Packers 38 Vikings 25: Holiday Presents & Lumps of Coal

Wishing all of our readers, visitors and guests a very Merry Christmas today!  Speaking of wishes, Green Bay Packers fans got theirs a day early as they watched their team discard the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 38-25.  The win ended any hopes of a Vikings postseason.  After starting 5-0, the Vikings have sputtered and flailed their way to the end of this season and it seems fitting that they'll now end their 2016 campaign with a meaningless game against the Chicago Bears in week 17.  

As for the Packers, they continued to make good on quarterback Aaron Rodgers' prediction that the team would "run the table" by winning their fifth straight game and improving to 9-6 on the season.  With the win, the Packers have set up what many had hoped they would: a week 17 match up with the Detroit Lions with the winner claiming the NFC North division title.  Before we move on to next week, let's take a look at who gave us presents (game balls) and who left us with a lump of coal (lame call) in our stocking.

Holiday Presents

Aaron Rodgers

I was in the house for this one and if you didn't hear it on the TV broadcast, there were at least three legitimate "MVP" chants throughout Lambeau Field.  Rodgers has returned to his surgeon-like status over the past month while the Packers have been red hot and he was every bit of fantastic in this game.  Four touchdown passes, one rushing touchdown and a return from a stinger that, when it happened, sucked the life out of the stadium for a moment.  

Rodgers is back in total control of the Green Bay offense.  He's staying in the pocket, trusting his receivers and running the offense like we've seen during its apexes in the past.  After two games in which Rodgers had clearly limited mobility, he was able to move around, escape pressure, create and run.  Minnesota's pass rush is still very effective and they got into the backfield on numerous occasions only to watch Rodgers spin out and find a receiver.  It's worth noting that the Vikings had zero passes defensed in this game.  

While the defense has had its struggles over the past few games, it's Rodgers and the offense that are carrying this team from start to finish.  The Packers will go as far as Rodgers can take them.  That's true of most quarterbacks but Rodgers can mitigate a poor day by the defense unlike most others.  That sounds like a most valuable player candidate to me.

Mike Daniels

Daniels has probably been deserving of being on this list before but because he's not putting up flashy stats, he has been overshadowed.  Not today.  The fiery, emotional leader of this defense, Daniels brought it in this game.  He recovered a fumble and had a sack of Sam Bradford and even dropped into coverage at one point.  

When the Packers were struggling earlier this season, they needed a leader to step up and emerge.  Daniels never stopped being that guy.  His stats are never flashy, but he consistently does what he's called upon to do in order to create for those around him.  His sack was really a coverage sack but he was able to get in and bulldoze Bradford into the turf.  Needless to say, Sam won't forget #76 anytime soon and will probably be spending some extra time in the tub this week.

Clay Matthews

Matthews has been more of a novelty in recent week since suffering a separated shoulder a month ago.  Without the strength needed to do what he normally does, Matthews has drawn attention from opposing offenses on his reputation alone.  In this game, he reminded us all what he can actually do when he's on his game.  Matthews came through and batted down a third down pass attempt early on, which was good to see because the shoulder injury has prevented him from full use of his arm.  Matthews broke up another pass with some nice coverage later on.  His play of the game, and it was really the turning point of the game, was his strip sack of Bradford that led to a fumble recovery by Daniels. 

If this defense is going to struggle on the back end, it's games like this from Matthews that will keep the Packers afloat and give them a chance to do big things.

Jordy Nelson

Nine catches, 154 yards and two touchdowns.  Nelson continues his resurgence and return to previous form.  His ability to find open spots and be so incredibly in tune with Rodgers is a big reason why this Packers offense has regained its mojo during this winning streak.  Nelson's first touchdown, which was just as much run as it was catch, was another example of why Nelson should receive strong consideration for comeback player of the year.  At this point, Nelson is no longer coming back.  He IS back.

Lumps of Coal

Quinten Rollins

Rollins didn't have an awful day, but as has been the case before, someone has to make up this side of the list.  Rollins was forced into action on the outside with the struggles of Damarious Randall last week and he drew Vikings receiver Adam Thielen.  That proved to be a bad match up.  Rollins' worst moment of the day came when he let Thielen get behind him and romp into the end zone with a 71-yard score.  Give just as much blame to safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix on the play for taking one of the worst angles I've ever seen a safety take.  

Rollins seems to be struggling through the groin injury suffered earlier this season and that kept him out a bit.  He came on late last season and appeared to be poised for a big role this season.  He has certainly played a lot, but the effectiveness hasn't been there.

The Rest of the Pass Defense

I mentioned Clinton-Dix already and with the loss of LaDarius Gunter, the Packers were forced to use Makinton Dorleant and Marwin Evans.  Randall had a nice pass break up, but wasn't much of a factor for a second straight week.  Micah Hyde and the safeties were serviceable and, to be fair, were keeping everything in front of them for much of the afternoon after a lead was built.  Because of that lead, the Vikings and Bradford threw it 50 times for 382 yards.  Regardless of the situation, that's way too many yards to be giving up by a team that has aspirations of making something special out of this season.  

