Report card vs. Vikings

Rushing offense and defense get poor marks in win over Vikings

PASSING OFFENSE: A-minus -- The Packers aren't losing anything with Brett Favre dropping back to pass nearly 50 times a game. He had his second consecutive 300-yard passing game, completing 32 of 45 throws for 344 yards and two significant touchdowns without an interception. A perfectly executed 16-yard slant to Greg Jennings late in the first quarter gave Favre sole authority of the league record with touchdown No. 421. For good measure, Favre hit rookie James Jones in stride down the sideline for a 33-yard TD in the fourth quarter that proved to be the difference in the seven-point win.

Favre distributed the football to 10 players. He got good mileage out of TEs Donald Lee and Bubba Franks, who each had four catches, as well third-down back Vernand Morency, who turned three short passes into 33 yards. Morency's belated season debut, however, included one of three Green Bay fumbles on pass plays. Morency caught a break when the ball rolled out of bounds. Lee wasn't fortunate on a strip, as he fought for extra yardage inside the Vikings' 10. Ruvell Martin had a couple clutch downfield catches.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- Throw out a bail-out scramble by Favre, two kneel-downs by the quarterback and Jon Ryan's nifty first-down pickup on a fake punt, the Packers had just 16 designed run plays, amounting to 38 yards. Ryan Grant had the one and only significant run for the league's worst rushing offense, for 15 yards in a fourth-quarter touchdown drive when a rare hole presented itself off left tackle. DeShawn Wynn was no better in his first NFL start than fellow rookie Brandon Jackson as the starter in the previous three games. Wynn gained but 20 yards on 10 carries.

A shin injury kept Jackson out of the game, paving the way for Morency's return. He had only one carry in the situational role.

PASS DEFENSE: C -- SS Atari Bigby was the playmaking exception to the rule of a lackluster day by the secondary. Bigby forced an early fumble in the open field and was Johnny-on-the-spot to fly in and cradle a deflected football before it hit the ground for the win-clinching interception in Packers territory with about a minute to play.

CBs Charles Woodson and Al Harris were closely monitored for their aggressiveness in coverage, and each had the flag thrown at him twice for contact penalties. Woodson looked to have gotten away with interference on Bigby's interception before the ball was tipped. Harris, though, managed to disrupt three downfield passes to Troy Williamson despite fighting through back pain.

Nickel back Jarrett Bush lacked a fighting spirit defending Sidney Rice, who completed a one-sided matchup with a leaping 15-yard touchdown grab over Bush. The pass rush picked up in the second half, with Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (two sacks) and Aaron Kampman (one) routinely winning their one-on-one battles on the outside.

RUSH DEFENSE: D -- Green Bay defenders weren't complaining when Vikings coach Brad Childress inexplicably kept Adrian Peterson off the field for long stretches in the second half. The rookie wunderkind probably would have gashed a misaligned defense for 200 yards. As it was, the Packers surrendered 112 yards on only 12 Peterson carries, none bigger than a 55-yard burst on which Bigby was frozen on a big-time juke, and FS Nick Collins was briefly lost to a knee injury after bringing down Peterson. Chester Taylor averaged a healthy 5 yards on eight rushes. Linemen and linebackers were guilty of straying from their lane assignments.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus -- Ryan might be a nice fallback for the horrendous running game. He was hung out to dry after bringing the ball down in punt formation in the third quarter and heading to the right, but he exhibited some great footwork by eluding two would-be tacklers and cutting back to the middle of the field for a 7-yard pickup on fourth-and-4. The play led to a 44-yard field goal by Mason Crosby in a series that consumed almost nine minutes.

Crosby excelled indoors, connecting on all three field-goal attempts and having two touchbacks. Bush made up for his defensive lapses by popping Bobby Wade for a loss on a punt return.

Although Ryan had big averages of 49 yards gross and 44.3 net, he shanked a second-quarter punt for 33 yards.

Peterson also hurt the Packers as a kickoff returner, splitting the coverage for 51 yards in the fourth quarter.

COACHING: B -- Mike McCarthy stayed true to throwing the football at will in the persistent absence of a rushing threat, a decision that remains in the best interests of his unbeaten team. He also found a way to keep a defense honest even when it knows what's coming by going with a deep throw on the first play from scrimmage.

McCarthy and special teams coordinator Mike Stock took a calculated gamble on the fake punt at midfield with a four-point lead in hand, and they have Ryan to thank for making them look like shrewd play callers.

McCarthy's decision to not take a knee on second down inside of two minutes and the Vikings out of timeouts almost resulted in a whale of a collapse, had Minnesota taken advantage of a fumbled exchange between Favre and Grant on the play. Sure, the Packers couldn't have run out the clock in three downs, but they were in Vikings territory and ahead by seven, so a punt would have put Minnesota further back from near midfield, where it started after the turnover.


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