Welcome back to Pack to the Past! Coming off a victory like the one we saw on Sunday will always be a special thrill. I just want to envelop myself in football, listen to any podcasts I can find, and watch tons of Rodgers highlight videos. It’s a great feeling. I hope that you, as a Packers fan, find ways to appreciate the level of entertainment and joy that the Packers bring to their fans. We may not always like what happens on the field but, at least over my lifetime, there’s no other team that has been this entertaining and regularly good. You could say the Patriots have the edge, but I don’t like cheaters and now I don’t like you.
With only one division game down, the Packers still have a lot of moves to make this season. It could be that the Vikings are our kryptonite and ol’ Case Keenum is a regular “Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor”. But that movie sucks. So, let’s hope we get a different plot. Considering Bradford looked like an old granny on MNF and Keenum is probably just Kaepernick-tier without the baggage or bravery, I like our chances.
But, for the sake of the column, let’s look back at a time when the Vikings were relevant and the Green and Gold was divided as it ever was. This week represents a matchup between a top-10 defense and a top-10 offense for the first time this year. Curious about other times in which the Packers and Vikings had elite sides facing off, I went back in time. As soon as I found out it was during the Favre Viking years (a time so dark that I watched no Packer football and wasted a year just to watch Childress’ Vikings lay a big fat egg in the Championship game for nothing but more Favre angst), I came back to this time period. I like it better here.
Still, there was a good deal of information to be gleaned from this exercise. Games with elite talent on at least one side of the ball are typically good ones. We have a lot to look forward to this week, but for now, let’s take a look back.
Green Bay Packers at the Minnesota Vikings
Oct 5, 2009
I really hate to bring this up. With enough time, these games will become simply awkward and less…hurtful. As it stands, it seems like this happened in a far-off, immature time in which Aaron Rodgers looked like a total bro and Brett Favre wore purple like a cowboy who had just listened to his first Prince album.
The Vikings brought a steamroller into this game in the form of a strong defensive line. By the end of the year, the Vikings run defense, led by the Williams wall, was 2nd in the league. Green Bay’s run defense was first. Overall, the teams seemed evenly matched. The Packers were young and untested, however, and that turned out to be the difference.
Rodgers was able to bring the offense down the field against a very competent Vikings defense on the first drive. With a score, Rodgers would be able to set the tone against the home team and put the Packers on the offensive–something that was very important for the team in those days. They were able to avoid a stall at 1st and 20 near midfield and he threw a strike to Jermichael Finley to get the Packers inside the 25.
That’s when he got mugged by Jared Allen and Chad Greenway. The Vikings recovered the fumble and marched diligently down to give Visanthe Shiancoe a touchdown to add to his miracle season. Seriously, what the hell was that all about? Who was that guy?
Rodgers was pissed. He had sat behind this guy for years and here he was, stunting on his team already. No sir. All Aaron did was throw a 62 yard touchdown to Jermichael Finley. It was a play that looked a lot like the throw to Jordy against the Bears this year. He stepped up in the pocket and saw open field. This brought the coverage up just enough for him to float one over the linebackers and into his receiver’s waiting arms about 20 yards downfield. Finley rumbled the rest of the way, tied at 7-7.
The Packers were able to stop Favre on the ensuing drive, but Antoine Winfield intercepted Rodgers on his third drive. The Vikings forced turnovers on 2/3 drives to start the game against Rodgers and both of them came when he was threatening. Favre responded to this one in the same way–throwing a touchdown to another now-nameless Vikings receiver in Sidney Rice. Favre seriously made those guys look like superstars that year.
The best part about this game, however, has to be the fumble forced by Clay Mathews on Adrian Peterson. This was some major foreshadowing to how the season would end. Mathews stood Peterson up and then just robbed him of the football. It’s a play that you might not ever see again–especially considering he ran it in for the touchdown. Check this out:
That’s basically the first play Clay ever made. Young Clay was a total beefcake and, when he was in his prime, the kid was absolutely unique. It’s good to see that again this year. Tied again at 14-14.
Unfortunately, that was the last time the Packers were really competitive in this game. Woodson was able to get a pick on the following Vikings drive but it was taken back on a DPI call. Peterson ran it in and put the Vikings up by 7. The Vikings got the kickoff in the second half and immediately took it all the way down the field again. Within 3 drives, the Packers were down 14. The Vikings defense locked the Packers down for most of the rest of the game and even forced a safety on Rodgers, thanks to a spectacular effort by walking-mullet Jared Allen.
With the Viking’s efficient use of the second half kickoff turnaround, they were able to pin their ears back against the Packers. Green Bay was never able to recover from being down that far, a problem that plagued them until they were able to retool around the 2012 season. The Packers actually out-gained the Vikings 342 to 271 and even outperformed AP on the ground. But there was not much time for Rodgers in the pocket and he had a very inefficient game compared to Favre’s easy-mode offense that just laid down on the field and tired out the Green Bay defense.
The Packers would lose the game at Lambeau later in the year, as well. In that game, the Packers were down early and, again, unable to dig themselves out of the hole. If Peterson fumbling in a bizarre way was foreshadowing for the Viking’s season, then the Packers getting down early and coming up short was a clue to how their season would end in Arizona.
These two teams are about as different as possible from their 2009 counterparts. Rodgers is doing things with this offense that feels downright academic and the Vikings have no answer. Also, I don’t know if need to say this, but Case Keenum isn’t exactly Brett Favre. Let’s see if the Packers can flip the script.