Randall returning to form and contributing like a first rounder is going to be one of the X-factors to this Packers team the rest of the way.

Onside Kick Coverage

Every team falls victim to the onside kick try every now and then.  Heck, the Packers benefited from two late in the 2010 season and one in 2012.  But anytime the Packers fail to recover a try by their opponent anytime between now and the next 50 years, fans are going to think of "the big one".  We're snake bitten, still to this day and so therefore, the entire unit on the field gets a lame call.  Many want to blame Blake Martinez because the ball hit his leg and became live.  But Martinez was doing what he was supposed to do, which was block Vikings players from trying to pounce on the live ball.  It was just a well-executed play by the Vikings.  Thankfully it didn't matter much and didn't cost the Packers the game.

But still. . .get the Pepto!

Stefon Diggs

Diggs caught a touchdown pass late when the game was well in hand and promptly hurled the ball into the stands like a petulant child.  He'll be lighter in the wallet for it, as that is an automatic fine by the NFL.  Minnesota's season went up in flames after a strong start and the realization of that was apparently too much to take.  One of the keys to a team becoming successful is creating a winning attitude and it's clear that the Vikings still have some work to do.  Diggs has had himself a nice season but this was a sore spot.

Maybe he was just upset because he learned of the Vikings defensive backs defying head coach Mike Zimmer and not following the game plan to cover Nelson in the first half.  It left Diggs and the offense with quite an early deficit to deal with and was a nice Christmas gift to the Packers and their fans from the Vikeys.  Ironically, it was Packers fans and media wondering if Mike McCarthy had lost his team and was delivering a stale message just a month ago.  Now, with their season over, it appears as though the Vikings have issues of the same kind to sort out at Winter Park.

 

Others to mention:

  • Nick Perry with two sacks, albeit one of which was a gimme at the end, was nice to see.  He's playing with that gaudy club on his hand which makes his job tougher, but good to see him out there.  The pass rush is going to be a key to late season success and Perry has been a big part of that.  He reached the 10 sack mark with his performance in this game
  • Kenny Clark had a fumble recovery and two hits on Bradford.  His emergence would come at a very ideal time for this Packers defense
  • Geronimo Allison nearly got a game ball but it was a crowded group.  With Randall Cobb out, Allison was tapped to handle the slot duties and responded with a big day, including a huge third down catch late in the third quarter 
  • Jake Schum had a nice day kicking, averaging over 40 yards and mixing in a 49 yarder.  The field position battle is key late in season and Schum has been an asset
  • Staying on special teams, Micah Hyde could have been a bit more careful with the rock today.  On at least two occasions, he was too risky, fielding a punt on a hop with a defender closing in and then misjudging and fumbling a punt early in the fourth quarter.  He was able to jump on it but the usually sure handed Hyde was a bit off in this contest

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Comments (21)

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NickPerry's picture

December 25, 2016 at 12:37 pm

Presents.....Rodgers, The OL, and the Receivers. The Packers ran 33 plays not counting any ST plays like punts, kickoffs, and extra points. Montgomery ran the ball just 7 times in the first half, 9 for the game. It was obvious Rodgers and McCarthy wanted to and thought they could move the ball with ease against the Vikings, and they DID.

Geronimoooooo... I love this kid. He's a big target, catches the ball with his hands, and gets 1st downs. I liked him in College and even more now.

Nick Perry...Petting his cast after his 2nd sack, even as TGR pointed out it will probably cost the Packers extra $$$ to keep him next year.

Firmly shutting up those obnoxious Vikings who thought they'd won the SB after week 2 with a 3 point Victory.

Lumps.... Jordy beat EVERYBODY so I don't want to hear this crap from Zimmer. Your ass was handed to you, take it like a Professional.

Pass Defense...Without singling out anyone there was a 3rd down play where the Packers had 4 defenders standing behind the receiver when he caught the ball. Not one of them approached the receiver in hopes of stopping him short. They all stood there waiting for the 1st down to be made before thinking about tackling him. I'd have settled for someone to "Grab, Grab, Grab at that point.

Jordy Nelson not making the Pro Bowl. ...91 Catches, 1191 Yards, & 14 TD's...Enough said..

Merry Christmas to the CheeseheadTV Staff and all my fellow Packers fans!!!

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cheddarhead's picture

December 25, 2016 at 06:02 pm

He will b preparing for the Superbowl.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 26, 2016 at 10:43 am

Excellent work NP.

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Packer_Pete's picture

December 25, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Taylor and Bulaga both had bad games. So they belong into the lump of coal category...

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Bearmeat's picture

December 25, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Merry Christmas to all my Packer buddies!

May our secondary get the gift of health and ability today! :D

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DrealynWilliams's picture

December 25, 2016 at 01:19 pm

This is random:

After going over the game again I no longer care about 40-times, combine numbers or any Pro Day numbers.

Now, I'm not labeling him a speedster, but Geronimo, on film, looks like something we haven't had on the field since **wait for it**. Maybe it's just the hunger of an undrafted rookie (giving his all every single snap), maybe it's the long legs, I don't know -- but he stands out when that ball is snapped.

