Having just returned from the game, I probably should sit down with the DVR and review this game on television before writing a game review. However, I can tell you now that I don't plan on watching this game again until my body has rid itself of the toxins left behind from watching it the first time, so I will simply comment based on what I saw live.
I went into this game believing there would be no moral victories...this was a must-win, no excuse or rationalization. However, in retrospect, I think I was wrong. When the Packers roared back in the second half, there was a part of me that was so excited that I felt even if they lost in the last seconds in a close game, I was much happier than the way the game had started. However, when the Packers returned to their first-half uninspired and disjointed play, I think it left me even more disappointed.
This game was about a lot more than the quarterback for the other team, no matter how much we hyped it and overblew it. It looks like the Packers also forgot to focus on what was important, too. With that, the QuickHits for this week:
* This game turned on one decision: the choice to go for a 50-yard field goal. Yes, 4th and 8, down by five points in the fourth quarter on the Viking 33 is probably a no-brainer...normally.
But this is Mason Crosby, who melts in the face of pressure and kicks over 35 yards long. If you were listening, there was a voice resonating from Section 130, Row 35, screaming "No! Don't do it!", bringing back memories of Frankie Winters yelling at T.J. Rubely. But, no, that was me screaming to Mike McCarthy, pleading with him not to give the Vikings the ball at midfield and the momentum back. But, he did.
Simply put, Mason Crosby is an excellent kickoff guy. But this is the second big kick in two seasons of Vikings games he's blown. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. As soon as that eeked outside the uprights, you could tell the whole team lost every bit of steam they had in their stride.
* I've already noticed Aaron at Cheesehead TV starting to take heat for reacting emotionally to this game. Please. And if the Packers had won, we would be censoring our own emotionalism? No way. We CHOSE to make this game the biggest game on the home schedule this year. And no matter how much we deny it, how much we say we're "sick of Favre", we made it all about him today, made beating "him" the only goal. And we lost...badly.
The Packers have been a part of what will be two of the highest rated NFL games this season outside of the Super Bowl, and it isn't because of who is playing on their team, who is coaching them, or who is leading them. It was because of who they were playing. Now, all that attention is going to go away for the rest of the season, and it is up to us to figure out the mess left behind.
There's going to be LOTS of emotional statements. "It's a business" has been a common phrase uttered since Ted Thompson took over the Packers, justifying his approach to building a team. Look for that to change soon. Yes, the Packers are a business, but it ain't all about dollars and cents. It's about wins.
* Clay Matthews rocks. I have been trying to decide what jersey I want, and I may have decided on this kid. I still can't justify the amount we paid to get him, but it sure is nice to have a first rounder pan out and contribute right away.
* The lack of pressure on Favre compared to the pressure on Rodgers was laughable. Some of it was due to the differences in the offensive lines, and Lang/Barbre did nothing to alleviate the concerns that Thompson did not have a very good plan in place to replace Clifton/Tauscher. But the harshest lesson has to be watching Favre's most underrated skill set: his ability to sense pressure in the pocket and move it around with slight adjustments, helping his linemen keep in front of the rushers. Rodgers seems to be regressing, holding onto the ball so bloody long, when last year we regularly applauded him throwing it out of bounds.
Six sacks on Rodgers, and ten hits on him. That's simply unacceptable. Favre again went without a sack, and while he did have five hits on him that, at times, upset his passes, you sure didn't see him limping around after each play.
I love Aaron Rodgers. I think he has the potential to be a great quarterback in this league. But he's going to get hurt soon, and worse, he's going to keep developing bad habits that quarterbacks get when they never have time to throw.
* Nothing against Jermichael Finley, but Spencer Havner is doing what we've been waiting for Jermichael Finley to do. Maybe it is simply a component of the offense, and as long as you have a nice athletic body in there, these red-zone TDs are what we should expect. I'm sure Havner is feeling really good about his job security after the last few weeks.
* Oftentimes, stats tell you a pretty clear story, but not today. The Packers owned time of possession, edged the Vikings in first downs, turnovers, passing yardage. But they lost out on the most important stat: the final score.
My favorite stat? Ryan Grant, our leading halfback, had 30 yards on 10 carries. The Packers had 6 penalties for 45 yards. Once again, our halfback couldn't outstrip our penalties.
* Maybe someone has a good explanation for me, but was anyone else confused when Ahman Green was returning kicks? I mean, wasn't he just activated for the game, and has he ever had experience returning kicks? Just didn't make a lot of sense. Maybe the radio or TV broadcast explained it. Just struck me kind of odd.
* Again, stats belie what happened on the field. Sure, Rodgers again has a glowing passing rating of 108.5, but since he never turns the ball over, that will always keep that number respectable. Rodgers looked as flustered as I've ever seen him, even back to his rookie year. He looked out of sync with his receivers, throwing the ball into wide-open spaces. He took unnecessary sacks and used his legs to outrush every other back on our team combined.
If you just look at his stats, you'd say he had a good game. But this was far from his best.
* Yes, Adrian Peterson finished with almost a hundred yards, but the defense did a very good job keeping him under control. A third of his yards came on one carry, and without it, he averaged just over 2 yards a carry. Seems like every time we face him, everyone assumes he's going to "get his yards". But the Packers have stymied him each time, a feather in the cap for a run defense that was maligned at the beginning of the season.
* Scary moment when Donald Driver went down. Seemed like a lot of knicks and cuts this week, which usually seem to happen more when you are losing. Glad to see he was alright.
* Viking fans in the crowd made me a bit nervous. How exactly do this many Viking fans get tickets for a sold-out game with nothing but season ticket holders? I saw at least two Viking fans led out of the stadium by police, so here's hoping some of those season ticket holders who can't seem to keep their tickets away from people with purple jerseys lose their tickets. The Vikings fans nearest me were very polite and gave (and took) some good-natured ribbing, but I didn't have to look too far to see some very antagonistic behavior.
* Listening to Mike McCarthy talk after the game did not sound much different from what he's said for the last year and a half. "I felt the game had really flipped and you need to ride those waves. Especially at home. That's the benefit of playing home football. That's the benefit of playing here at Lambeau Field. We didn't take advantage of that. That's a lesson that needs to be learned. We made too many mistakes to win the game and that's a fact. I didn't do a very good job of getting the offense in rhythm in the first half."
I know, what is he supposed to say? The point is, though, he's been saying the same thing for over a year now and we are still waiting for this team to show up consistently for four quarters against quality opponents. I think MM is playing for his job the rest of this season.
* This game sure showed a huge difference from the last two games, where I think the Packers could have sat their starters and still beat the level of competition they were up against. There was no rhythm, no motivation, no discipline...until what seemed to be a "sugar rush" in the third quarter that dissipated short of the goal. The same old problems resurfaced; sacks, lack of pressure on the quarterback, non-combat penalties, missed tackles, lack of discipline.
This is a team that is simply playing with "antergy", which is the opposite of synergy. They aren't playing up to their ability, much less exceeding the sum of their parts. This game exposed the holes on the roster and the square pegs in round holes of the 3-4 defense.
Brett Favre didn't beat Aaron Rodgers today. Favre and the Vikings beat the team Ted Thompson was supposed to have built around Rodgers.