Packers vs. Vikings: Green Bay's Biggest Winners and Losers from Week 13
Who was the biggest winner of Sunday's game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field? Well, the Packers won in more ways than one, in their hard fought 23-14 victory over the Vikings.
For one, they won another divisional game, which now gives the Packers a perfect 3-0 record in the NFC North.
Secondly, the Chicago Bears lost 23-17 to the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field on Sunday as well. The loss gives the Packers the NFC North lead, as they have a better divisional record than the Bears (2-1), even though both teams have a 8-4 record.
Plus, the Packers also beat da Bears 23-10 earlier in the season at Lambeau Field.
The two teams face each other again at Soldier Field in two weeks.
In terms of the game between the Vikings and Packers, I've listed some winners and the losers for the Packers in Sunday's contest.
Winner: Time of Possession
The Packers held the ball for 38:30 minutes during the game. On top of that, the Packers held the ball for 11 minutes in the fourth quarter on a drive that spanned 18 plays and covered 73 yards.
That drive only led to a field goal, but the kick made the contest a two-possession game.
One of the reasons that the Packers held the ball so long, was their ability to convert third down plays. The Packers converted 9-of-16 third down plays in the game.
Another reason was the running attack of the Packers. James Starks rushed 66 yards and a touchdown (only the third rushing touchdown of the season for the Packers), while Alex Green ran for 58 more yards.
Loser: More Injuries
Going into the game against the Vikings, the Packers have had to place nine players on injured reserve this season. In addition to that, the Packers had to keep offensive tackle Derek Sherrod on the PUP list (Physically Unable to Perform) for the remainder of the season.
The IR list includes running back Cedric Benson, linebacker Desmond Bishop, offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, linebacker Nick Perry, linebacker D.J. Smith, running back Brandon Saine, defensive lineman Johnny Jones, tight end Andrew Quarless and safety Sean Richardson.
The Packers also have players such as outside linebacker Clay Matthews, safety Charles Woodson and cornerback Sam Shields still on the sidelines, nursing injuries.
The last thing the Packers needed in this game was more injuries.
Unfortunately, the Packers suffered two more.
Left tackle T.J. Lang went down with an ankle injury that forced him out of the game. Head coach Mike McCarthy said the injury didn't appear to be serious.
The Packers also lost wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who suffered a hamstring injury (second time this season). Hamstrings are tricky, just ask Matthews, who has missed three games so far after suffering a hamstring injury.
Winner: Morgan Burnett
Safety Morgan Burnett had a huge game against the Vikings, as he intercepted two passes, plus added seven tackles.
The first interception that Burnett made occurred in the Packers' end zone as the Vikings were driving for another score early in the second half. The Vikings were leading 14-10 at the time, and another touchdown would have really put the Packers in a hole.
That interception led to a 47-yard field goal by Mason Crosby.
After Burnett's second pick, the Packers used 11 minutes on the clock on an 18-play drive that led to a Crosby 31-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that basically put away the game.
Loser: Couldn't Stop Adrian Peterson
Running back Adrian Peterson gained 210 yards on 21 carries versus the Packers on Sunday. That's a 10-yard rushing average folks. Wow!
Peterson scored on an 82-yard touchdown run to give the Vikings a 14-10 lead.
Another long run (48 yards) by Peterson took the ball to the Green Bay 12, but fortunately for the Packers, quarterback Christian Ponder threw an interception to safety Morgan Burnett.
Luckily, the Packers kept Peterson off the field most of the game, as the Packers held the ball for 38:30 minutes.
Winner: Don Barclay
After right tackle T.J. Lang went down with an ankle injury, the Packers were forced to put in rookie Don Barclay in his place. And guess what? Barclay did just fine.
I've had my eye on Barclay for quite awhile.
I had the Green Bay Packers selecting Barclay in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL draft in my final mock draft, and then later had him listed as a possible candidate to get signed by the Pack as an undrafted rookie.
