1. Packers use new wrinkle on punt block
Rookie Devante Downs was responsible for blocking the guy who blocked the punt that put the Vikings in a 7-0 hole midway through the first quarter of Sunday’s 29-29 tie with the Packers at Lambeau Field. “Just got to look at the formation and get everyone blocked,” he said. “It’s not something that can ever happen again.” Downs was taken off the punt team after that mistake and replaced by receiver Brandon Zylstra. Packers receiver Geronimo Allison broke through the gap between Downs and linebacker Eric Wilson. Downs should have controlled the gap longer. Meanwhile, the Packers surprised Wilson by bringing cornerback Josh Jackson as a last-second extra rusher off the right edge.
2. Kendricks confused, frustrated by call
Linebacker Eric Kendricks had good reason to wonder what he did to deserve the 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty that helped the Packers kick a field goal and take a 17-7 lead as the first half ended. “I honestly don’t know what to do anymore,” he said. “I thought [Aaron Rodgers] had the ball the whole time and that I had a sack. I am going to keep trying to play by the rules.” Kendricks hit Rodgers in the midsection and tackled him as he was throwing incomplete. Zimmer wasn’t happy. “You have a target area of about the size of a strike zone,” he said. “And then you can’t fall on top of them, you can’t hit them in the knees, you can’t him them low, can’t hit them in the head. What do you want us to do? Hopefully, they figure this thing out.”
3. Cook looking good, making ’em miss
Dalvin Cook had one of the prettier 4-yard runs you’ll ever see. Running a basic play off left tackle near the end of the first half, Cook came to a dead stop, causing two linemen to miss tackles. Then he bolted forward for a nice gain. “He doesn’t look like he’s had knee surgery to me,” tight end Kyle Rudolph said. According to Pro Football Focus, Cook led NFL players in forcing 10 missed tackles in the Week 1 win over the 49ers. Five came running the ball, while the other five came as a receiver. The Star Tribune’s unofficial tally for Sunday had Cook causing seven missed tackles. He’d really be something if the offensive line came together. He looked good Sunday, but he also had only 38 yards on 10 carries and 52 yards receiving on five catches.
4. Cousins’ pinpoint accuracy from 62 yards
Sixty-two yards. From the Vikings 17 — 8 yards behind the line of scrimmage — to the Packers 21. That’s how far quarterback Kirk Cousins launched a perfectly placed pass onto the fingertips of tightly covered Stefon Diggs, who was in full stride on a 75-yard touchdown. “I’m watching that play and thinking, ‘That’s why you bring that guy here,’ ” Rudolph said. “Today, we showed we can make plays down the field. That throw was perfect.” So were many others, including the speed on the 14-yard touchdown to Laquon Treadwell and the tight-window throw on Adam Thielen’s 22-yard score. So were at least two of the bullets that Treadwell couldn’t handle.
5. Richardson keeps bringing the heat
Zimmer’s eyes were opened wider after Week 1 to the limitless interior rushing ability of a hungry, contract-year-playing Sheldon Richardson. For good reason. According to Pro Football Focus, Richardson’s seven pressures on 30 rush snaps against 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led NFL interior linemen. Sunday, Richardson had a team-high three quarterback hits and half a sack that came off a beautiful swim move on the game’s opening drive. Richardson got to Aaron Rodgers first but shared the sack with Everson Griffen, who also raced by his blocker. Richardson also played a big role in the game ending in a tie. He forced a holding penalty that negated a touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham. The Packers settled for a field goal.