Grading the game: Packers

Despite some promise from the quarterback position, the Vikings have a lot of areas to improve upon if they want to be consistently competitive in the future. There are no moral victories on this report card, only one real positive and several below-average marks.

PASSING OFFENSE: C-plus - For a rookie making his NFL debut, Christian Ponder showed enough signs to make one think he was worthy of the 12th overall pick. He completed only 13 of 32 passes, including a third quarter in which he went 0-for-5 with two interceptions, but he also brought life to a passing attack that was constipated under veteran Donovan McNabb. Bouncing back from the two third-quarter picks, Ponder led the team to 10 fourth-quarter points to make the game surprisingly competitive at the end. Ponder converted 5 of 7 third downs - all third-and-6 or longer – in the fourth quarter. He threw for four first downs and ran for one. Bottom line: He brings hope to a dismal 1-6 season.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A - This is what a playmaking quarterback can do to help a Vikings' offense built around Adrian Peterson. Ponder's 72-yard completion on the first snap of the game loosened up the Packers' defense and gave Peterson room to run. Ponder's mobility and speed also kept the Packers from stacking the line of scrimmage. Peterson ran for 175 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries (7.3). Ponder ran for 31 yards on four carries (7.8), including a 12-yard run against a six-man rush on third-and-7 in the fourth quarter.

PASS DEFENSE: F - Like a lot of teams, the Vikings were surgically dissected by Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers. It also didn't help that the Vikings lost sight of Greg Jennings running all alone down the right sideline early in the third quarter. Rodgers hit Jennings, who jogged the last 40 yards on a 79-yard touchdown that erased a 17-13 Minnesota lead and sparked the Packers' 20-0 third-quarter run. Rodgers completed his 13 passes fairly easily. His 14th pass was a drop. He completed 24 of 30 passes for 335 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Two of his incompletions were drops. One was a spike to stop the clock.

RUSH DEFENSE: F - The Vikings punted the ball with 2:37 left and trailing by six points. They had all three timeouts and the two-minute warning left. They never got the ball back, and it wasn't because of Rodgers' passing. The Vikings' once-proud run defense was gashed by James Starks and the Packers' 24th-ranked running game for 15 yards on first-and-10, 20 yards on second-and-11 and the final dagger, a 13-yard run on third-and-7 with 1:17 left.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D - Punter Chris Kluwe's net average on four punts was 29.8 in part because the coverage team allowed Randall Cobb to return one of them 42 yards to the Vikings' 32-yard line. That set up a touchdown drive that gave the Packers a 10-point lead during a horrendous third quarter for the Vikings. Also, it was another head-scratching game for punt returner Marcus Sherels. He fielded yet another punt inside his 8-yard line despite being told specifically and repeatedly to stop doing it. It was the third time he's done it this season. He returned the ball 10 yards, but a penalty moved the ball back to the Vikings' 4. Later, he showed he's essentially freaked out by having to make decisions near the goal line when he allowed a fourth-quarter punt to roll past the 10-yard line and be downed at the Vikings' 2.

COACHING: C - No one thought the Vikings would give the Packers a competitive game. Not with a rookie starting at quarterback. Heck, even Packers coach Mike McCarthy had to be thinking that because he won the coin toss and deferred. On the road, too. The Vikings' coaching staff, however, was ready with a play that shocked a Packers defense looking to stop Peterson on the first play. Instead, Ponder rolled to his left, away from his throwing arm, and hit a wide-open Michael Jenkins, who made a double move, for 72 yards to the 1-yard line. Coach Leslie Frazier took a lot of heat for punting the ball with 2:37 left and trailing by six points. But the call made sense. With the ball at the Vikings' 36, the Packers were already in field-goal range, considering Mason Crosby made a 58-yarder earlier in the game. The Vikings also had all three timeouts and the two-minute warning left. Frazier knew the Packers would run the ball to try and kill the clock. What he didn't know is his run defense would crumble and allow 55 yards and three first downs on six straight runs.


Viking Update Top Stories

\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" For a rookie making his NFL debut, Christian Ponder showed enough signs to make one think he was worthy of the 12th overall pick. He completed only 13 of 32 passes, including a third quarter in which he went 0-for-5 with two interceptions, but he also brought life to a passing attack that was constipated under veteran Donovan McNabb. Bouncing back from the two third-quarter picks, Ponder led the team to 10 fourth-quarter points to make the game surprisingly competitive at the end. Ponder converted 5 of 7 third downs - all third-and-6 or longer – in the fourth quarter. He threw for four first downs and ran for one. Bottom line: He brings hope to a dismal 1-6 season. This is what a playmaking quarterback can do to help a Vikings' offense built around Adrian Peterson. Ponder's 72-yard completion on the first snap of the game loosened up the Packers' defense and gave Peterson room to run. Ponder's mobility and speed also kept the Packers from stacking the line of scrimmage. Peterson ran for 175 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries (7.3). Ponder ran for 31 yards on four carries (7.8), including a 12-yard run against a six-man rush on third-and-7 in the fourth quarter. Like a lot of teams, the Vikings were surgically dissected by Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers. It also didn't help that the Vikings lost sight of Greg Jennings running all alone down the right sideline early in the third quarter. Rodgers hit Jennings, who jogged the last 40 yards on a 79-yard touchdown that erased a 17-13 Minnesota lead and sparked the Packers' 20-0 third-quarter run. Rodgers completed his 13 passes fairly easily. His 14th pass was a drop. He completed 24 of 30 passes for 335 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Two of his incompletions were drops. One was a spike to stop the clock. The Vikings punted the ball with 2:37 left and trailing by six points. They had all three timeouts and the two-minute warning left. They never got the ball back, and it wasn't because of Rodgers' passing. The Vikings' once-proud run defense was gashed by James Starks and the Packers' 24th-ranked running game for 15 yards on first-and-10, 20 yards on second-and-11 and the final dagger, a 13-yard run on third-and-7 with 1:17 left. Punter Chris Kluwe's net average on four punts was 29.8 in part because the coverage team allowed Randall Cobb to return one of them 42 yards to the Vikings' 32-yard line. That set up a touchdown drive that gave the Packers a 10-point lead during a horrendous third quarter for the Vikings. Also, it was another head-scratching game for punt returner Marcus Sherels. He fielded yet another punt inside his 8-yard line despite being told specifically and repeatedly to stop doing it. It was the third time he's done it this season. He returned the ball 10 yards, but a penalty moved the ball back to the Vikings' 4. Later, he showed he's essentially freaked out by having to make decisions near the goal line when he allowed a fourth-quarter punt to roll past the 10-yard line and be downed at the Vikings' 2. No one thought the Vikings would give the Packers a competitive game. Not with a rookie starting at quarterback. Heck, even Packers coach Mike McCarthy had to be thinking that because he won the coin toss and deferred. On the road, too. The Vikings' coaching staff, however, was ready with a play that shocked a Packers defense looking to stop Peterson on the first play. Instead, Ponder rolled to his left, away from his throwing arm, and hit a wide-open Michael Jenkins, who made a double move, for 72 yards to the 1-yard line. Coach Leslie Frazier took a lot of heat for punting the ball with 2:37 left and trailing by six points. But the call made sense. With the ball at the Vikings' 36, the Packers were already in field-goal range, considering Mason Crosby made a 58-yarder earlier in the game. The Vikings also had all three timeouts and the two-minute warning left. Frazier knew the Packers would run the ball to try and kill the clock. What he didn't know is his run defense would crumble and allow 55 yards and three first downs on six straight runs. 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