Vikings vs. Packers: Takeaways from Green Bay's 26-26 Tie to Minnesota
In one of the most interesting games of the season, the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers matchup ended in a tie Sunday. That means the Packers go to 5-5-1 on the season and the Vikings are 2-8-1.
The Vikings had the lead for the majority of the game. However, a switch from quarterback Scott Tolzien to Matt Flynn was the spark that Green Bay needed to make a late run. He led three scoring drives in the fourth quarter to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Both teams added a field goal in the extra period, but neither wasn't able to get the final score to end the game. Let's look at some takeaways from the Packers' tie to Minnesota.
*All statistics courtesy of NFL.com.
Should the Packers Have Put Matt Flynn in Earlier?
Seriously, what's the score of this matchup if quarterback Matt Flynn played the entire game? 35-23?
Quarterback Scott Tolzien was unable to get the offense going for the majority of the game. He completed only seven of his 17 attempts for a pedestrian 98 yards. He did add an impressive six-yard touchdown run, but that came in the first quarter and was really the only big play Tolzien made all day.
When the Green Bay Packers switched to Flynn, the game got interesting. He put together three scoring drives that totaled 16 points to push the game into overtime. Flynn finished the game with 218 yards and a touchdown.
Should the Packers Wait on Bringing Back Aaron Rodgers?
We're going to talk about quarterback Matt Flynn for just a second longer because his performance deserves a little more time.
With Flynn playing like he did against the Minnesota Vikings, the Green Bay Packers now have an interesting decision to make: Should they push Aaron Rodgers back with how well Flynn looked?
With the biggest matchup of the season coming up on Thursday against the Detroit Lions, the Packers simply can't afford a loss. What the decision will ultimately come down to is whether the coaching staff in Green Bay feels Flynn can lead them to victory.
What we saw on Sunday from Flynn should be enough to give the Packers enough confidence for Week 13. Head coach Mike McCarthy said the Packers will do what's in the best interest of their team for Thursday, according to via Drew Olson of ESPN, in regards to the quarterback situation.
Unless Rodgers is absolutely, positively 100 percent for Thanksgiving Day, the Packers should start Flynn against Detroit.
Eddie Lacy Got Back on Track
It's been a few tough weeks for rookie running back Eddie Lacy. However, he got things back on track in a big way against the Minnesota Vikings.
Lacy finished the game with 110 rushing yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. He also added a whopping six receptions and 48 yards as a receiver out of the backfield.
What was most impressive about Lacy in this game was the way he played. Rarely did he go down after first contact, as he broke a large number of tackles and picked up chunks of yards after the initial hit.
With Lacy running with as much passion as he did in this game, the Green Bay Packers should be able to stay in games with or without quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Where Did Jordy Nelson Go?
Wide receiver Jordy Nelson started the game out just fine. He had another amazing reception early in the first quarter that went for 34 yards. That catch was the type of catch that we've come to expect from Nelson on a game-by-game basis.
However, Nelson only managed one other reception for the rest of regulation for two yards. Sure, he added two receptions and 22 yards in overtime, but that still isn't enough for Nelson and the Green Bay Packers offense.
There are only a handful of receivers more talented than Nelson in the league. With backup quarterbacks playing, the Packers need to figure out how to get Nelson more involved in the offense. He's simply too talented to finish a game with only four receptions and 58 yards.
The Packers need to go to the drawing board and figure out some designed plays to get the ball in Nelson's hands if they want to have success in the coming weeks.
Marshall Newhouse Needs to Be Benched
While the majority of the offense played well this week, that simply can't be said for right tackle Marshall Newhouse.
Newhouse was starting for the injured Don Barclay. After watching his performance this week, it's easy to see why the Green Bay Packers decided to bench him at the start of the season.
He was consistently beat by the Minnesota Vikings and gave up numerous pressures on the quarterback. At this point, it'd be hard to see Newhouse in the starting lineup for the rest of the season.
Whether that means Barclay or second-year tackle Derek Sherrod likely depends on Barclay's health moving forward. However, it's absolutely clear that Newhouse doesn't deserve to be anywhere near the field for Green Bay.
Where Has the Run Defense Gone?
It wasn't too long ago that the Green Bay Packers had one of the best run defenses in the league. However, that has changed in recent weeks, especially with the most recent game against the Minnesota Vikings.
The Packers gave up an absurd 237 rushing yards to Vikings running backs Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart. Peterson finished the game with 146 yards and a touchdown, while Gerhart had 91 yards and an average of 11.4 yards per carry.
Simply put, the Packers haven't been able to stop anyone on the ground recently, and it's put a huge strain on the rest of their defense. Of course, the pass coverage this week wasn't spectacular either, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the run defense.
The Packers defense remains the weakest link on the season, and the fact that it continues to get worst is absolutely frightening.
Clay Matthews Is Back
It took three weeks, but outside linebacker Clay Matthews is finally back to playing like an elite player. Dan Hanzus of NFL.com wrote briefly about Matthews after this game, saying:
Clay Matthews is all the way back for the Packers. The linebacker—in his third game since his return from a broken thumb—finished with two sacks, two tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. The Packers defense has plenty of issues, but Matthews isn't one of them.
Matthews was certainly all over the field for the Green Bay Packers, as he played his best game of the year. What Matthews desperately needs now is for the rest of the defense to play at the same level that he proved that he's capable of playing at.
With the playoffs still possible for Green Bay, this is exactly the type of play needed from the All-Pro Matthews.
Tackling Remains Biggest Issue for the Defense
Can anyone remember a time in this game when running back Adrian Peterson went down on the first hit? There is no doubt that Peterson is the best in the game, but the Green Bay Packers missed so many tackles in this game, it was ridiculous.
After showing improving tackling last week, the Packers took a huge step backward in this game. It'll be interesting to see just how many missed tackles they had as a team when those stats become available, but it wouldn't be surprising to see the total number end up near the 20s.
There are plenty of problems to point at when dissecting the Packers defense, but the inability to tackle remains the biggest issue.
Packers' Playoff Hopes Remain Alive...Just Barely
While a win would have been preferred this week, the Green Bay Packers can't be overly bummed about walking away with a tie. This is especially true after a loss seemed like a foregone conclusion early in the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings.
With both the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears losing on Sunday, the Packers still have a chance at winning the NFC North. Next week's matchup against the Lions is going to be a must-win game for this team.
A win against Detroit and another Chicago loss would put the Packers atop the division heading into Week 14. And with quarterback Aaron Rodgers likely to be healthy by that time, the Packers actually still have a chance at sneaking into the playoffs.