Notebook: The Ugly Truths

You thought watching the game was ugly? The stats throughout the Vikings' 9-7 loss tell a brutally honest story about how bad this Vikings offense has become. We dissect the carnage with 43 game-day notes.

If Don Meredith was still commentating on football games, he would undoubtedly have broken into a verse of "Dim all the lights, the party's over" after Dave Rayner hit a 44-yard field goal with 1:34 to play to give the Packers a 9-7 win. Why? Because unless the Vikings brought the kickoff back for a touchdown or at least into field goal range, there was no reason to believe the Vikings could move the ball on offense to get into field goal range.

While Brad Johnson was booed off the field at the Metrodome, the Tarvaris Jackson era didn't get off to anything short of a hideous start. He completed 10 of 20 passes for 50 yards – one of the worst passing totals in team history. When combined with the 23 yards lost on sacks, the Vikings finished with just 27 yards passing – just 6 yards short of the franchise low of 21 yards set twice in 1971 against Detroit and Green Bay.

To complicate matters, if the Vikings were to get into position to kick a game-winning field goal at the end of the game, they likely would have needed to convert three first downs. That would have matched their total for the game. The Vikings ended the game with just three first downs – setting a new franchise low from the five first downs they had in the 1971 game with the Packers in which they had the fewest passing yards.

While the Vikings are confident that Jackson has a bright future ahead of him, his debut as a starter won't be one anyone will want to remember. With the loss, the Vikings are realistically eliminated from post-season contention and will have to start looking to the future. Maybe it wasn't all Brad Johnson after all.

GAME NOTES

  • The final numbers couldn't get much uglier than they were Thursday night. The Packers outgained the Vikings 319-104, ran 76 plays to the Vikings' 45 and out-passed the Vikings 273-27.

  • Through 13 games, the Vikings led the NFL in time of possession. In the last two games, they have had the ball for 48 minutes and 55 seconds, while their opponents have held the ball for 71:05.

  • The Vikings run defense continued on its record pace Thursday night, limiting the Packers to just 46 yards rushing on 24 carries. For the season, the Vikings have allowed just 817 yards on 312 carries – an average of just 2.6 yards a rush. Unless the Rams rush for 163 yards or more next week, the Vikings will set the modern-day record for least rushing yards allowed in a season.

  • Today is Dec. 22. Since Oct. 22, the Vikings have won just two games – against the Cardinals and the Lions.

  • Thursday's loss was the fourth loss of the season in which the Vikings allowed less than 20 points and the second loss in which they allowed less than 10.

  • The Vikings' problems are clearly on offense. In 15 games, they have scored 20 points or less in 11 of them and have 13 or less in six games.

  • Brett Favre finished the game with 26 completions on 51 attempts for 285 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. The last completion of the game was the 5,000th of his career. Ahman Green was the Packers leading rusher with just 42 yards on 18 carries and Donald Driver was the team's leading receiver with nine catches for 99 yards.

  • Chester Taylor did most of the running Thursday, carrying 15 times for 49 yards. He also led the team with three receptions for 18 yards.

  • The longest completion of the game was 12 yards to Mewelde Moore on a third-and-19 dumpoff pass that the Packers allowed the Vikings to take.

  • Marcus Robinson was active for the game but didn't have a reception. Neither did Billy McMullen. Travis Taylor and Troy Williamson each had one catch for a combined 10 yards. Williamson's went for 1 yard on a third-down route that was closer to the line of scrimmage than first-down sticks.

  • Dwight Smith was the team's leading tackler with 11 tackles (nine solos), followed by E.J. Henderson with 10 and Antoine Winfield with eight. For the Packers, Aaron Kampman had seven tackles and three sacks.

  • The Vikings are the most penalized team in the NFL and added 10 more penalties to that total, as opposed to just four for the Packers.

  • The Vikings converted on just 2 of 14 third-down conversions. Green Bay converted 7 of 19 third downs.

  • The Packers were 0-for-3 in the red zone, while the Vikings didn't get into the red zone once. Their deepest penetration was the Packers' 33-yard line. It was the only time the offense crossed midfield the entire game, and that was due to the drive starting on the Green Bay 48.

  • The Vikings had 12 offensive drives in the game and nine of them failed to pick up a first down. Of those 12 drives, only two of them lasted longer than three minutes of running time on the game clock with a long of 3:45 in the fourth quarter. In contrast, the Packers had just two three-and-out drives.

  • Napoleon Harris went from goat to potential hero in the fourth quarter. With the Packers stopped on the Vikings 24 with 10 minutes to play, Harris was called for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Favre. But, three plays later, he caused tight end Bubba Franks to fumble on the 1-yard line to turn the ball over to the Vikings.

  • Packers cornerback Charles Woodson was injured in the second half and rookie wide receiver Greg Jennings had to be inserted to return punts.

