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Week 16 Game Recap: Minnesota Vikings 25, Green Bay Packers 38


What you need to know

Minnesota Vikings

The ground game looked surprisingly effective against the Packers, though once the game got out of hand, the Vikings moved on from it to some extent. The Vikings offense was OK, for the most part, but mostly gained yards once the Packers sat back a bit with a big lead. They could have some success next week against the Chicago Bears, but the offensive line always makes the offense feel like a ticking time bomb. You never know when it will disappear.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers passing offense is on fire, but this week the ground game was non-existent. That inconsistency makes it once again impossible to trust Ty Montgomery, much less Christine Michael, in Week 17. That said, Jordy Nelson, Aaron Rodgers and to a lesser extent, Davante Adams, are all playing very well and are likely to see plenty of success against the Detroit Lions in week 17.

Minnesota Vikings

QB Sam Bradford, 78 offensive snaps, Pass: 34 - 50 - 382 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 5 - 0
Bradford threw the ball fifty times on Sunday, which is by no means optimal against a solid Green Bay Packers defense, but he completed 68 percent of those passes. As has been the case since Pat Shurmur took over as offensive coordinator, the gameplan mostly consisted of short passes, with an average of 7.64 yards per throw. Bradford has averaged 6.99 yards per attempt on the season, so this was a high water mark for the year, but he ranks 19th overall in that stat for this season, well behind the pack. That said, the Vikings really had no choice as Saturday marked their seventh different starting offensive line combination of the season. As if to remind us how that’s a bad thing, center Nick Easton misfired a snap into his own behind, fumbling the ball and turning it over to the Packers in the second quarter. It’s been that sort of season. The short-range offense the Vikings feature has been the team in survival mode, doing all they could to keep Bradford healthy. That doesn’t mean Bradford can’t air it out a bit, as he did on a 71-yard touchdown pass to Adam Thielen. On that play, Bradford rolled out to his right and spotted Thielen as he juked a defender with a nice double-move and broke free. Bradford aired the ball out with a 30-yard throw, and two Green Bay defenders collided behind the play, leaving Thielen free to run the last 31 yards for the score. Bradford also found Stefon Diggs for a score—the first time they hooked up since Week 8—on a nicely thrown ball into the end zone and then hit Thielen for a second score along the back of the end zone in the fourth quarter. Both the second touchdown to Thielen and the one to Diggs came with the game well out of hand and the Packers playing a more relaxed defense, but more of Bradford’s yards came in the first half, as he only added 151 of his 382 yards in the third and fourth quarters. As he has too often over the last month or so, Bradford also fumbled the ball without help from his center’s rear end, as he got crushed from behind by linebacker Clay Matthews and coughed up the ball.

RB Jerick McKinnon, 54 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 50 - 0, Rec: 5 - 35 - 0 (6 targets)
Despite facing the No. 9 run defense in the NFL, McKinnon had some success on Saturday. Interestingly, McKinnon’s first two touches were passes, not carries. He was frequently thrown too throughout the day as the Vikings desperately tried to claw their way back into the game from early 14-3 and 28-13 deficits. McKinnon had one of his more effective days running, though, showing some nice burst and good vision as he ran well behind a shaky offensive line.

RB Matt Asiata, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 34 - 0, Rec: 3 - 30 - 0 (4 targets)
Asiata wasn’t on the field a ton, just 25 offensive snaps on the day, as the team leaned more on Jerick McKinnon. Despite limited snaps, Asiata was very effective running the ball, mostly in the red zone where he was able to gash the Packers defense, though he could never punch it into the end zone.

WR Adam Thielen, 75 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 12 - 202 - 2 (15 targets)
It’s pretty obvious that quarterback Sam Bradford favors Thielen pretty heavily no matter the field position, down or distance. Next to tight end Kyle Rudolph, nobody has been targeted more often since Week 10, and over the last four games, he is by far the most targeted wide receiver (again, just behind Rudolph over all). So it should come as no shock that Thielen was the most targeted player in the offense this past Saturday. The result was a career day for Thielen, who was the one player the Packers just had no answer for. Thielen had 142 yards and a touchdown in the first half, and just kept adding yards throughout the game. While the Packers did play a little softer with a large lead, they still just couldn’t come up with an answer for the receiver. On his first touchdown, Thielen ran a route down the sideline, did a little double move on his defender, then took off down the field again. Sam Bradford delivered the ball to his receiver 30-yards down field. Two Packers collided behind Thielen, who was then free to run the last 31 yards for the score. Thielen’s second touchdown didn’t even require that much effort, as he ran a short route into the end zone, then drifted across the back line, uncovered. Bradford saw him and delivered the ball for a score.

