NFL Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers Loss to Minnesota Vikings: The Bad

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Green Bay Packers' Loss to Minnesota Vikings: The Bad

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Brace Hemmelgarn - USA Today Sports

With the division title already captured, the Green Bay Packers’ loss to the Minnesota Vikings wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened. Still, the defeat gave the Packers a lot to be concerned about heading into the playoffs.

This could be very easily be an all-defense edition - the defense gave up 444 yards to the Vikings! Christian Ponder had a 120.2 passer rating. Christian Ponder! And do I need to mention what Adrian Peterson did to them?

As the offense found its footing and took off later in the game, the defense seemed to go the opposite direction. The Vikings offense was able to run just about any play it wanted to against the Packers. The defense has been up and down all season long, alternating strong performances with embarrassing ones. With the offense clicking behind Aaron Rodgers, the question for Green Bay in the playoffs is which defense will show up - the one that held Arian Foster to 29 yards in Week 6, or the one that has allowed Peterson to run for over 400 yards in two games? The one that forced two Ponder interceptions in Week 13, or the one that couldn’t get any pressure on him on Sunday?

The Packers will be favorites to win on Saturday, but the defense is a big issue. None of the problems that showed up on Sunday are new. The Packers have been dealing with these flaws all season long - and have continued to have success. If the Packers are able to survive the Vikings on Saturday, they will face bigger and better opponents, and the defense will make it or break it for Green Bay.

Though defense was the primary culprit, I’m quite egalitarian, so I’ll spread the blame around. Click through to see the worst offenders from the loss.

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Offensive Line

Brace Hemmelgarn - USA Today Sports

Five sacks! That’s 51 sacks on Aaron Rodgers this season!

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Tramon Williams

Brace Hemmelgarn - USA Today Sports

Not Tramon’s best showing. The cornerback got beat several times both in coverage and in the run. He was also called for an illegal use of hands penalty in the fourth quarter when Minnesota failed to convert a third-and-long. The penalty gave Minnesota a first down on a drive that would lead to a touchdown.

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Casey Hayward

Brace Hemmelgarn - USA Today Sports

I love this kid, but the cornerback was caught way out of position on last Vikings drive. With Minnesota facing third-and-11, Hayward gave up a 25 yard reception to Michael Jenkins. It not only gave the Vikings a fresh set of downs with the clock under 2:30, but it also put them within kicker Blair Walsh’s range.

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Mike McCarthy

Brace Hemmelgarn - USA Today Sports

What were you thinking?!? I know you were angry - we all were! But you know the rules!!!! You can’t challenge a play that is automatically reviewed! I literally fell to my knees and was screaming inconsolably because I thought the Packers had just lost a clear touchdown. McCarthy admitted that he threw the flag in a moment of emotion, which is out of character for the generally stoic coach, but you can’t let the refs’ incompetence get to you.

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Joe Nicholson - USA Today Sports

While we’re on the subject the officials were absolutely terrible, particularly in the first half. There were several bad calls. McCarthy had to use his first challenge in the first quarter to reverse a call of an incomplete pass by Ponder when it was really a Clay Matthews sack.

Then, with 4:38 left in the half, Rodgers threw a short pass to Jermichael Finley in the endzone. There was a penalty on Minnesota on the play, but the refs somehow ruled Finley short of the goal line. Having already used one challenge, McCarthy elected not to challenge that play.

During Minnesota’s final drive of the first half, Ponder, in trouble, chucked the ball up 42 yards, where it was tipped by several players before falling to the ground. Vikings receiver Jarius Wright made a diving lunge for the ball and the refs decided to call it a completion. The Packers had no timeouts remaining and, therefore, could not challenge the ruling, which replay would have shown was clearly an incomplete pass. Minnesota would score four plays later.

The refs earned the ire of both Rodgers and McCarthy with their slow spotting of the ball after each play. The Packers were trying to run an up-tempo, no-huddle offense, but the refs kept on thwarting them by plodding slowly across the field to spot the ball. One of the pros of a no-huddle offense is keeping the defense tired and a step behind. That’s hard to do when the refs are dawdling between plays.

Then, late in the third quarter came the James Jones touchdown that was ruled a fumble and a Minnesota recovery. This was such a bad call. It was obvious in real time that Jones either had the touchdown or was just shy of the endzone. He had been lying on the ground for more than a second when the ball came out. It was very clearly not a fumble, yet that’s what the refs ruled it. Had they ruled it a touchdown, that still would have allowed them a chance to review the play if Jones had indeed been stopped at the goal line or had fumbled. Luckily for the Packers, disaster was averted, but this was such a horrible call that never should have been made.

The Packers have no one to blame for this loss but themselves, but it sure would have been nice if the refs had quit bumbling around the field and let the two teams play football.

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Bruce Kluckhohn - USA Today Sports

The Packers set back the art of tackling a good year - that is, to the 2011 Packers, who showed themselves completely unable to tackle, despite the fact that they are paid millions of dollars to do just that. The tackling this season has been much, much improved, but Sunday’s game looked frightfully like the ghosts of seasons past.

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Run Defense

Brace Hemmelgarn - USA Today Sports

The tackling applied to both the secondary and the line, but the run defense deserves their own special place on this list of shame. I’ve been caterwauling about how bad this group is all year and there’s no one quite like Adrian Peterson to expose a weak run defense. The Packers have given up 409 yards to Peterson in two meetings - and they have to see him again on Saturday. Injuries continue to hit this already banged up group as defensive end Jerel Worthy suffered knee injury that required him to be carted off the field.

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Bruce Kluckhohn - USA Today Sports

The loss wasn’t a huge deal in and of itself. The Packers can live without the bye. But it would have been nice to extend the four-game win streak and head into the playoffs on the right note. Furthermore, it would have been nice not to send your first-round opponent into the playoffs with their own four-game win streak and a big confidence boost.