1. Down and distance favorable
The Vikings opened the game with eight consecutive runs by Adrian Peterson and Joe Webb. The Packers looked lost, enabling the Vikings to move 53 yards for a field goal. The key was easy to spot: favorable down-and-distance situations that forced the Packers to choose between focusing on Peterson or Webb. Webb zig-zagged for a 17-yard gain on third-and-3 from the Vikings 39-yard line. Later, Peterson gained 7 yards on second-and-2 when the Vikings went with a two-tight end set and brought big receiver Devin Aromashodu in to block down on the right side. Peterson ran for a first down off Aromashodu's block.
2. Why throw on third-and-2?
Webb threw an ill-advised -- extremely -- pass while in the grasp of linebacker Erik Walden on third-and-2 from the Packers 48-yard line on the Vikings' second possession. The ball fluttered in the air before being swatted down by right tackle Phil Loadholt. Stupid throw? Yes. But why put Webb in position to throw the ball on third-and-2 from the 48 to begin with? He has Peterson in the backfield, plus Webb had just rushed easily for 11 yards around right end on the first play of that drive. On the Vikings' next possession, Webb again threw the ball up for grabs while in the grasp on third-and-15. He was flagged for intentional grounding, which cost the Vikings 10 yards and ended up with the Packers getting the ball back at their 36-yard line following a punt. Again, why put Webb in a position to fail? After the first drive of the game, the Vikings simply threw too often, given that the only strengths they had were Webb and Peterson running the ball.
3. Remembering Rosenfels via 20-20 hindsight
Somewhere, Sage Rosenfels had to be smiling. You remember Sage, eh? The 34-year-old backup QB known for his poise and accuracy in difficult situations, of which Saturday night's game definitely would have qualified? The Vikings chose to release him on Aug. 31, eating his $500,000 guarantee so they could keep 24-year-old McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who was inactive all season. It took awhile, but the Vikings might be regretting that move this morning. Rosenfels' preseason numbers: 68.0 completion percentage, two touchdowns and a 122.9 passer rating. Bethel-Thompson's preseason numbers: 50.0 completion percentage, one touchdown, two interceptions and a 57.9 passer rating.
4. Offsides and another 12-men penalty
The good news is the Vikings offense didn't have 12 men in the huddle, à la the NFC title game at New Orleans three years ago. But this time, special teamers lined up with 12 men at an inopportune time. The Packers kicked a field goal on fourth-and-4 at the Vikings 14. But wait. The field goal defense had 12 men on the field, as Jasper Brinkley couldn't get off in time. The Packers got a first down at the 9 and scored on a pass to John Kuhn on the next play for a 24-3 lead midway through the third quarter. Ouch. Meanwhile, in the first half, the Vikings had the Packers in a third-and-2 situation at the Green Bay 26 when defensive tackle Kevin Williams lined up in the neutral zone on a play on which Ryan Grant appeared to be stopped just short of a first down. Defensive offsides calls have been a problem for this team all season, although not Williams in particular. After Williams was flagged on Saturday, the Packers scored a touchdown nine plays later to take a 7-3 lead with 28 seconds left in the first quarter.
5. Goal-line Freddie's stop goes for naught
Two weeks after sacking Matt Schaub for a 14-yard loss on third-and-goal at the 1, Vikings backup nose tackle Fred Evans was a force again on the goal line. With the Packers leading 7-3 late in the second quarter, Evans couldn't be knocked off his spot in the middle. He had run stops of fullback John Kuhn for no gain on first-and-goal at the 2 and third-and-goal at the 2. The Packers had to settle for a field goal after getting a 32-yard catch-and-run by Greg Jennings on fourth-and-5 from the Vikings 34. But Evans' efforts went for naught when the Vikings offense went three-and-out on the next series, enabling Green Bay to go 62 yards on five plays and take a 17-3 lead with 38 seconds left in the half.