I then predicted that Barclay would make the roster in late August and Barclay did indeed make the team.
Barclay had some initial problems on Sunday, but overall played very well. The Packers ran behind the right side of the offensive line most of the time against the Vikings.
I also agree with Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, when he wrote that the Packers should put Barclay at right tackle and move T.J. Lang back to left guard.
Don't be surprised if that doesn't happen in the near future.
Loser: Evan Dietrich-Smith
Left guard Evan Dietrich-Smith did not have the best of games against the Vikings on Sunday. He and left tackle Marshall Newhouse struggled against the right side of the defensive line of the Vikings most of the game.
In both pass blocking and run blocking.
Dietrich-Smith also committed two penalties, a holding call and a false start.
That's not to say Dietrich-Smith is not a valuable member of the offensive line, as he has filled in admirably at times, both last season and this season. Dietrich-Smith can play both guard positions, plus play center.
That's good versatility. And it's a great role for him, as a key back up.
Based on how right tackle Don Barclay performed on Sunday, and as soon as T.J. Lang's ankle injury is resolved, the Packers should strongly consider putting Lang back at his best position (left guard), putting Barclay at right tackle, and putting Dietrich-Smith back in his role as an important reserve.
It would make the offensive line better as a whole.
Winner: Mason Crosby
Kicker Mason Crosby started out the game on Sunday trying to make my list of losers.
In the first quarter, Crosby barely made a 30-yard field goal, as his kick hit the left upright before deflecting through. Then, Crosby missed badly on a 53-yard attempt just before halftime. Then to open the second half, Crosby's kickoff went out of bounds.
Not a good start at all. The vultures were starting to circle.
But then head coach Mike McCarthy decided to let Crosby attempt a 47-yard field goal in the third quarter, after first keeping the offense on the field before a Minnesota timeout, and guess what? Crosby nailed the kick.
Crosby also hit a 31-yard kick in the fourth quarter to seal the game for the Packers.
Loser: The Holding Calls
The Packers committed five holding calls on Sunday, and one was especially huge. It occurred when quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver James Jones.
holding call against right tackle T.J. Lang nullified the touchdown and the Packers were forced to settle for a field goal.
There were also holding calls against left tackle Marshall Newhouse, left guard Evan Dietrich-Smith, right tackle Don Barclay and fullback John Kuhn.
Holding is understandable at times. Especially when one is trying to protect a valuable asset like Rodgers.
But most holding calls are because the player uses incorrect technique in his footwork, balance and hand placement.
Sometimes there are phantom calls by the refs too, when it doesn't appear that the player actually held.
I believe that was the case on the Lang holding call.
Winner: Greg Jennings
Wide receiver Greg Jennings finally returned to the lineup of the Packers after missing most of the season due to an abdominal injury. Jennings had minor surgery about a month ago to rectify the situation.
Jennings didn't have eye-opening stats on Sunday, as he had four receptions for 46 yards, but just being on the field is a big plus for the Packers.
Jennings also had a eight-yard reception on a 3rd-and-8 play in the fourth quarter.
Especially now that wide Jordy Nelson may miss some additional time with a tweak of an earlier hamstring injury.
Jennings is the No.1 option for quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the passing offense of the Packers, and his track record proves it.
Jennings has 50 career touchdown receptions and also has caught five more in the playoffs, including two in Super Bowl XLV.
The offense is only that much more dangerous when Jennings is on the field, along with other great weapons Rodgers has at his disposal.
Winner: The Pass Defense
The defense of the Packers didn't do a very good job containing running back Adrian Peterson (201 yards rushing and one touchdown), but the defense of the Packers did a phenomenal job in pass defense.
The Packers only allowed quarterback Christian Ponder to throw for 119 yards. Plus, Ponder was picked off twice by safety Morgan Burnett.
Of Ponder's 12 completions, only three went to wide receivers.
Four times the Packers ended Viking drives when they forced a Ponder incomplete pass on 3rd-down.
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