Player Grades for the Green Bay Packers' Week 13 Win over the Vikings
The Packers took another step towards the playoffs with a 23-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on Sunday. The Packers' win, combined with the Chicago Bears' loss to the Seahawks, moved the Packers back into first place in the NFC North division.
The Packers' Week 13 win was a team effort that took great efforts by all three phases of the team: offense, defense and special teams. While the win was by no means perfect, the team was able to pull together and find a way to win.
There were specific players that stepped up and led the Packers to victory this week. There were also those that may have hurt as much as they helped. Let's take a look at each member of the Packers team that saw significant playing time Sunday and see how they fared.
Backs and Receivers
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Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers was in MVP form on Sunday, leading the Packers offense on five scoring drives. Rodgers did an especially good job orchestrating the no-huddle offense on the first drive of the game that led to his only passing touchdown. Rodgers did an excellent job of keeping the Vikings off balance with the snap count. He was able to draw the Vikings line offsides four times in the game.
Rodgers' only real mistake might have been throwing into double coverage on a gadget play that led to an interception. However, his overall play overshadowed the mistake.
James Starks: Starks is beginning to show signs of his late 2010 form. Starks ran with great burst and power on Sunday while rushing for 66 yards and a touchdown and adding two catches for 16 yards. Starks did a great job of following his blockers and hitting the holes. If Starks can continue to run this way, the Packers can run a more balanced attack on offense heading into the playoffs.
Alex Green: If James Starks is the power back in the Packers offense, Alex Green is doing a great job of being the complementary speed back. Green showed quickness and ran very well north and south. Green managed to average almost five yards a carry, rushing for 58 yards on just 12 carries.
John Kuhn: John Kuhn did an excellent job in blitz pickup and helping chip pass-rushers on the right side of the line when Don Barclay came into the game for the injured T.J. Lang. Kuhn picked up a couple crucial first downs on catches out of the backfield. Kuhn's only downside may have been his ball carrying, although that may have had more to do with the offensive line than Kuhn's running.
Jermichael Finley: For the second week in a row, Finley played excellent in all parts of his game. He blocked well, ran good routes and had no dropped passes, failing to pull in just one of the seven balls thrown his way. Finley and Rodgers seem to be getting along just fine, talking and joking during and after the game. It seems at this point that they have put any problems behind them.
Tom Crabtree: Crabtree continues to be a reliable part of the offense, doing exactly what is asked of him week in and week out. Crabtree had a third-down reception on a very well-executed play and also was excellent in the run game.
Randall Cobb: Cobb continues to be the center of the Packers' offensive game plan, leading the team in receiving yards while catching all six of the passes thrown his way. Cobb made a key third-down catch for a 33-yard gain that put the Packers into field-goal range to seal the game.
Greg Jennings: Jennings returned to the field for the first time since Week 4 on Sunday. Jennings was involved more in the offense than what was probably expected due to Jordy Nelson going down with an injury. Jennings ended up leading the team in targets and tied for the lead in receptions. Jennings had two key receptions on drives that ultimately led to points.
James Jones: Jones continued to be the Packers touchdown machine on Sunday, making a spectacular catch for a touchdown in the first quarter. Jones also scored another touchdown that was waved off due to a holding call. Jones now has a team-high nine touchdown on the season.
Jordy Nelson: Nelson injured his hamstring making his only catch of the game in the first half and did not return to the game.
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Marshall Newhouse: Newhouse had the unfortunate task of having to stop Jared Allen in Sunday's game. Although he did perform better than the last time he faced Allen, Newhouse still allowed Allen to record one-and-a-half sacks on the day. Newhouse continues to struggle with sealing the edge against speed rushers.
Evan Dietrich-Smith: Dietrich-Smith had one of his worst games of the season on Sunday. Dietrich-Smith committed false start penalties, holding penalties, had trouble pass protecting and trouble with run blocking. He was by far the weakest part of the offensive line that included a rookie seeing his first significant action.
Jeff Saturday: Saturday's name was not mentioned once on Sunday, and that's just the way centers in the NFL like it. Saturday did a good job with the hard count, helping Rodgers to draw the Vikings offsides four times in the game. He also was consistent in his run and pass protection. Overall, a solid performance from the veteran.
