Aaron Rodgers' night of career highs was the best and worst of times in one fell swoop. While he threw for an unprecedented 384 yards on 26-of-37 accuracy and two touchdowns, the more telling stat of what kind of game it was for the Green Bay offense was the eight sacks Rodgers absorbed, topping his previous dubious mark of six from only two games earlier. Vikings defensive end Jared Allen overwhelmed Daryn Colledge and, to a lesser extent, rookie T.J. Lang, who replaced an injured Colledge in the fourth quarter, at left tackle. Allen had a personal-best 4.5 sacks, forced a fumble by Rodgers in the game-opening series and dropped the battered quarterback in the end zone for a safety. Right tackle Allen Barbre also struggled in pass protection against Ray Edwards and Brian Robison. Rodgers was guilty of holding onto the football on at least three of the sacks. His first interception of the season was poorly underthrown to Greg Jennings, who gave up position to Antoine Winfield along the sideline. The drops persisted for the receiving group. Donald Lee had the most egregious of the three, wide open in the front of the end zone on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1. Fellow tight end Jermichael Finley, on the other hand, finally made an impact in the passing game. His production of six receptions for 128 yards was highlighted by a 62-yard touchdown on which he flashed some breakaway speed down the middle of the field. Jordy Nelson's 33-yard touchdown late in the game also was of the catch-and-run variety.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D-minus
Ryan Grant didn't have many opportunities to run the football, thanks to unfavorable distances on early downs and the Packers falling behind by double digits early in the second half. Although Grant's per-carry average of 4.6 yards was a significant upgrade over his mark of 3.7 in the first three games, his final rushing numbers of 11 carries for 51 yards were padded by runs of 10 and 15 yards on delay draws out of shotgun formation with the Vikings' defense in prevent mode in the final quarter. Of Grant's nine other carries, only two went for more than 4 yards and three didn't pick up a yard. Grant also lacked the power to get past linebacker E.J. Henderson, who felled him a yard short of the goal line. On the next play, fullback John Kuhn was leveled by unblocked linebacker Chad Greenway for no gain on a quick handoff, giving the Vikings the momentum to complete their impressive goal-line stand in the next two snaps. Kuhn's holding penalty erased a 6-yard run by Grant early in the game.
PASS DEFENSE: F
Brett Favre never had it so easy in practice the last few years of his tenure with the Packers going against some of the same defensive guys he made look foolish Monday night. Had this game been played outside on a rain-soaked field, Favre's uniform probably would have stayed clean. He took only one hit from a nonexistent pass rush. That allowed Favre to pump fake at will in the pocket and put up exquisite passing numbers of 24-of-31 for 271 yards and three touchdowns without a miscue. As much as sticking it to Packers general manager Ted Thompson undoubtedly was on his mind, Favre drove a stake into a lax and communication-challenged secondary. Favre's favorite ex-teammate to pick on was cornerback Al Harris, who matched up with Bernard Berrian most of the game. Berrian was the target on 10 passes and caught six of them for 75 yards, burning Harris on a double move down the sideline for a 31-yard touchdown. Sidney Rice also caused problems downfield, particularly on third down. Linebacker Nick Barnett was caught in no man's land as tight end Visanthe Shiancoe peeled behind him in the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown.
RUSH DEFENSE: A
The defense saved face with its bang-up job on Adrian Peterson. The Packers held the widely considered No. 1 back in the sport to 55 yards in 25 carries for a measly per-rush average of 2.2 yards. The front seven was active and assertive in swarming to the football, often pinching Peterson from getting to the outside to turn the corner. A gang tackle on one of those outside runs enabled rookie Clay Matthews to rip the exposed ball out of Peterson's left arm and take it the other way for a 42-yard touchdown late in the first half. Fellow linebackers Nick Barnett (seven solo) and Brandon Chillar had 10 tackles apiece, and nose tackle Ryan Pickett was stout with seven tackles (six solo). Nineteen of Peterson's runs were for no more than 3 yards, and nine of them resulted in no gain or negative yards. The Packers were helpless in playing solid leverage on a couple of runs by the shifty Peterson, who bounced one out of heavy traffic for his long gain of 12 yards.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D
The Packers lost return specialist Will Blackmon to a season-ending knee injury in the second quarter. Replacement Jordy Nelson had a couple long kickoff returns, but both were nullified on holding penalties by Evan Dietrich-Smith and Spencer Havner, respectively. The punt coverage unit had missed tackles by Brad Jones and Finley to spring Jaymar Johnson for returns of 18 and 24 yards, costing Jeremy Kapinos considerable net average after his two punts grossed at 51 yards. Mason Crosby hit two superb pop-up kicks on onside tries late in the game, to no avail as Rice went high to snare both of them out of the air. Thanks to Crosby's deep kickoffs (one touchback), electric rookie Percy Harvin wasn't a factor with an average of 17.3 yards in three runbacks.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers was hell-bent on — and succeeded in — shutting down Peterson on the ground. However, that allowed Favre to exploit a porous pass defense, especially when Capers curiously relied on a lot of three-man rushes instead of blitzing like crazy on the 39-year-old Favre, who upped his record to 7-0 against Capers in the role of head coach or defensive coordinator. McCarthy's hands were tied once again in trying to get into a flow with the play calling on offense because of the gory breakdowns in pass protection. In hindsight, McCarthy should have kicked the field goal when things were unraveling in the goal-line sequence late in the third quarter with the Vikings ahead 28-14 — three points at that time might have come in handy for the late rally mounted by Green Bay. The Packers were undisciplined from the outset of the game, committing seven penalties for 57 yards, including an unnecessary 15-yard taunting call on Brandon Chillar as he stood over Peterson at the end of a short run.
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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 email@example.com, 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.