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Week 12 Game Recap: Green Bay Packers 17, Minnesota Vikings 24


What you need to know

Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers lost to the Minnesota Vikings, 24-17 on Sunday Night Football to drop their record to 4-6-1 and all but eliminated them from playoff contention. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had one of his worst statistical games of the season, completing 17 of 28 passes for 198 yards and one touchdown. Running back Aaron Jones continued to be solid, rushing 17 times for 72 yards and a touchdown, while also catching three passes for 21 yards. Davante Adams caught five passes for 69 yards and a touchdown, while fellow wideout Marques Valdes-Scalding caught one pass for three yards on two targets. Rookie Equanimeous St. Brown was second among the Packers wideouts with three catches for 54 yards. Tight End Jimmy Graham caught only two passes for 34 yards on four targets.

Minnesota Vikings

A prime-time game against a division rival has not gone well for the Vikings so far this season, but they were able to flip the script today and pull out the tough win against the Packers. Kirk Cousins looked a lot like the guy they thought they were getting for that massive contract, Dalvin Cook got things going for the first time this season, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs returned to form, and the defense held Aaron Rogers in check. It was an all-around team win with contributions on offense, defense, and special teams. The rushing attack failed to surpass 100 combined yards, but the important stat is that they rushed it 29 times. The Vikings have leaned on Cousins all season long and made it a point to run the ball more in the coming weeks. Cook has fresh legs after missing a big chunk of the season due to injury and is going to be needed more than ever. One frustrating aspect of the game has been Dan Bailey. He missed another 2 kicks this week and coach Zimmer was quoted saying he would go for it on 4th down in the second half rather than have the game decided by kicking again against the Packers. Bailey has struggled this season after missing training camp and not being signed until the season had already started. The Vikings travel to New England on the east coast and then hop a plane to Seattle on the west coast in the next 2 weeks. It is a brutal stretch of schedule that is going to go a long way in deciding if they make the playoffs this season. First up is Tom Brady and the Patriots next week.

Green Bay Packers

QB Aaron Rodgers, 53 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 28 - 198 - 1 TD / 0 INT
Aaron Rodgers completed 17 of 28 passes for 198 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. With this loss, the Packers are no longer in playoff contention, which rarely happens with Rodgers is your quarterback. The Vikings did a great job putting pressure on Rodgers throughout the night, including sacking him four times and forcing Rodgers to get the ball out early on several other attempts. The 198 passing yards was a season low for Rodgers, and only the second time this season that he failed to register at least 250 passing yards. Rodgers has only thrown one interception to 20 touchdowns, but the combination of the Packers defense and young skill position players have made it a tough year in Green Bay. In this game, the Vikings had a strong defensive gameplan that focused on getting pressure to Rodgers and limiting what his receivers could do coming off the line. This worked very well in addition to the Vikings offense dominating the time of possession, and although the Packers were within two scores, the game never really felt that close due to the Vikings have the momentum the entire second half. Rodgers only touchdown pass came with the Packers driving at the Vikings 15 yard line. Rodgers took the snap under center with Davante Adams lined up out wide to his left. Rodgers took a quick drop and was looking to Adams the entire way, throwing the pass behind Adams to his back-shoulder at about the five yard line, and Adams did the rest, turning to catch the ball and then running across the goal line.

RB Aaron Jones, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 72 - 1, Rec: 3 - 21 - 0 (5 targets)
Aaron Jones rushed 17 times for 72 yards and a touchdown, while also catching three passes for 21 yards on five targets against the Vikings. Jones continued his strong play on the ground, and although he averaged only 4.2 yards per carry, he was still a big part of the Packers moving the football, especially in the first half. Jones was also very active in the passing game, tying for the second most targets on the night with five. Jones has made big strides in the passing game this season, and it is clear that the Packers want him to be on the field more in those situations because they have stopped giving back up Jamaal Williams those touches. Jones touchdown run came with the Packers driving on the Vikings six yard line. Jones was lined up in the backfield and Rodgers took the snap with his receiver coming in motion, pivoted towards the oncoming motion, before pitching it backhand to Jones, who was diving to the left side of the formation. Jones took the pitch and used his speed to get to the left sideline, beating all the Vikings defenders before jogging into the endzone untouched.

