The Green Bay Packers missed too many opportunities and lost to a good football team on the road Sunday in Minnesota.
A dominant second-half performance from the Packers offense wasn’t enough to overcome a sloppy first half – highlighted by penalties and a missed field goals – and a handful of missed chances to take the ball away from Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.
The end result? A walk-off field goal for the Vikings and a 34-31 loss to a divisional rival at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly from the Packers’ Week 11 defeat:
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Passing game comes alive: Not counting the one-snap kneeldown series to end the first half, the Packers scored on four consecutive possessions to end the game, including three straight in the second half. The passing game got red hot and stayed hot. Aaron Rodgers, after a slow start, threw a touchdown pass on all four possessions. In the second half, the three-time MVP completed 10 of 11 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns, including a 75-yard, game-tying touchdown to Marquez Valdes-Scantling late in the fourth quarter. Four different players had a catch over 20 yards, and Rodgers averaged 11.7 yards per attempt. Valdes-Scantling and Davante Adams both went over 100 yards receiving. When Rodgers plays in rhythm from clean pockets, he looks like the 2020 NFL MVP. The Packers need Rodgers and the passing game to catch fire down the stretch, and this was a great start.
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Pass defense: The Packers’ ascending defense crashed back to Earth on Sunday. Kirk Cousins threw for 341 yards and three scores, and Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen combined for 251 receiving yards. The Packers had at least five chances at takeaways but couldn’t finish plays. In fact, Darnell Savage had a legitimate shot at three different picks, including what could have been the game’s biggest play on the final drive. The missed turnovers ended up defining the contest. Cousins averaged 9.8 yards per attempt, while Jefferson averaged 16.9 yards per target. This was a big step in the wrong direction for a defense that played so well against elite quarterbacks in three straight games. The Packers gave up 34 points to the Vikings after giving up 34 in the previous three games combined.
Mason Crosby: The Packers have lost two games by a combined nine points since Week 1. Crosby missed two field goals in a six-point loss in Kansas City and then missed another easy kick during Sunday’s three-point defeat. And his three misses in Cincinnati nearly cost the Packers another win. Crosby’s clank off the upright on a 32-yard field goal in the first half gave him an NFL-high eight misses this season. That’s 24 lost points. His leash is long, maybe the longest in the NFL, but confidence in the whole operation is fading fast. Keep in mind, JJ Molson is on the practice squad.
Penalties: The Packers committed a season-high nine, including several on offense during a poor overall first-half performance. A roughing the passer penalty by Kingsley Keke negated what could have been a points-saving interception. He clearly went helmet-to-helmet on Kirk Cousins. This was an uncharacteristically sloppy performance by a Packers team that came into the contest ranked in the top three in the NFL in total penalties and penalty yards.
AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Another significant injury. Another week, another important injury situation. On Sunday, starting left tackle and Pro Bowl guard Elgton Jenkins went down with a non-contact knee injury in the third quarter and needed to be carted back to the locker room. The initial fear is he tore his ACL, which would end his season and almost certainly impact the start of his season in 2022. Jenkins has been rock-solid at left tackle this season in place of David Bakhtiari, who is still rehabbing his own repaired ACL. His status is unknown, leaving the Pakcers with Yosh Nijman as the starter at left tackle for the time being. If Bakhtiari isn’t able to return this season for whatever reason, Jenkins’ knee injury could be a season-altering loss.