RUSHING OFFENSE: C — The Packers didn't generate many yards — 84 in 23 attempts for a 3.7 average — but Jackson made some things happen on a few runs in which holes sprung him to daylight through the heart of Minnesota's stout front. Jackson, who started the game inauspiciously with a fumble that he fell on, had 13 carries for 58 yards (4.5 average) and a 1-yard touchdown plunge. His biggest run went for 14 yards on a second-and-16 play. Rodgers scrambled two times with a long of 11. John Kuhn converted a fourth-and-1 with a 2-yard run to start the fourth quarter, but then he was slammed up the middle for no gain in the same situation four plays later to thwart a drive in Vikings territory.
Rodgers celebrates with the fans.
Mike Roemer/AP Images
RUSH DEFENSE: D — Adrian Peterson didn't run wild — his long gain was 17 yards — but he nearly broke a couple into the clear and piled up 131 yards with his 28 carries (4.7 average). He had four runs of double-digit yards. The linebackers were guilty of overpursuing on the edge and giving the shifty Peterson the opening to turn back inside on a number of runs. The depleted Packers have allowed season highs in rushing yards the last two games, as Minnesota racked up 196 for a robust average of 5.4 yards per carry. Harvin was lethal coming out of the backfield in the first half with three runs for 41 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown burst straight up the middle that left the Green Bay defenders flat-footed.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus — A 48-yard kickoff return by Harvin past midfield in the first quarter sapped the energy from the Packers' opening touchdown and spurred the Vikings offense to respond with the equalizer. Green Bay subsequently didn't allow Harvin, who averaged 27 yards in three runbacks, to inflict further damage the rest of the way with its kicking strategies. Pat Lee finally broke out with one good return of 30 yards, but he managed to average just 20.8 yards with five chances. Williams did little in his two punt returns, totaling all of 10 yards. Tim Masthay made the most of his two punts with a long of 51 and placing one inside the 20 for a fair catch. The Packers nearly pulled off a fake field goal on fourth-and-7 from the Vikings' 37 in the second quarter, but Quarless tripped over himself wide open down field on a deep throw from backup quarterback Matt Flynn that would have been a touchdown.
COACHING: B — There was no understating how much the Packers needed to beat Favre and the archrival Vikings in the wake of a two-game tailspin that left Green Bay on the verge of dropping below .500 after seven games. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers adjusted on the fly without Jenkins, who suffered a calf injury in pregame warm-ups, and also fellow end Ryan Pickett, who had to drop out after a few plays in the first quarter because of an aggravated ankle injury. A good mix of defensive looks with ample pressure at times ultimately flummoxed Favre and forced him into his familiar costly mistakes. Head coach/play caller Mike McCarthy helped keep Rodgers upright by putting him in shotgun and spreading things out on the majority of plays, thus keeping Minnesota's pass rushers an arm's length, if not more, away. McCarthy showed some commitment to the run game, but the second straight fourth-and-1 run call with Kuhn on an inside handoff out of the I formation was too predictable and easy for the Vikings to sniff out. McCarthy won two challenges to wipe out Minnesota touchdowns in the first half. Yet, it was curious why he didn't challenge the spot of a short catch by Jennings that was measured a few inches short of being a first down before the failed Kuhn run on fourth down — replay showed the Packers could have won that challenge had McCarthy thrown the red flag.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.