RB Jamaal Williams, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0
Jamaal Williams rushed one time for five yards in the Packers loss to the Vikings on Sunday night. Williams has now only seen three touches in his last three games and only enters the game to give Jones a quick breather from time to time.

WR Davante Adams, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 69 - 1 (8 targets)
Davante Adams caught five passes for 69 yards and a touchdown on eight targets in the Packers loss to the Vikings on Sunday night. Adams once again led the Packers in every receiving category, and scored his 10th touchdown of the season. That touchdown marked the third straight season he has recorded double digit receiving touchdowns, making him the only player in the league to record that feat. Adams also went over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career in this game, something that had eluded him the past two seasons as a starter. Adams, like much of the Packers receivers, went long stretches in this game without a target, as the Vikings were dominating the time of possession on offense and getting quick stops on defense. Coming into the Packers last possession, Adams had only three catches for 24 yards and a touchdown, but managed to pad his stats with two catches for 45 yards on the final drive. Adams touchdown came with the Packers lined up at the Vikings 15 yard line. Adams was lined up out to the left sideline against Xavier Rhodes and ran a straight go-route that called for him to look for a back shoulder pass at around the five yard line. Rodgers delivered a perfect pass in-stride to Adams, and Adams did a really nice job of catching the ball in that position and then pivoting so that he could get himself across the goal line. Adams is without a doubt the pre-eminent red zone receiver in the NFL today, as he has figured out a way to get pockets of separation and use his athleticism to create space in tight windows.

WR Equanimeous St. Brown, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0, Rec: 3 - 53 - 0 (5 targets)
Equanimeous St. Brown caught three passes for 54 yards on five targets in the Packers loss to the Vikings on Sunday. St. Brown was targeted early and often, recording four targets in the first half. St. Brown also had two catches for 38 yards that went a long way in setting up Jones rushing touchdown. St. Brown is a big-bodied receiver that adds a different dimension to the Packers passing game. He and Valdes-Scalding have a bright future in Green Bay, although it is somewhat premature to target him for the fantasy stretch run, as Valdes-Scalding has still performed better over the course of the season. Next week should add some clues though, as the Packers could start to place more emphasis on developing their young talent with the playoffs not in their future this season.

WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (2 targets)
Valdes-Scantling caught one pass for three yards against the Vikings on Sunday Night Football. Valdes-Scalding had been a big contributor over the first ten games of the season, but he has since faded the last several weeks, even with Randall Cobb and Geranimo Allison unable to play. Scalding was only targeted twice on the night, while fellow rookie Equanimeous St. Brown caught three passes for 53 yards on five targets.

TE Jimmy Graham, 22 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 34 - 0 (4 targets)
Jimmy Graham caught two passes for 34 yards on four targets in the Packers loss to the Vikings on Sunday night. Graham was active, but did not start in this game, seeing only limited snaps until the final drive of the night for the Packers. It was on this drive that Graham caught both of his passes. It was only the second time in his last five games that Graham caught more than one pass, and it will be difficult to trust him moving forward because the Packers are out of playoff contention, and he has been playing at less than 100%, physically.


Minnesota Vikings

QB Kirk Cousins, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 29 - 38 - 342 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 17 - 0
It has been an up and down season for Cousins, but this week was one of those high points. He surpassed 300 yards, added 3 touchdowns, ran the ball when needed, and most importantly, did not turn the ball over. He did take 2 sacks by staying in the pocket too long, but he was able to tuck the ball away and not fumble like he has in previous games this season. The first touchdown drive was a result of back to back 20+ yard plays. Cousins hit Diggs on a 24-yard slant the play before he swung it out to Cook for a 26-yard touchdown. Cousins found Cook on the outlet pass and let his young running back weave through defenders and into the end zone for the score. Green Bay took poor angles to the ball and Cook made them pay with the touchdown. The second touchdown was a beautiful 30-yard throw to Diggs. After the play action fake to Cook, Cousins found Diggs wide open down the side line and into the end zone. A crossing route between Diggs and Thielen caused his defender to get confused and fall, leaving Diggs wide open for the easy score. The third and final passing touchdown came on a scramble play. Cousins was flushed out of the pocket by the Green Bay pass rush and let loose a pass to Thielen just before he crossed the line of scrimmage. Thielen had settled into a void behind the linebackers and was able to dive his way 14 yards into the end zone. Cousins made the right decision throwing the ball rather than trying to run for the first down as he would have been stopped well short. With 2 games on the road in New England and Seattle, Cousins will be able to prove whether or not he is worth the massive contract he got in the coming weeks.