Josh Sitton: Sitton continues to be the most consistent offensive lineman on the Packers squad. Sitton abused Vikings defenders on Sunday, not allowing so much as a pressure on Aaron Rodgers. Sitton also did an excellent job of getting down-field on running plays and blocking at the next level.
Don Barclay: Barclay saw his first significant action on Sunday when T.J. Lang went down with an ankle injury in the first half. Barclay did an excellent job of eating up defenders on running plays and bull rushes. Barclay struggled some sealing the edge on speed rushers. Considering the circumstances, Barclay played a great game and may have earned himself more playing time with the way he stepped in and rose to the occasion.
He was called for one holding penalty, but with more reps, Barclay could be a solid starter in the future.
T.J. Lang: Lang went down with an ankle injury in the first half and was not able to return.
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B.J. Raji: B.J. Raji is making more of an impact on defense with each passing week. Raji seems to be getting back to 100 percent health-wise and is becoming more disruptive at the line of scrimmage.
Ryan Pickett: Pickett continues to be the leader of the defensive line. Pickett moved well laterally at the line of scrimmage and was disruptive in the passing game.
Mike Neal: Mike Neal was disruptive along the edge. Although he was unable to record a sack, he did pressure Christian Ponder into rolling away from his side of the field
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A.J. Hawk: Hawk had a solid game on Sunday, leading the team in tackles with eight. Hawk did an excellent job of getting penetration at the LOS and disrupting plays.
Brad Jones: Jones played well in coverage; however, he struggled in the second half against the run. A missed gap assignment by Jones resulted in a big run by Adrian Peterson. Jones was able to disrupt the passing game with delayed blitzes in the second half; however, Jones lacks the speed to turn those pressures into sacks.
Dezmon Moses/ Erik Walden: These two outside linebackers had almost identical games on Sunday. Both struggled to shed blocks, over-pursued plays and failed to get any significant pressure on the quarterback. The outside linebacker position as the clear weakness of the defense this week.
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Tramon Williams: Williams had a solid game against the Vikings. Aside from an unnecessary roughness penalty, Tramon made no mistakes in coverage and did well in the man-to-man scheme the Packers ran most of the game.
Davon House: House played perhaps his best game of the season Sunday. The Vikings made it a point to go after House on the outside, and he held his own quite well, not allowing a reception until late in the game when the win was already well in hand.
Casey Hayward: Hayward continued his rookie campaign this week with another good game against the Vikings. Hayward contributed well in run support on the outside while also covering well in pass situations.
Morgan Burnett: Burnett came up huge for the defense on Sunday, recording two key interceptions while also racking up six tackles. Burnett did have two costly errors in run support that led to long runs by Adrian Peterson, one of which ended up going 82 yards for a touchdown. Although these two plays were unfortunate, the other plays that Burnett made throughout the game greatly outweighed these.
M.D. Jennings: Jennings had a bit of a rough day a the office Sunday, missing key tackles on long runs by Adrian Peterson. Jennings did do well to apply pressure on Ponder on a couple of plays.
Jerron Mcmillan: McMillan was not a significant factor in the game, although he did apply pressure on Ponder late in the game.
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Mason Crosby: For most kickers, making three out of four kicks would be an alright day. However, for Crosby, even making those kicks didn't do a whole lot to gain people's confidence in him. The 30-yard field goal he made bounced off the upright and in.
The other makes were pretty shaky looking, and the miss that Crosby had was way off. While the Packers were more than happy to have the field goals, I would not be surprised if they worked out other kickers this week.
Tim Masthay: Masthay had another solid game, allowing only one punt return yard on two returns and kicking one inside the 20.
D.J. Williams: Backup tight end D.J. Williams found a way to contribute Sunday by making a great tackle on punt coverage.
Randall Cobb: While Cobb excelled in the offensive attack on Sunday, he struggled in the return game. Cobb had three punt returns for just 11 yards, including one for negative-nine yards. Cobb did far too much dancing on his returns and failed to get up field.