Sunday’s Green Bay Packers versus Minnesota Vikings matchup had everything a fan could hope for in a Week 17 game. The Vikings’ playoff lives were at stake, Adrian Peterson was pushing for perhaps the greatest record of all time, the game was high scoring, included a second-half comeback, and came down to the final seconds.
The bottom line for the Packers was poor tackling throughout the game. Yes, Peterson is the best back in the league, but the Green Bay defense looked like last year’s defense and couldn’t seem to bring Peterson – or any other Viking, for that matter – down.
While the Green Bay offensive line allowed five sacks on Aaron Rodgers - not okay, guys – the brunt of the blame goes on the defense. Christian Ponder is not a good quarterback and the Packers’ defense made him look more poised and accurate than he is. They got only one sack on him the entire game.
Green Bay forced two turnovers the last time they played, but zero on Sunday. Green Bay had considerably less to play for than Minnesota, but the sloppy play, particularly on defense, is worrisome for Packers fans.
The real question is whether Green Bay will live to regret letting Minnesota sneak into the playoffs. I certainly don’t think it’s the worst draw to have the Vikings at Lambeau Field next week, but anything can happen. Two years ago, the Chicago Bears had a chance to knock Green Bay out of postseason contention, but failed to, leading to a NFC Championship rematch in which the Packers defeated the Bears and went onto win the Super Bowl.
The game was pretty typical of the Packers season, with beautiful, momentum-shifting plays alternated with inexplicable miscommunications and mistakes. The Packers had several opportunities to put their foot on the Vikings’ throat and each time failed to do so.
Until the Packers learn to close out games, especially defensively, they remain a question mark heading into the playoffs.
The silver lining in the loss is this: at least the Packers prevented the Chicago Bears from making the playoffs.