Vikings vs. Packers: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Minnesota

Tim ArcandCorrespondent INovember 24, 2013

Vikings vs. Packers: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Minnesota

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    Christian Ponder and the Minnesota Vikings had their chances to win their third game of the season.
    Christian Ponder and the Minnesota Vikings had their chances to win their third game of the season.Tom Lynn/Getty Images

    The Minnesota Vikings came up just a bit short against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday when they battled to a 26-26 tie.

    Normally this would be quite an accomplishment, especially if Aaron Rodgers were at the helm of the Packer's offense. 

    Instead, this one slipped away from the Vikings after they built a 23-7 lead early in the fourth quarter. The defense held the Packers scoreless in the second and third quarters, only to allow 16 points in the fourth to force overtime. 

    Facing a do-or-die situation in overtime, after allowing the Packers to kick a field goal, the Vikings had a chance to win the game. Facing a 3rd-and-14 on the Packers' 17-yard line, Christian Ponder made a great throw to Cordarrelle Patterson in the back of the end zone. Unfortunately, the ball slipped through Patterson's hands and the Vikings had to settle for a field goal to tie the game.

    Even though the Packers started the game with Scott Tolzien, their third-string quarterback, the Vikings offense was facing a Packers defense ranked 18th overall and 13th against the run.

    Unfortunately, the tie keeps the Vikings, and head coach Leslie Frazier, in the running for one of the worst seasons in franchise history. In 1962, only their second year in the NFL, the Vikings finished with only two wins—the fewest in the history of the Minnesota franchise.

    There were some great performances from the Vikings in a tying effort. Since it was not a loss, that means there can be some slightly higher grades.

    Of course, after surrendering a 16-point lead, there will be some clunkers of grades as well.

Quarterbacks

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Christian Ponder: B

    If you consider passer rating the measuring stick for a quarterback, then this wasn't Ponder's best game. His best game came against the Redskins, when he had a 113.1 passer rating. He led the Vikings to a win in that game, as they scored 34 points. He also had an interception, and that game was at home. 

    Sometimes the passer-rating calculation doesn't tell the whole story. 

    Ponder looked very good playing in Green Bay on a day when the temperature didn't get above freezing. 

    He finished 21-of-30 for 233 yards and a touchdown and led the Vikings to 26 points. His passer rating was a very good 103.9.

    One play could have pushed his passer rating to 120.1. If Cordarrelle Patterson caught a 17-yard pass in the end zone for a touchdown, instead of having it slip through his hands, then Ponder would've had the best rating since his game against the Packers in Week 17 of last season. In that game, he completed 16-of-28 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns. His passer rating was 120.2.

    The grade is a little lower because Ponder had a couple of passes where he completely missed some wide-open receivers.

Running Backs

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    Adrian Peterson: B+

    Peterson finished with 146 yards on 32 carries. Both are season highs for Peterson, who came into the game nursing a sore groin. He was limited to only one touchdown and a 4.6-yard average, which brings the grade down a bit. He also had a fumble in the second quarter after he was tackled by A.J. Hawk.

     

    Toby Gerhart: A

    Gerhart only got eight carries in this game, but he made the most of them. They came in the second half and the overtime after Peterson wore down the Packers' defense. Gerhart finished with 91 yards. He had a Peterson-like average of 11.4 yards per carry.

     

    Overall grade: A-

    The Vikings could have used another touchdown from the running backs.

Wide Receivers

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Greg Jennings: C-

    This was a return to the place where Jennings played seven seasons. He should have been pumped for this game, but he finished with only two catches for 29 yards. He dropped a third-down pass in overtime that forced the Vikings to punt. 

     

    Jerome Simpson: C+

    Simpson only had two catches in the game, though he was targeted four times, but they resulted in 54 yards to lead the Vikings.  

     

    Jarius Wright: D

    Wright dropped the only pass thrown in his direction for the game. It came on the Vikings' final drive of regulation, with the Vikings on their 41-yard line and less than a minute left.

     

    Cordarrelle Patterson: B

    Patterson led the Vikings with eight receptions, but they were for only 54 yards. That's only an average of 6.8 yards per catch. It's good to see more of Patterson in the lineup.

     

    Joe Webb: Incomplete

    According to Leslie Frazier, in his postgame press conference (via Vikings.com), Webb suffered a concussion in the game.   

     

    Overall grade: C+

    The unit combined for only 137 yards on 12 receptions and no touchdowns. 

Tight Ends

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    John Carlson: B-

    After catching 12 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown the last two games, it was a disappointment to see Carlson only catch three passes. He had a very good average of 12.0 yards per catch.  

     

    Chase Ford: C

    Ford finished with one catch for 20 yards. It's his third straight game with a reception.

     

    Rhett Ellison: C

    Ellison made his first two catches of the season for 26 yards against the Packers. Since he's typically used as a blocking back, any production from Ellison is a plus.

     

    Overall grade: C+

    After two very good games from Carlson, the expectations are getting a little higher for this unit, even without Kyle Rudolph.