RB Dalvin Cook, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 29 - 0, Rec: 3 - 47 - 1 (3 targets)
The lack of success on the ground for the Vikings continues to frustrate fans but Cook showed flashes of why he was drafted this week against the Packers. His longest rush was only 9 yards and he averaged 2.9 yards per carry, but he made a big impact in the passing game this week. The Vikings failed to surpass 100 yards on the ground this week but committed to running the ball 29 times. Cook saw 10 of those carries while Murray was given 11. The big play for Cook this week was the first touchdown drive for the Vikings. After a big gain from Diggs, Cook leaked out of the backfield on a wheel route. Cousins threw a perfect pass to hit him in stride and gave him a chance to follow a block and then weave through the defense for a 26-yard touchdown. The defense took poor angles to the ball and Cook made them pay for the touchdown. He caught both of his other targets and had more yards through the air than he did on the ground.

RB Latavius Murray, 28 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 33 - 0
The return of Cook was always going to cut into the production of Murray, but he is still the trusted back in crunch time. Murray has a better history of ball security and was used more late in the game when trying to run out the clock. Cook may have been the big play style back, but Murray got the tough yards and helped to kill the clock and get the win this week. Murray was given 1 more carry than Cook and ended up averaging 3 yards per carry. The Vikings scored from 26, 30, and 14 yards out and did not have any goal to go situations to use Murray for short yardage this week. He did not have a single target in the passing game as those situations went to Cook. The Vikings are still trying to strike a balance between running and passing the ball and a lot of that will start by establishing a split between Murray and Cook. Murray remains highly touchdown dependent but is still seeing a fair amount of work for the Vikings.

WR Stefon Diggs, 66 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 12 - 0, Rec: 8 - 77 - 1 (11 targets)
It can be had to co-exist in an offense dominated by Thielen, but Diggs continues to carve out a big chunk every week. He continues to show that he has some of the best hands in the league and seems to make a big play every week. Diggs kicked off the first scoring drive with a 24-yard catch and run across the middle and made a tough catch on a ball behind him to get a first down on the final drive to run out the clock for the Vikings. Diggs also had a 12-yard end around rush for the longest play on the ground for the Vikings this week. The touchdown play was a thing of beauty and was the second longest pass of the game for the Vikings. After the play action fake to Cook, Cousins found Diggs wide open down the side line and into the end zone. A crossing route between Diggs and Thielen caused his defender to get confused and fall, leaving Diggs wide open for the easy score. This was high 6th touchdown on the season and Diggs has a realistic chance at over 1000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns if he keeps up his current pace.

WR Adam Thielen, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 125 - 1 (9 targets)
It was a slow start for Thielen, but everything eventually went his way by the end of the game. He had already burned the Packers for 130+ yards and a touchdown when they played earlier this season and ended the game with a very similar line this week. Thielen kicked things off with a 33-yard catch in traffic as he was falling to the ground. This was the longest play through the air for the Vikings and a great way to get things started. It was not a graceful start after Thielen collided with Diggs on the first drive and caused a massive loss on a short play, but he just kept running his routes and chipping away. Thielen ran quick outs and shallow crosses to do most of his damage and then scored his touchdown on a scramble play. Cousins was flushed from the pocket and took off towards the line like he was going to run for the first down. He then found Thielen who had settled into the void behind the linebackers for an easy first down. However, Thielen would not be denied and dove across the goal line for the third Viking touchdown of the game. It was just the cherry atop another dominant game for Thielen.

TE Kyle Rudolph, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 63 - 0 (7 targets)
Cousins finally seemed to realize that he had a weapon in Rudolph this week and targeted the big tight end 7 times. This was good for 3rd on the team behind Diggs and Thielen and that is where he should be all season long. Rudolph snagged all 7 of his targets and even made an acrobatic one-handed diving catch across the middle for a first down. Rudolph did not make an impact in the red zone, but the Vikings scored from outside of it on 2 of their 3 touchdowns this week. Rudolph is a big weapon that the Vikings have not been using this season. He should see a greater volume as the rushing attack gets going. Rudolph fits the play action pop pass offensive style perfectly and that is something the Vikings could thrive on. Look for him to establish himself in the coming games this season.