A quick glance at the box score might lead one to conclude that the disparity in production at QB led to the outcome of Saturday night’s Wild Card game playoff between the Vikings and Green Bay Packers. Green Bay came out a winner by a 24-10 count behind a 274-yard, 1-TD performance from QB Aaron Rodgers, while the Vikings offense struggled with backup QB Joe Webb under center.
It’s true that a big difference in play at QB was a determining factor in the game. But mistakes in other areas of the game were contributing factors as well. Just as frustrating for the Vikings as not having their starting QB available for the biggest game of the season was the fact that many of the costly mistakes committed by the Vikings were uncharacteristic of the way the team played down the stretch, when they won four consecutive games to qualify for the postseason.
Consider the following costly miscues committed by the Vikings:
– Leading 3-0 midway through the 1st quarter, the Vikings held Green Bay to a 3-and-out on its first possession and then stopped them on 3rd and 2 on their second possession. But an offsides penalty against veteran DT Kevin Williams extended Green Bay’s drive, and RB DuJuan Harris made the Vikings pay several minutes later when he scored from 8 yards out.
– On the first drive of the 3rd quarter, Green Bay was stopped again on 3rd down and was forced to bring their FG team out onto the field to salvage a score. But the Vikings had 12 men on the huddle due to a miscommunication from the sideline, and Green Bay was awarded a 1st down. On the next play, Rodgers found FB Jon Kuhn for a 9-yard TD, giving the Packers a commanding 24-3 lead.
– With 14:12 to play in the 4th quarter, the Vikings forced a punt from Green Bay and were poised to take possession while trailing by 21 points. But Marcus Sherels, who had been solid as the team’s punt returner all season, muffed the punt and it was recovered by the Packers. Green Bay was forced to punt again just 3 plays later, but they burned 2 more valuable minutes before doing so.
The last mistake did not result in a Green Bay score, but the previous two mistakes resulted in two Green Bay TDs. Keep in mind, the winning margin for Green Bay in the game was 14 points.
“To give up fourteen points after we should’ve been off the field, it is uncharacteristic,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said after the game. “We’ve done a good job with penalties this year. Marcus has been great catching punts. We never had to worry about him fielding punts.
“Those are things you don’t want to see happen – unforced errors in a game like this. It’ll kill you, that’s a good football team. For whatever reason it happened to us tonight.”
Despite the mistakes and the effort that resulted in a 14-point loss and early exit from the playoffs, Frazier reiterated during his press conference that he was proud of his team’s effort over the course of the season. No one is proud of the result, but that doesn’t preclude one from appreciating the effort and results that came from a successful 2012 season for the Vikings.
“I thought our guys played hard,” Frazier said. “We just didn’t always play the way we are capable of playing in some instances.
“I’m extremely proud of our football team, and the way they worked throughout this year to represent our organization, to represent our state. The effort that they have every single week throughout the course of this season, including tonight, those guys never let anyone put limitations on what they could achieve and they played as hard as they could and tried to do the very best they could to give us a chance to win. Tough loss, not the way we wanted our season to end. But because of the character of the men on this football team, there are a lot of things that we can learn from this 2012 season.”
Tags: Joe Webb, Kevin Williams, Leslie Frazier, Marcus Sherels
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