Offensive Line

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    Run Blocking: A-

    The offensive line, intact again after missing Phil Loadholt last week, did a great job run blocking. The Vikings finished with 232 net rushing yards but only 5.4 yards per rushing attempt and one touchdown.

     

    Pass Protection: C+

    Quarterback Christian Ponder was sacked six times and hit seven times.  Not all of the blame for the sacks can be pinned on the offensive line; Ponder took too much time on some plays. 

     

    Overall grade: B

Defensive Line

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Jared Allen: C

    Allen finished with five tackles, one for a loss and one pass batted down. He did not register a sack in the game.

     

    Kevin Williams: C+

    Williams batted down two passes at the line of scrimmage and finished with three tackles.

     

    Letroy Guion: D+

    Guion looked silly on Scott Tolzien's scramble for a touchdown. He did not come up with a tackle in the game. He did bat down one pass at the line of scrimmage.

      

    Brian Robison: C+

    Robison finished with four tackles, one tackle for a loss and a sack. He also got two hits on the Green Bay quarterbacks.

     

    Everson Griffen: D-

    Griffen had a very quiet game with two tackles and a quarterback hit. His encroachment penalty on a 4th-and-6 with 1:17 left in regulation allowed Matt Flynn to take a chance on a free play to throw deep. Flynn connected on a 28-yard pass to James Jones that gave the Packers the ball on the Vikings' 12-yard line. The defense would hold and only allow a game-tying field goal.  

     

    Fred Evans: Incomplete 

    Evans wasn't inactive, but he wasn't active either, with nothing showing up on the stat sheet

     

    Sharrif Floyd: D

    A single tackle for the Vikings' top draft pick. Floyd has been far too quiet this season with only 10 tackles in 11 games.    

     

    Overall grade: C-

    The line did a very good job of knocking down four passes at the line of scrimmage, but they only had one sack among them.

Linebackers

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    Chad Greenway: C+

    Greenway had another steady game with nine tackles, but we have come to expect a little more from him. He did not have a tackle for a loss, and his only sack was negated on a penalty.

     

    Audie Cole: A

    After being released earlier in November, I didn't expect a lot from the second-year linebacker. Cole finished with a team-high 13 tackles, two of them for a loss. He also had one of two sacks for the Vikings and three quarterback hits as he filled in for Erin Henderson.

     

    Marvin Mitchell: C-

    It was another quiet game for Mitchell. He finished with five tackles.

      

    Michael Mauti: Incomplete

    Mauti was limited due to a knee injury. He only recorded one tackle in the game.

      

    Overall grade: C+

    The defense did allow the Packers to score 16 fourth-quarter points to tie the game. 

Cornerbacks

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Chris Cook: D

    It seems when the Vikings need a big play, Cook usually comes up a little short. He finished with eight tackles in the game and no passes defensed. In overtime, he gave up a 34-yard catch to Jarrett Boykin that gave the Packers the ball on the 7-yard line.

      

    Xavier Rhodes: A-

    Rhodes led the Vikings with four passes broken up, including a pass intended for James Jones in the end zone. A concussion took him out of the game late in the second half. The Vikings missed his presence as he was getting the start in place of Josh Robinson.

      

    Marcus Sherels: D+

    Sherels finished with five tackles in the game. He seemed to be chasing after the receivers instead of defending the pass. He was called for pass interference early in the fourth quarter, which gave the Packers the ball on the Vikings' 15-yard line. He also gave up a 28-yard completion to James Jones on a 4th-and-6 with 1:17 left in the game, which gave the Packers the ball on the 12-yard line. 

     

    A.J. Jefferson: Incomplete

    A neck injury limited his participation in the game.

     

    Overall grade: C

    The four passes defended by Rhodes was great to see. Hopefully his concussion is not serious and he will be back next week.

Safeties

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Jamarca Sanford: C+

    Sanford finished with six tackles and one pass defensed. None of his tackles came behind the line of scrimmage. 

     

    Andrew Sendejo: C

    Sendejo only had five tackles in the game with none of them resulting in a loss.  

     

    Robert Blanton: D+

    Blanton had to play more because the Vikings were short on cornerbacks with the injuries to Xavier Rhodes and A.J. Jefferson. He finished with five tackles, but he also was called for two defensive holding penalties. The first negated a sack by Chad Greenway on a 3rd-and-9 for the Packers on the opening drive of overtime.

       

    Overall grade: C

    The Vikings really miss the leadership of Harrison Smith at safety. 

Specialists

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    Blair Walsh: A

    Walsh made all four of his field-goal attempts with a long of 47 yards. He finished with 14 points. Only three of his seven kickoffs were returned for an average of 21.0 yards.

     

    Jeff Locke: B+

    Locke averaged 42.8 yards on six punts. He placed three of them inside the 20-yard line. Micah Hyde only had eight yards on three punt returns for the Packers. 

     

    Cordarrelle Patterson: A-

    Patterson had four kick returns for 126 yards with a long of 57 yards. 

     

    Marcus Sherels: C-

    Sherels had two punt returns for no yards. He muffed the first punt he fielded and was able to fall on the ball. He also made three fair catches and allowed two balls to be downed inside the 5-yard line.

     

    Overall grade: A-