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4thand1's picture

December 25, 2016 at 01:40 pm

That's the bs that is combines. GA didn't have a great combine time so he fell off of the radar. Some of these guys train for weeks to improve their 40 times, it doesn't make them a better football player. Route running and catching the dam ball seem pretty important to me. The NFL has been full of receivers, past and present who aren't track stars.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

December 25, 2016 at 02:13 pm

True. I'm sticking to a player's film from here on out.

As I was going over the game I tried putting my fan card to the side and avoid paying attention to jersey numbers. The guy in the slot was moving quicker than the other WRs and his moves off the line and/or long strides often created "NFL separation".

And then I thought to myself, "who is this tall lanky guy? It can't be Geronimo. The big knock on him is his speed."

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CJ Bauckham's picture

December 25, 2016 at 07:19 pm

Completely agree. Geronimo was regularly beating db's down the field for long balls in his film. He was my number 1 late round wr pick for the pack and I'm thrilled he's coming through for us. The tape doesn't lie!

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Lphill's picture

December 25, 2016 at 01:31 pm

I think Geronimo is the real deal has speed and size, Merry Christmas to all !!!

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daveh's picture

December 25, 2016 at 01:34 pm

After replaying the game, I have no faith in this defensive backfield, the are a triple threat, trip,stumble and fall. It will take more than the Hail Mary to win , next week, more like a Rosary...start praying....GO PACK I PRAY

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4thand1's picture

December 25, 2016 at 01:42 pm

You don't win 5 in a row by accident.

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Bert's picture

December 25, 2016 at 01:42 pm

Good to point out Kenny Clark's play of late. He's making some real good strides and becoming an effective DL at a very good time. He could be a real force in the post season.

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NickPerry's picture

December 25, 2016 at 02:24 pm

I keep forgetting how young he is. He was 20 when drafted, turned 21 in October. He wasn't even old enough to drink when he was drafted. Daniels really likes him and he seems like a really good kid. He could be a good one.

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4thand1's picture

December 25, 2016 at 01:49 pm

To anyone getting down on Cobb, just stop. Cobb as great hands and will be one more weapon going forward. The lions will have to worry about Jordy, Devante, Randall, Geronimo (man I love that name),Monty, and Cook. Oh and the guy throwing the rock ,MVP AR.

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GVPacker's picture

December 25, 2016 at 01:56 pm

Nice to see Clubber Lang (Nick Perry) back! Hopefully he will help with the pass rush.

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croatpackfan's picture

December 25, 2016 at 06:07 pm

Very, very Mary Christmas to all of you, people who is doing this page and fans that visiting and commenting here...

Jasone, "While the defense has had its struggles over the past few games, it's Rodgers and the offense that are carrying this team from start to finish." is claim that is so wrong. Who brought ball back to the hands of the Aaron, after offense went 3 and out on 1st series? Who gave the ball to Aaron and offense to build that huge lead (38-13 at the moment Aaron was replaced by Brett Hundley)? Packers O did not score point during 3rd Q. How many points scored Vikings?
Viking get the ball 9:02 before the end of the game with 25 points of deficit. They scored at 4:20 before the end of the game. More than half of the time what was available for Vikings. Packers O than return the ball to the Vikings at 3:47 (they kept the ball only 33 seconds!), but they pushed Vikings to burn their 2 TO. Vikings scored again 32 seconds before the end, but, also, Packers D stopped 2 point conversion. And that's all. It was finishing the game to avoid additional injuries. That "bad" D kept Vikings to only 13 points. And they would kept them longer and much more firmly through 4th Q if there was necessity.
I'm tired of that spit on Packers D. They harassed Vikings O whole game. Packers secondary at least have some pass deflected, Vikings secondary has 0 in that stat category!
So, this is not game win by Aaron Rodgers alone. This is teams win as any other teams win. Aaron made that win easier, and that is the truth!
So, now on Lions! Go, Pack, Go!

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Rossonero's picture

December 25, 2016 at 03:15 pm

Adam Czech is smiling somewhere.

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Since'61's picture

December 25, 2016 at 06:50 pm

Presents for Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, CM3 and Daniels. Rodgers has put this team on his back and is carrying them into the playoffs.
Coal for our pass defense especially the CBs. We are going to need better pass defense if we are going to beat Detroit and the playoff opponents that we will face.

Great win against the Viqueens but our pass coverage is a concern. Meanwhile Rodgers is making a stronger and stronger case to be MVP. Merry Christmas and Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

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LayingTheLawe's picture

December 25, 2016 at 09:23 pm

Merry Christmas to Davante Adams. The guy has 1000 yards and 10 td's and half the fanbase still seems to hate him.

This defense will never be dominant. When Dorleant is coming in for Gunter you see how far down the barrel they are scraping for secondary players. But what this defense can do is make the big play. 2nd in the NFL in picks, 5th in sacks, and averaging over 2 turnovers per game during the 5 game win streak. Give a few extra drives per game to this offense and that may be enough.

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gary's picture

December 26, 2016 at 11:47 am

I think Jason Spriggs did a nice job of filling in for Bulaga in the sencond half.

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