hit the receiver on that is beyond me, but that is another play that could have been the game. Alexander continues to bring a swagger to the D that has been missing and he plays to back it up.

Clay Matthews was more active and the defensive line continues to look good, generating pressure as well as limiting the run game. Dalvin Cook only got 3.8 yards per carry this week and this is a defensive scheme that emphasized stopping the pass.

Very good showing for most of the game, went downhill in the 4th with CB1 out, then good enough to win in overtime.

Now on offense.

The Packers put up 29 (I know some if it was from special teams, but bear with me). A touchdown was taken off the board with a bad call and two other field goal drives were preceded by a receiver getting both hands on the ball in the end zone and failing to come down with it.

This game could have very easily been a blowout with Rodgers tossing four scores.

It’s a game of inches.

The run game did ok and honestly, the offense did more than I expected. They just missed three more touchdowns and in crunch time, they marched into field goal range in 30 seconds with no timeouts to line up for a game-winning field goal that was actually made once.

Even without getting any of their three close touchdown attempts and with missing a field goal at the end, the Packers put up 29 against a team that never gave up more than 31 last year.

Oh, and this was done while superman didn’t have his cape.

It’s a disappointing ending for sure, but the offense did pretty well (all things considered).

Special teams were – despite one big black mark – pretty spectacular.

A blocked punt for a touchdown. Five field goals. Good coverage. Good kick placement. The thing that really got me excited was JK Scott. On a humid day, when it looked like kickers were impacted, JK Scott lined up at his 3 yard line to take a snap for a punt, then launched a punt inside the 20 AND had enough hang time to force a fair catch.

I don’t remember ever seeing a Packer punter do that. This whole game had a lot of bright spots for the special teams unit.

On the other side, I genuinely feel bad for Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson. The look on his face in slow motion after his final miss. The painful knowledge of knowing that this game might get you cut and possibly end your short career, is hard to watch. I feel for him and wish him well in the next stage of his life.

Takeaways

  • There were bad calls, like offensive pass interference and holding – but those are the kind of bad calls you real with games because of the human element. The roughing the passer call stole a win and it was absolutely, unconditionally, a terrible call no matter what explanation the NFL tries to come up with
  • Jaire Alexander is a player worth getting excited over
  • Kevin King may not make a lot of splash plays, but it sure is noticeable when he isn’t in there
  • The Packers have complementary skills in their backfield and it’s gonna rock when Jones is back
  • This offense did pretty good against the best defense in the league even though they were missing their top running back and the best player in the league was gimping and in pain
  • Fans are split on if the terrible “roughing” the passer call was worse than the Fail Mary – Yes, NFL, it’s that bad
  • I hate icing the kicker. Not just because of this game, but because it feels cheap. And if you are going to do it, at least do it a second before the snap. Actually, don’t, just line up and play the game.
  • I’m not a fan of drafting a punter in the 5th, but I am loving me some JK Scott!
  • I think the defense was tired in the second half of a hot day and the Vikings receivers capitalized. The Packers receivers were unable to capitalize because of Rodgers immobility – so many factors went into this outcome
  • Aaron Rodgers looked pretty good against a great D with a gimpy leg, he’s only going to get healthier, and the Packers are undefeated

Self Grading

Looking back at my game preview, here’s how I fared in my predictions:

Rodgers plays, employing a quick pass game plan that looks a lot like the Dallas playoff game in 2014, resulting in 1 score and 1 interception as he gets battered behind the Vikings pass rush, which will be filled with unnecessary hits after plays – the Vikings will earn another fine after this game. I want to see the Rodgers Revenge tour kick into high gear in an early home game with that look in his eye, but I just can’t see him dominating this defense without being 100%. He didn’t dominate, but he did more that I thought he would. He got one touchdown, avoided an interception, and certainly took a beating. I think I was pretty close on this one.

Jamaal Williams struggles and gets less than 3 yards per carry. He had 3.7 yards per carry and ran tough. “Struggle” may have been an overstatement.

Jimmy Graham gets his first touchdown. Well, he got both hands on a ball in the end zone… so close.

Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark put a roadblock on any inside runs. They owned the middle.

Clay Matthews gets a sack. Matthews was flying around the QB a fair amount and looked solid. He didn’t get a sack, but he had a pressure on what would have been the game-cinching interception if it weren’t for what might have been the worse call in decades.

Jaire Alexander gets his first pick. He did, even if the box score doesn’t show it.

Randall Cobb fair catches every punt that comes near him. He did.

Final Score: Packers 16, Vikings 13 I may have been a little low, but I had the Packers winning by a field goal and, were it not for a little b!tch #ss timeout right before the snap, I would have had it right,

 

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