What was I thinking as the final gun sounded at TCF Bank Stadium?
That it didn’t take Teddy Bridgewater long to realize the margin for error against the Packers is mighty slim. Bridgewater’s slow start was lowlighted by a Ponder-esque throw that was intercepted by Michah Hyde at the Vikings’ 47-yard line.
From there, Aaron Rodgers completed 3 of 3 passes for 47 yards and a 40-yard cross-the-field, right-to-left pass that went in the books as a 1-yard touchdown pass.
That gave the Packers a 14-7 lead with 5:23 left in the first half. The Packers weren’t tied or behind after that score.
Defensively, the Vikings aren’t going to win if they can’t stop the run. All of their losses have had at least critical spurts where they’ve been unable to stop the run. Today, they let Eddie Lacy pound away on them for 125 yards on 25 carries (5.0). That can never happen when the QB is Aaron Rodgers.
But the most frustrating defensive play of the game has to be Rodgers’ 18-yard run on third-and-six with 11:29 left. The Vikings had seven men at the line of scrimmage. They rushed six. They forced Rodgers off his spot with tight coverage and a strong rush. But then he took off for 18 yards to help the Packers turn a 17-13 lead into a 24-13 lead with 8:34 left.
Overall, let’s face it, the Vikings weren’t going the playoffs even if they won this game. They’re 4-7, but a competitive game against the Packers has good value because it helps Bridgewater learn against the best team in the division. And it helps the Vikings’ new defense do the same against the best quarterback in the division, the conference and perhaps the entire league.
The Packers lead the Vikings 14-10 at halftime at TCF Bank Stadium. Kicker Blair Walsh hit a 39-yard field goal with 16 seconds left to reduce the Vikings deficit right before halftime.
The Good: The Vikings had the longest scoring drive this season, lasting 14 plays and ending on a 22-yard touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to wide receiver Charles Johnson.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer gambled twice on fourth down inside Packers territory, but the offense converted on both attempts to extend the drive and produce the touchdown opportunity.
Johnson, who recorded his first career touchdown reception, has been targeted more than any other receiver for the Vikings but surprisingly only had two catches for 41 yards.
Bridgewater wasn’t sharp on the drive, as he hasn’t been throughout the first half, but he threw a nice ball to an open Johnson for the touchdown. The rookie went 11 of 22 for 122 yards with a touchdown and interception.
The Bad: Bridgewater’s been bad but so has the missed tackles and blown assignments on defense as well. It was an area the Vikings struggled during their first meeting against the Packers, as well as last week against the Bears. Safety Harrison Smith and linebacker Anthony Barr have missed a few tackles each, allowing the Packers to average 4.6 yards per carry on 14 attempts. Packers running back Eddie Lacy has 10 carries for 51 yards and a one-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Meanwhile, Rodgers went 9 of 14 for 127 yards and connected on a wide open one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Richard Rodgers (no relation).
The Ugly: You’d think this was Lambeau Field with the amount of green and yellow in the stands. It’s pretty much a 50-50 split among Packers and Vikings fans, each going back and forth with their different chants.
Make no mistake about it though, the Packers fans are pretty visible and loud. It’s not a good look for the home team.