Packers Drive Rewind: Rodgers Owns the Vikings’ Secondary
Let’s keep it positive for this week’s Packers Drive Rewind and focus on Green Bay’s game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter.
Down 34-27, the Packers get the ball at their own 22-yard line with 7:54 to play.
Aaron Rodgers overcomes a sack and a penalty, and leads the Packers on an 11-play touchdown drive that ties the game at 34. Green Bay’s defense was so impressed with Rodgers’ effort that it decided to let the Vikings march right back down the field and win the game on their ensuing possession.
Play 1: Rodgers to James Jones for 12 yards
This is what happens when Rodgers can just stand in the pocket, find a favorable matchup, and exploit it. It looks so easy. Jones is one-on-one with A..J. Jefferson and it looks like Jefferson doesn’t want anything to do with him. Jones takes advantage of the loose coverage and runs a nice hitch route for the easy catch. If the Packers offensive line can pass block like this consistently throughout the playoffs, Green Bay will win the Super Bowl.
Play 2: Rodgers sacked for an eight-yard loss by Everson Griffen
Remember the last play where the Packers’ offensive line blocked so well? The opposite happened here. Griffen beats Don Barclay on his outside shoulder and Rodgers is a smidge late in recognizing it and stepping up in the pocket before being thrown down by Griffen. There’s no doubt that Barclay has boosted the Packers’ running game, but he’s a liability in pass protection. He’s going to need some help in Saturday’s rematch.
After a two-yard pass to Jermichael Finley, Barclay is flagged for a false start, leaving the Packers with a third and 21 at their own 23.
Play 4: Rodgers to Finley for 20 yards
John Kuhn gives Barclay a little bit of help, which leaves Barclay’s side open for Rodgers to scramble. Rodgers has to scamper around because Jared Allen gets upfield on Marshall Newhouse and Kevin Williams ends up in the backfield after a crazy-looking spin move. It kind of looks like Williams ends up back there almost by accident. From there, it’s all Aaron Rodgers. Not many other quarterbacks can make this play. Finley does a nice job of recognizing where Rodgers is heading, then floating to an open space in the zone. Rodgers lofts a perfect pass over Jefferson, who came up just a little too far and put too much space between him and Finley. Finley does a nice job to catch the ball and get both feet down.
Play 5: Rodgers to Jarrett Boykin for 7 yards
It’s fourth-and-1 and Rodgers hurries the Packers up to the line. Gutsy call to go for it here, but it’s the right call. The Vikings looked flat-footed when the ball was snapped, and the Packers probably could have easily gotten the first down with an off-tackle run behind Barclay. Instead, Rodgers again picks on his friend Jefferson, who is locked man-to-man against Boykin. The drive continues because Boykin makes the catch despite pass interference and his body getting twisted in all sorts of strange directions.
After an incompletion on first down, Rodgers hits Finley for six yards on the next play. Finley was great on Sunday.
Play 8: Rodgers to Jennings for 14 yards
This throw reminded me of Rodgers hitting Jennings in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. A simple seam-route from the slot and Jennings gets just open enough for Rodgers to fire in a perfect pass and get a nice gain. It’s obvious that Jennings prefers to work out of the slot these days. It helps that Marcus Sherels was the defender here. Jennings will own Sherels every time. This is probably a play where Rodgers recognized the mismatch before the snap and had to contain his excitement just long enough for Jennings to make the route work.
Play 9: DuJuan Harris up the middle for 11 yards
The Vikings are on their heels now. No matter what they do, they can’t slow down Rodgers. Two safeties are back deep and the linebackers come off the line before the snap. Perfect time to run the ball, and Harris makes the most of it. Josh Sitton gets to the second level quickly and Harris does what he does best: hide behind his bigger lineman and make a decisive cut once a hole opens.
Harris runs it again for one yard, setting up second and 9 on the Vikings’ 18.
Play 11: Nelson draws a 16-yard pass interference on Jefferson
Rodgers appears to check out of whatever the original call was and goes back into shotgun. I’m guessing he saw Jefferson line up against Nelson with no help whatsoever and thought it was just too good to pass up. It works, as Nelson is too much for Jefferson and a pass interference penalty is called.
Play 11: Rodgers to Nelson for a two-yard touchdown
If you don’t turn around and find the ball, Rodgers will burn you every time. Even if you play lock-down coverage, if you don’t find the ball against Rodgers, he’s so accurate that he’ll throw it anyway and complete the pass more often than not. Once again Jefferson gets picked on. His back is to Rodgers and Rodgers puts it in the perfect spot for Nelson to make the catch and tie the game.
Too bad the Packers defense couldn’t hold and give Rodgers another shot to win the game.——————