No love for the defense
Blame game doesn’t end with QB or the offense
The Minnesota Vikings rolled into Green Bay on Monday night for the season opener thinking their only serious question mark was quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.
And while Jackson did little to ease the doubt for the team or fan base, there was plenty of blame to go around following a 24-19 loss to the Packers.
Offense, defense and special teams. All three units let the Vikings down Monday.
In the first half, Jackson was a paltry 2-for-7 passing for 16 yards. If you’re keeping score at home the Vikings have zero, yes ZERO, first downs passing in the first half in the last two years in Green Bay.
Minnesota’s special teams blocked a field goal on the last play of the first half. But in the third quarter, the Packers’ Will Blackmon returned Chris Kluwe’s line-drive punt 76 yards for a touchdown that gave the Packers a 17-6 lead.
But the biggest disappointment of all? How about the Vikings defense.
This was a unit that allowed the fewest yards rushing and most passing a year ago. So the Vikings added pass-rush defensive end Jared Allen via trade and made him the highest paid defensive player in the league.
Allen said he wanted to drive his helmet into quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ spine. The only thing Rodgers’ spine felt on Monday was probably a chill going through it.
Rodgers started the first game of his four-year career. He was making the first start by a quarterback other then Brett Favre for the Packers since September of 1992.
Rodgers had to be feeling the pressure of all the Packers fans who still adore Favre. Rodgers didn’t have to worry about pressure from the Vikings defense, however.
After a sluggish start, Rodgers finished 18-for-22 for 178 yards and a touchdown. He added 1-yard TD run for the clinching score.
Rodgers wasn’t rattled, but the Vikings never gave him much cause for concern. He had open passing lanes and faced little pressure and ended up with a 115.5 passer rating. The Vikings did not record a single sack or force a single turnover.
The Minnesota defense also gave up two big back-breaking plays and committed four penalties inside its own 10.
On Green Bay’s third possession, Rodgers threw a 56-yard pass to wide receiver Greg Jennings, setting up the team’s first touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, Jackson led the Vikings to their first offensive TD in Green Bay since 2005. The Vikings were within 17-12. Then with less than eight minutes left, the Vikings defense let up again and allowed Ryan Grant to bust loose for a 57-yard run. That set up Rodgers’ TD sneak.
Following another Vikings TD, the Minnesota defense did hold the Packers with two minutes left. That gave the Vikings — trailing 24-19 — a chance to pull out the victory. But near midfield, Jackson threw an interception on a poorly thrown pass with 54 seconds left to seal the defeat.
Jackson finished 16-for-35 for 178 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He missed a few throws, especially in the red zone, that he is going to have to make if the Vikings are to be successful.
He wasn’t the lone reason for Monday’s loss, however. The defense can take an even bigger share of the blame.
And Vikings coach Brad Childress? He is now 0-5 against the Packers and 0-3 at Lambeau Field.
Guy N. Limbeck is a sports writer for the Post-Bulletin. He can be reached at
Page D4:Vikings Playback