  • Favre was as ugly as ugly could be in the third quarter, completing just one of nine passes for 12 yards and two interceptions.

  • Favre threw interceptions on two consecutive passes. When Green Bay's offense returned to the field after his second interception, the Packers ran five straight times.

  • Through three quarters, the Packers had run 60 offensive plays, while the Vikings had just 30 plays.

  • The Vikings' only points came on a Fred Smoot interception return for a touchdown – the sixth defensive touchdown of the season – just three fewer touchdowns than the Vikings quarterbacks have thrown this year.

  • After scoring his TD, Smoot tried to do a Lambeau Leap, but Packers fans pushed him back onto the field and then showered him with beer as he celebrated.

  • Jackson only had 50 yards passing all night, but had a 43-yard completion to Travis Taylor in the third quarter brought back because of an illegal shift penalty.

  • The Vikings got hit with a trio of stupid penalties that shouldn't happen this late in the season with a playoff spot on the line. The team was called for a pair of illegal shifts on offense and had 12 men on the field on defense.

  • Chester Taylor had 15 yards rushing on the first four plays of the second half, just five yards fewer than he gained the entire first half.

  • The Vikings didn't convert a third down until 11:30 remained in the third quarter. They would only have one more after that.

  • If you took away penalty yards assessed the Vikings in the first half, they had a total of minus-2 yards – they gained 38 on offense, but were penalized 40.

  • Donald Driver was injured early in the third quarter. In the second half, he caught just three passes for 21 yards after a big first half in which he caught six passes for 78 yards and had two more catches negated because the Vikings committed penalties that gave Green Bay a pair of automatic first downs.

  • Darren Sharper had a pick late in the third quarter, but dropped a potential interception at the Green Bay 25-yard line that hit him in the chest.

  • In the first half, the Packers outgained the Vikings 194-38 – holding a 31-21 edge in rushing and a 163-17 advantage passing. The Packers had 14 first downs to just one for the Vikings, held the ball for 18:24 to 11:36 for Minnesota, had just one penalty for 10 yards to seven for 40 for the Vikings and converted four of 10 third downs, while the Vikings were 0-for-6.

  • Individually, Favre completed 18 of 33 passes in the first half for 175 yards, while Green carried eight times for 31 yards and Driver caught six passes for 78 yards. For the Vikings, Jackson was 6 of 11 passing for just 34 yards, Chester Taylor had six carries for 20 yards and Bethel Johnson led all Vikings receivers with two catches for eight yards.

  • Of Green Bay's first 31 plays from scrimmage, 25 were passes and just six were runs.

  • The Packers didn't get called for a penalty until nine minutes remained in the first half. By that time, the Vikings had been called for six penalties and had a seventh penalty declined.

  • In the game's first 19 minutes, the Packers got into the Vikings' red zone three times and came away with just three points, as Rayner slipped on one field goal attempt and hit the left upright on another.

  • Despite being a sure Hall of Famer, Favre has just six touchdowns in the last seven games and two in the last three.

  • Another defensive near-miss for the Vikings came early in the second quarter. Franks had another key fumble that appeared to be recovered by Harris on the Packers sideline. Instead, his right foot was out of bounds by no more than an inch, allowing the Packers to keep the ball at midfield.

  • In the first quarter, Jackson completed 3 of 5 passes for just 14 yards, while Taylor had six carries for 19 yards. In the entire second quarter, Taylor had just one rush for one yard, because the Vikings held the ball for just 5:07 of the quarter. Favre completed five of 11 passes in the quarter for 77 yards – three of them for 38 yards to Driver. Green ran five times for 21 yards. In the final three quarters he would also rush for 21 yards, but that came on 13 carries.

  • The offensive problems weren't all Jackson's fault. Aside from the 43-yard completion to Travis Taylor that was brought back by penalty, he threw a perfect bomb deep downfield in the first quarter that was dropped by Troy Williamson. He would finish the game with one catch for one yard.

  • The Packers sent the message early that they were going to employ the same tactics other Vikings opponents have used – abandon the run and pass often. Of their first eight offensive plays, seven of them were passes.

  • Smoot got the start Thursday because Cedric Griffin was de-activated with a neck injury. Smoot's touchdown was the first of his career.

  • Although the Packers have a legend about cold December games, the tundra wasn't frozen. The gametime temperature was 36 degrees, prompting Al Gore and other global warming activists to get more ammunition for their argument.

  • The referee uniforms have gone through quite an overhaul. Aside from the new designs to match those of recent changes to many team uniforms, the officials appeared to be wearing something that looked like basketball warmup pants Thursday night.

  • While there's joy in Packerville right now, it may not last too long. Since going to a 32-team league, 59 teams have started the season 6-8. Of those, just two have made the playoffs.

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