Jim Souhan: Another laugher in Packers-Vikings 'rivalry'
GREEN BAY, Wis. — There are times in sports when you have to, as athletes like to say, tip your cap; when you get beat by a superior performance.
This was not one of those times.
The Packers are a great team. They needed only be competent on Monday night to destroy the confused and inept Vikings.
Green Bay's 45-7 victory at Lambeau Field, which set a record for margin of victory in this rivalry, was more a product of Viking ineptitude than Packer supremacy.
"Disgusting," Jared Allen said.
"Atrocious," Visanthe Shiancoe said.
"Obviously the way we played in the second half showed the gap between our teams," coach Leslie Frazier said.
Fifty-one weeks ago, the Vikings lost 31-3 to the Packers at the Metrodome, and Brad Childress got fired. Monday's loss won't prove as transforming, but it was every bit as embarrassing.
The Packers' first touchdown resulted from a busted punt coverage. Their second touchdown resulted from a defensive scheme that left a safety 1-on-1 with the Packers' best receiver, Greg Jennings. Their third score, a field goal, resulted from two defensive backs failing to make a play on a fourth-down pass to a tight end.
The Vikings had one good chance to score in the first half, on a long field goal, but Fred Evans committed a false-start penalty, and Ryan Longwell's resulting 52-yard attempt fell short.
The Vikings had trouble lining up in time for a third-and-short play and were forced to call timeout. With the best running back in football at their disposal, they failed to expose the Packers' weak run defense, much less their corroded pass defense.
They went offside on the second-half kickoff. They jumped offside on third-and-10 on Green Bay's first drive of the second half, helping the Packers to a touchdown they scored when Cedric Griffin, a cornerback known for his tackling, got run over by Jordy Nelson.
Before the last play of the third quarter, they had 12 defensive players on the field, forcing them to take a timeout. Early in the fourth quarter, the Vikings defense negated a sack of Rodgers when Tyrell Johnson committed a hands-to-the-face penalty.
Sometimes great teams force their opponents to make mistakes. Most of the Vikings' mistakes, on Monday as for much of the season, were unforced. Because of the bye, the Vikings had 14 days to prepare. They appear to have spent most of that time practicing jumping offsides.
The Packers didn't so much knock them out as watch them trip over their own shoelaces.
The Vikings did exploit their most obvious advantage, as Jared Allen and Kevin Williams pressured Aaron Rodgers all night. The pass rush excelled, yet all the Vikings gained from that was the sight of Allen doing his pantomime-lasso act with his team hopelessly trailing.
Allen is having an excellent season, but he might want to check the scoreboard, and his team's record, and whether he was even given credit for a sack, before he calls attention to himself. He did his sack dance three times in the first half yet was credited with just one sack as his team fell behind 17-0.
Don't blame Christian Ponder for this mess. He threw one terrible pass, on a flea-flicker that didn't work, and otherwise had nobody open downfield, because the Vikings have no one who can get open downfield.
Don't blame Adrian Peterson. He faces more stacked lines than any back in football, and his teammates aren't good enough to make teams pay for defenses' obsession with him.
Blame the coaches, not because they are ruining a good team but because the mediocre team they run so often looks unprepared or disorganized. The Vikings are getting outscored 91-27 in the third quarter, the mark of a team that can't adjust on the fly.
"We've got to make sure we're concentrating," Frazier said. He also said: "I thought we would come out in the second half and close the gap, and it just didn't happen. ... I felt like we had a good plan."
The Vikings planned; the Packers laughed. Again.