Report card vs. Vikings

Green Bay coaching gets a D in last second loss to Minnesota

PASSING OFFENSE: A-minus
Buoyed by 13 completions in his first 13 passes and going 16-of-19 for 211 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, Brett Favre turned in his best performance at the Metrodome, which usually has been a house of horrors for him. Favre finished 28-of-36 for 315 yards without an interception and wasn't sacked.

Favre got a lift from Donald Driver, who had a season-high eight receptions for 114 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Driver, though, had only two catches totaling 13 yards in the second half as the Vikings devoted two defenders to him after Robert Ferguson went out with a sprained knee in the second quarter. Consequently, the passing game was hit-and-miss for most of the final 30 minutes, with Favre having to turn to Antonio Chatman and a trio of tight ends.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D
Ahman Green's season-ending quadriceps injury midway through the fourth quarter notwithstanding, the team's biggest Achilles' heel of 2005 continued to be detrimental. Green, who returned after a one-game absence because of issues with the same quad, managed only 49 yards in 16 carries. The meager per-carry average of 3.1 yards was aided by a 13-yard run.

As an offense, the Packers averaged a little more than 2 yards per rush with 45 yards in 22 carries.

Tony Fisher, who will assume the lead role with Green out, had just 2 yards in five attempts. The Packers are averaging a miserly 3.1 yards on the ground this season.

PASS DEFENSE: C-minus
A superb, pressure-filled first half, in which the Packers sacked Daunte Culpepper three times and held him to 52 passing yards, gave way to an abominable performance in the second half that spurred the Vikings' comeback from a 17-0 halftime deficit.

Culpepper rarely was under duress, as he was in the face of occasional blitzing the first two quarters, and had ample time to pick apart both the secondary and the slow-to-react linebackers for 228 yards the last 30 minutes. The defense inexcusably allowed Culpepper to complete two straight passes in the waning seconds, getting Paul Edinger in position for the game-winning, 56-yard field goal.

Cornerback Ahmad Carroll has kicked the habit of holding penalties that plagued him at the outset of the season, but his coverage skills leave a lot to be desired, particularly evident on Culpepper's 27-yard touchdown strike to a streaking Marcus Robinson in the third quarter.

RUSH DEFENSE: B
What little damage done by the Vikings on the ground evolved out of pass sets, when Culpepper either took off out of the shotgun on a designed draw up the middle or scrambled away from the rush. He ran seven times for 41 yards, only 4 yards fewer than Mewelde Moore's team-high total in 13 carries. Moore did gash the defense with 15- and 13-yard pickups, but committed a crucial fumble deep in Packers territory on a strip by middle linebacker Nick Barnett, which led to a Green Bay field goal.

Michael Bennett wasn't much of a factor with his half-dozen rushing attempts for 22 yards.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D-minus
Can't write off a horrendous display by the unit as a complete failure because Ryan Longwell connected on field-goal attempts of 53 and 39 yards, the latter of which tied the score at 20-20 with 24 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Yet, for the second time this season, wayward kicks by usually sure-fire Longwell likely cost the Packers a victory. Without calling out first-year holder/punter B.J. Sander directly, Longwell hinted that his two misfires from 53 and 42 yards were partly attributable to placements of the football that weren't to his liking.

Green Bay's troubles carried over to the kickoff-coverage group. Koren Robinson averaged 29.4 yards in five returns. His 72-yard burst late in the second quarter nearly proved fatal, but the Packers forced a fumble on the first play from scrimmage. Then, late in the game, a missed tackle allowed Robinson to pick up 10 more yards, giving Culpepper a reasonable shot from the Vikings' 36 to throw two passes and get Edinger in range for the game-winning boot.

COACHING: D
A continuation of a rash of season-ending injuries to key players aside, Mike Sherman came under fire by numerous Monday morning armchair quarterbacks bleeding green and gold. They were left scratching their heads and cursing Sherman's name after he basically took the football out of Favre's hot right hand with the game on the line. A curious run call on third-and-2 from the Vikings' 20 backfired, with fill-in center Scott Wells snapping the ball early to Favre and forcing a hurried handoff to Fisher that resulted in a 1-yard loss. Thus, the Packers had to settle for Longwell's score-tying field goal in the final minute, when they seemingly were in position with enough time left to go for the victory.

That Minnesota went on to win the game after trailing 17-0 at halftime is an indictment on how the season has quickly unraveled at 1-5. The outlook is not bright with three straight games against heavyweights Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Atlanta next on the schedule.


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