Vikings vs. Packers: Full Report Report Card Grades for Green Bay
The Minnesota Vikings appeared to have Sunday's game in hand against the Green Bay Packers. However, a switch at quarterback was all Green Bay needed to make a late run and come away with a 26-26 tie.
With quarterback Scott Tolzien struggling in his play to start the game, the Packers went to former backup Matt Flynn. The recently signed quarterback led the Packers to 16 straight points in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime.
Outside of Flynn and running back Eddie Lacy, the Packers didn't have many players or units finish with a positive grade this week. That was mostly due to major issues with the offensive line, defensive line and secondary on Sunday.
Let's take a look at the full roster report card for Green Bay following its tie on Sunday.
*All statistics courtesy of NFL.com.
Key Players: Scott Tolzien, Matt Flynn
The quarterbacks for the Green Bay Packers were a tale of two halves.
The first half, and part of the third quarter, didn't go so well for Tolzien. He finished the game with only 98 yards passing on seven completions and a rushing touchdowns.
The Packers decided to make a switch and brought in the recently signed Flynn. The difference in play was unbelievable as Flynn came in and threw for 218 yards and a touchdown. He brought the Packers back from their 16-point deficit to push the game into overtime and played well enough to ultimately salvage the tie.
Had Flynn played the entire game it's likely that the quarterbacks would have ended with a much higher grade. Unfortunately, Tolzien's struggles brought the overall grade for them down in a big way.
Final Grade: B
Key Players: Eddie Lacy, James Starks, John Kuhn
Of all the units this week, there is no doubt that the running backs had the best game, and top grade, of the afternoon.
Lacy finished the game with a whopping 158 total yards of offense and a touchdown, amassing 110 yards came on the ground while his 48 receiving yards all came in the fourth quarter.
Starks only had three carries, but managed to rush for 37 yards. His big play was a 34-yard run on the Packers' first drive of the second half.
The Packers would have been completely lost without their running backs this week. After a handful of games where Lacy and Starks had struggled, it was great to see this unit produce at such a high level against the Vikings.
Final Grade: A
Key Players: Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Jarrett Boykin
It was an interesting day for the wide receivers of Green Bay. At times, they were the dominant bunch that they should be each week, but there were also times when they were unable to get open and dropped too many passes. Simply put, Jones, Nelson and Boykin are too talented to not make every defensive secondary in the league look like a JV unit.
While the three combined for 16 receptions and 198 yards, it could have been quite a bit more had they made more plays. It wasn't a terrible week for this group, but it certainly could have been much better.
Final Grade: B-
Key Players: Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick
Both Quarless and Bostick have the potential to be impact players for Green Bay, and that's exactly what the Packers need with Jermichael Finley injured for the foreseeable future.
Unfortunately, both of these players have a tendency to make mental errors at key times. Take Bostick, for example. In the fourth quarter, he dropped a touchdown that would have ultimately given the Packers the win.
The good news is that Quarless and Bostick are getting more opportunities in this offense with each passing week. The bad news is that they aren't taking full advantage of those chances just yet.
Final Grade: C+
Key Players: David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Evan Dietrich-Smith, T.J. Lang, Marshall Newhouse
The good news for the offensive line comes in two forms from this game. For starters, the line played extremely well in the ground game as it consistently opened holes for running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks.
This group only gave up two sacks, but there were also some bad performances, basically those by Newhouse. He was consistently beat by Vikings defenders and gave up numerous quarterback pressures.
It's extremely difficult to imagine Newhouse starting in Detroit on Thursday, so don't be surprised if this group is much improved against the Lions.
Final Grade: B-
Key Players: Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji, Mike Daniels, C.J. Wilson, Datone Jones, Jerel Worthy
The best news of the game for Green Bay was that Worthy, a second-year defensive end, got his first playing time of the season after coming off the PUP list.
Outside of that positive news, the defensive line was pretty terrible against the Vikings. It gave up 232 rushing yards and was totally dominated by the Vikings offensive line.
This has become a common theme for the Packers defensive line in recent weeks. It used to be stout against the run, but has been run over in the past few games.
This group was able to get a little better pressure on the quarterback this week, but it wasn't enough to raise the grade from an overall poor performance.
Final Grade: C-
Key Players: Clay Matthews, A.J. Hawk, Andy Mulumba, Brad Jones, Mike Neal
If it wasn't for Hawk and Matthews, the linebackers would have finished Sunday with a rather terrible day. However, both were fantastic against Minnesota.
Hawk finished with 11 total tackles and a forced fumble. Matthews had four tackles, two of which were for a loss, and two sacks.
Neal and Jones added a sack apiece, but their games were lacking outside of those two sacks. The ultimate problem with this unit isn't the inability to make plays, but the fact that it can't do it on a consistent basis.
As long as Hawk and Matthews continue to play at a high level, however, this unit will continue to put up strong grades.
Final Grade: B+
Key Players: Tramon Williams, Davon House, Micah Hyde, Jarrett Bush
When a team allows quarterback Christian Ponder to throw for 233 yards and a touchdown, it's likely that it has some issues in its secondary. To make matters worse, the cornerbacks of the Green Bay Packers couldn't come up with a single turnover against a quarterback prone to making numerous mistakes.
There was simply poor play from the entire unit. After a strong performance in his last game, Williams couldn't stop anyone from making plays. House had a potential interception hit him directly in his hands, but couldn't come up with the turnover.
The injuries to Casey Hayward and Sam Shields are obviously hurting this unit, but you simply can't allow a weak quarterback like Ponder to dominate the course of a game. This has been an issue all year for the Packers, and Sunday didn't put any doubts to rest about this unit.
Final Grade: D+
Key Players: M.D. Jennings, Morgan Burnett, Chris Banjo
Much like Green Bay's cornerbacks, the safeties didn't have a great game for the Packers on Sunday. All you really have to do is look at the picture above of running back Adrian Peterson planting a firm stiff-arm to the face of Burnett in order to understand just how bad it got this week.
This unit consistently missed tackles and failed to make any big plays in the passing game. Sure, Burnett and Jennings combined for 19 total tackles, but most of them came after they had failed to make the original stop.
It's hard to know exactly why this group has struggled all season, but it has caused the entire Green Bay defense to have to pick up the slack. Until the unit can string together a group of games where it isn't a major issue, the Packers defense will continue to allow quarterbacks to throw on them all day.
Final Grade: D
Key Players: Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Micah Hyde
It's not that Crosby, Masthay and Hyde are playing bad every week. No, the reason that the Green Bay special teams unit gets a poor grade nearly every week is that the coverage team can't stop anyone.
This week it was rookie return man Cordarrelle Patterson who dominated the return game. He had four kickoff returns that averaged 31 yards with his longest being 57 yards.
Other than the coverage team, the rest of Green Bay's special teams played well. Masthay had eight punts with three that landed inside the 20-yard line. Crosby hit both of his field goals and finished with eight points.
However, until the Packers coverage team can play at a higher level, it won't matter what Crosby and Masthay do on a game by game basis.
Final Grade: C-