WR Stefon Diggs, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 29 - 1 (6 targets)
Diggs continues to barely be an afterthought in the offense, though he did score for the first time since Week 8. On the play, Diggs ran a corner route and had a step on the defender. Sam Bradford threw a perfect pass ahead of Diggs, who hauled it in for the touchdown.

WR Cordarrelle Patterson, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (4 targets)
Patterson didn’t touch the ball on returns Saturday, as the team opted to go with Adam Thielen and tight end David Morgan. He saw a limited role on passing downs, mostly in the second half and with limited success. His role seems to have been reduced across the board lately and it’s unclear what, if anything, that bodes for his future.

WR Charles Johnson, 29 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (4 targets)
Johnson continues to be marginalized in the current offense, though two of his targets were on deeper passes. However, it appeared as if he and Sam Bradford weren’t on the same page as Johnson didn’t seem to be where Bradford expected him to be.

TE Kyle Rudolph, 75 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 53 - 0 (9 targets)
Rudolph continues to get solid amounts of targets but not a ton of yards. He has only cracked 70 yards once since Week 3 and has just one touchdown in his last six games. The Packers game was more of the same. It looked promising in the first half, as Rudolph made a nice catch over the middle with a defender draped over his shoulders, gaining 21 yards on the play. Then he largely disappeared the rest of the quarter, not being targeted again until the middle of the third quarter when he hauled in a 9-yard catch on a 3rd and 15. The Packers did a good job of blanketing him overall, and limiting his ability to find open space, reducing his role to almost nothing.

TE David Morgan, 7 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets)
The rookie made his debut against the Packers, but not much of an impact. On the field for just seven snaps, the team was clearly just giving Morgan a chance to get his feet wet.

TE Rhett Ellison, 21 offensive snaps (1 targets)
Ellison was on the field for just 21 offensive snaps, primarily as an extra blocker.


Green Bay Packers

QB Aaron Rodgers, 56 offensive snaps, Pass: 28 - 38 - 347 - 4 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 13 - 1
Rodgers did well enough to earn a break in the latter half of the fourth quarter. The Packers quarterback continued his red-hot play and immediately had the once-feared Vikings defense on its heels as he completed 14 of his first 16 passes and tore it apart. Rodgers had thrown a pair of touchdowns by the end of the first quarter and three more—two passes and one run off of a scramble—by the end of the half. Rodgers was sacked four times, but the offensive line largely kept him protected. Even when pressured, Rodgers was efficient and accurate, extending plays with his legs (and not really suffering much obvious pain due to his numerous leg issues) when needed and standing in to deliver a pass even when hit. All told Rodgers was on point, completing 78 percent of his passes, never turning over the ball and creating plenty of the plays we always expect from him. All four of his passes were perfectly placed and he seems completely in sync with his receivers. Of course, Rodgers is most impressive when he is using his feet to create plays, and his 6-yard score just before the whistle at the end of the first half was as good an example of that as any. On the play, the Vikings pass rush got into the backfield quickly, but Rodgers was able to elude a defender and run out to his left. At first he kept his eyes in the end zone, looking for someone to throw to, but he quickly saw that his best bet was to run the ball in himself. He tucked the ball, gained the first down marker and then made a defender miss before diving into the end zone. The game was never in doubt and by the middle of the fourth quarter, Rodgers was on the bench preparing for next week’s game against the Detroit Lions.

QB Brett Hundley, 3 offensive snaps, Pass: 0 - 1 - 0 - 0 TD / 0 INT
Hundley entered the game in relief for Aaron Rodgers when the game was well in hand. He wasn’t asked to do much and was in for just one series.

