No Defense For Packers As They Hand Brett Favre His Vindication, For Now
If you had told Packer fans Monday morning Adrian Peterson would rush the ball 26 times for 55 yards, lose a fumble for a Green Bay touchdown, Aaron Rodgers would throw for almost 400 yards the Packers would still lose, they'd have told you that you were insane.
Welcome to Crazytown, population: Cheesehead Nation.
As if seeing Brett Favre wasn't unequivocally maddening in an of itself for Green Bay Fans, a Brett Favreian performance and Vikings victory came on a night when nation's eyes were squarely on that new purple No. 4 jersey.
Brett Favre can still get it done, he can still win football games, he is still an electric talent in the NFL. None of those should have been questioned before Monday Night, but the Packers certainly didn't do themselves any favors in helping Favre of today look like the Favre of old.
Green Bay's defense was listless rushing the passer, reactive rather than aggressive in coverage, and was on its heels most of the night despite containing Adrian Peterson all night long. It was as if the Packers dared Favre to beat him, and Favre obliged.
Why, in the name of all things Vince Lombardi, would the Packers just LET Brett Favre beat them? I wrote last week that the Packers wanted the ball in the hands of Brett Favre, and that is still true. Brett Favre was outstanding, never making the gunslinging mistake plenty of Packer fans were hoping he would. But the Packers didn't MAKE Brett Favre beat them, they let him.
The Packers didn't get sliced and diced by Favre because they were too busy worrying about Adrian Peterson. Favre carved up the secondary on straight drop-backs with absolutely zero pressure on his face. Tavaris Jackson could have thrown for 270 yards and three touchdowns against that defense.
No creativity, no pressure, no aggression from Green Bay's defense.
That is unacceptable in a game the Packers defense had talked about since August. There weren't linebackers running around creating pressure, or defensive backs flying in on unexpected downs.
A blitz is a blitz to some degree, and if you want to create pressure on the quarterback, while you're there you might make a tackle on a running back should he get the ball instead. Had Dom Capers not heard of a run blitz? Because a run blitz on a pass play is still a blitz. It still means bringing more people than the offensive line can theoretically block. It means moving Favre a step or two off his spot.
Just ask Aaron Rodgers. He knows what it's like to be moved from his spot. The guy was running for his life all night, and has been all season, and yet had the Packers within an onsides kick of going on a game-winning drive. He was sacked about 28 times, and that was just by Jared Allen.
It started on the opening drive. Green Bay, with a chance to quiet the crowd early and put Favre in a must-throw situation, marched down the field. Rodgers was brilliant, making stick throws and converting third downs. Then, he held the ball a little too long, was sandwiched and lost a fumble. Favre lead the Vikings down the field and all of a sudden it's 7-0 Vikings instead of 7-0 Packers.
Similar scenario just a few moments later when the Packers, having tied the game and forced Favre three and out, marched down the field again. This time, Rodgers threw a comeback route that Antoine Winfield came back with. Favre drove the Vikings down the field and the Vikes are back up 14-7, instead of the other way around.
That is 14 points off turnovers on two of the first three drives of the game. The Packers come away with touchdowns the other way instead of turnovers (highly plausible given the way they moved the ball much of the game) and a Favre-lead 31 throw night trying to overcome a 21-7 deficit does not end well for Minnesota.
Green Bay let Brett Favre have this moment, he didn't take it. The Packers played wildly inconsistent football, made mental mistakes with penalties, turned the ball over, and still had a chance to win the game on the road in the most emotional football game played in Minneapolis since I've been alive.
The Vikings wanted it more, and showed it with tenacity, hustle, and better execution.
The Vikings with Brett Favre, needed to win that game more than the Packers. A Super Bowl contender wins a game against a division rival at home on a Monday Night.
It was horrible, awful, terrible, excruciating, and difficult to watch for Packer fans, but let's not jump to conclusions about what this means about Ted Thompson, Aaron Rodgers, and the first Brett Favre retirement.
No way, with the kind of time Rodgers got, that 39 year-old Brett Favre nearly puts up four bills and has his team in a position to win the game late. Just saying.
It was unbearable at times to look at, and it came to a point where I'd shut off my phone and turned the TV off. But fans cannot quit on the team,and more importantly the Packers can't quit. They showed the kind of talent they have, but some mistakes and some strange coaching decisions were the difference in a game where the Vikings were basically perfect and Green Bay was mediocre at best.
Brett Favre and the Vikings needed their best game of the season to beat the Packers at home in a game with much more importance to them. They got it, and the Packers, particularly the defense, didn't even get off the bus. Yet, 30-23 is essentially as bad as it could get.
A loss is a loss, and this one is horrible. The Packers have two weeks to think about it, to stew over it, to make corrections, and to get it right against some weak opponents coming up. The Vikings proved they were a top-tier team when they took care of business Monday Night.
But, rest assured, the Packers gets their chance to do the same in a few weeks. If they bring their best game November 1st the same way the Vikings did Monday, the tundra will seem even chillier for one Mr. Favre.
Revenge is after all, a dish best served cold.
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