RB Christine Michael, 14 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 4 - 0, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (1 targets)
There were some rumors pregame that Michael might see more work and cut into Ty Montgomery’s workload, but that didn’t happen, though there wasn’t much workload to speak of. Michael didn’t even touch the ball in the first half, and saw all his carries in the second half. For the most part, Michael seems to have been reduced to a role as a kick returner.

WR Ty Montgomery, 37 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 23 - 0, Rec: 4 - 17 - 0 (5 targets)
After last week’s huge game by Montgomery, we might have thought we would see him more regularly and consistently but the opposite happened. The Packers didn’t need the run game against Minnesota, so the backfield was an afterthought. Green Bay ran the ball just 15 times, including two on scrambles by Aaron Rodgers. Montgomery struggled a bit when he did get carries, but some of that was not being able to get into a rhythm due to how inconsistently he was used. Even with the game well in hand, Montgomery didn’t see the ball much—he ran the ball just twice in the second half, and not at all in the fourth quarter.

WR Jordy Nelson, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 154 - 2 (11 targets)
Nelson had a ridiculous day, continuing a tear he has been one since Week 8. Saturday saw his highest yardage total of the season, as well as the third game this year where he has scored multiple touchdowns. His nine catches were also the second highest amount this season. Nelson and Aaron Rodgers carved up the Minnesota secondary like so much Christmas ham, with Nelson consistently able to find seams in the coverage and get open for his quarterback to get him the ball. Sometimes it was just a thin seam, as when he split the defenders for a 12-yard reception late in the second quarter. Sometimes it was just outlasting the coverage, as it was when he scored his second touchdown of the game. On that play, Rodgers was under pressure and scrambled to keep the play alive. Nelson did the same, running around the back of the end zone to find an open spot. The defenders covering him faltered just briefly, but it was enough for Rodgers to deliver the ball for a touchdown. More often than not, though, Nelson seemed to be wide open. He consistently was left alone and every time he made the Vikings pay as Rodgers continually hit him for big games.

WR Geronimo Allison, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 66 - 0 (7 targets)
Allison was tied with Davante Adams for the second most targets on the team, and did a fantastic job of getting open for his quarterback. Many of his receptions came when he was wide open, with few defenders in the area. Probably his best catch came in a little tight coverage by safety Harrison Smith. On the play, Allison was running across the field with Smith right behind him. Rodgers delivered the ball a bit low, but Allison did a nice job of extending his body and scooping the ball before it hit the turf.

WR Davante Adams, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 44 - 1 (7 targets)
Adams has been a bit of a “good news/bad news” guy the last few weeks. The good news is he caught his fourth touchdown in five weeks. The bad news is he had yet another big drop in the end zone. On that play, Aaron Rodgers threw a beautiful ball over two defenders and Adams extended his body and got his hands on it. He then bobbled it and dropped it to the turf. What causes people to pull their hair out about Adams is that he can do something like that and yet also make catches like the one he did to score his touchdown in the first quarter. On that play, a 20-yard score, Adams did a great job on his route, pushing his defender inside, and then leaving him behind with a nice cut before Rodgers delivered a perfect pass. Adams is capable of tremendous football, but also seems to be unable to get rid of his ongoing case of drops.

WR Jeff Janis, 7 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (1 targets)
Janis was targeted just once, and ran a very nice route, driving the cornerback backwards and then cutting back for Aaron Rodgers to deliver the ball.

TE Jared Cook, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 37 - 0 (5 targets)
Cook wasn’t a huge part of the offense but had a beautiful reception down the sideline early in the fourth quarter. On the play, Trae Waynes had really good coverage on Cook, but Aaron Rodgers delivered the ball just over Waynes head, where Cook reached up and snatched the ball for a huge 30-yard catch. Earlier on, Cook could have had another great catch along the sideline, but failed to get both feet in bounds.

TE Richard Rodgers, 29 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 20 - 1 (2 targets)
Rodgers did a great job extending for a first down on one catch in his own end, and then scored on his second (and last) target. On that play, Rodgers sliced down the field, keeping the defender outside of the route, caught the ball on the run and dove into the end zone.