Packers can't stop Dalvin Cook, fall to 5-2 after 28-22 loss to Vikings
GREEN BAY - All week, the Green Bay Packers tried to remind themselves that, yes, they could actually lose Sunday.
They stressed the importance of not overlooking the one-win Minnesota Vikings. They extended platitudes emphasizing how much better the Vikings were than their record. It all seemed a bit forced, the type of thing teams don’t need to do against a good opponent.
Then they played.
The truth is, the Packers were right to say they couldn’t overlook the Vikings. Because with their defense, they can’t overlook anybody.
The levy finally broke on a defense that has shown cracks through much of this early season. The Packers allowed touchdowns on their first four series and were unable to complete a last-ditch comeback, losing 28-22 to the Vikings. Now 5-2, the Packers fall into a temporary tie atop the NFC North pending the outcome of the Chicago Bears' matchup with the New Orleans Saints this afternoon.
The Packers might have salvaged a victory with an extra minute, but time ran out on their final drive. The game ended when Aaron Rodgers fumbled after Vikings defensive end D.J. Wonnum hit him from behind while trying to throw downfield.
Here are five observations from Sunday’s letdown:
If the Vikings left their Week 1 opener against the Packers having nightmares about Davante Adams, Dalvin Cook will surely give the Packers some post-Halloween tremors. Cook has run over the Packers' defense before, but never like Sunday. You know in youth league football when one kid is just so obviously better than everyone else on the field and can do whatever he wants? That's what Cook looked like running against the Packers. He had 226 yards on 32 touches, including 163 rushing yards on 30 carries, with four touchdowns. The back breaker was a 50-yard touchdown on a third-and-9 screen pass. Time and again, the Packers knew exactly what the Vikings were going to do. They just couldn’t stop it. More specific, they did nothing to slow down Cook. It will be interesting to see if Sunday’s performance spurs general manager Brian Gutekunst to add to his defense before Tuesday’s trade deadline. A Super Bowl defense can’t be dominated by one player the way it was Sunday.
No comeback offense
With a lead, the Packers' offense has looked quite good this season. It’s also played with the lead a lot. The Packers scored a touchdown on their opening drive Sunday, taking a 7-0 lead. It was the seventh time in seven games the Packers have scored on their opening drive this season, the only team in the NFL to score on each of their opening possessions. But, similar to when the Packers stalled when falling behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers two weeks earlier, there wasn’t enough juice on offense to overcome a two-possession deficit midway through. The Packers' offense is clearly less dynamic without Aaron Jones in the backfield, but there’s a reason Gutekunst has been rumored to be perusing the receiver market before this week’s trade deadline. Rodgers was 27-for-41 for 291 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, a 110.9 rating. He averaged 7 yards per pass, not the kind of downfield attack needed when trying to come from behind. Davante Adams had three receiving touchdowns, but each came from within 7 yards. The big play is lacking in this offense.
Dean Lowry’s drought ends
In a rare bright spot for the Packers, Dean Lowry saw an impressively long sack drought end. Lowry was unblocked in the first half, and it allowed him to reach Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. It was Lowry’s first sack since Dec. 2, 2018 against the Arizona Cardinals. After that game, you may remember, the Packers fired Mike McCarthy. It had been 26 games since Lowry had a sack. He was due.
JK Scott's versatility
It’s rarely a good thing when your best player is the punter, but that might have been the case for the Packers. Scott only punted once, pinning the Vikings at their own 6-yard line with a 38-yarder in the second half. That set up the Packers’ first defensive stop of the day. More impressively, Scott filled in for Mason Crosby on kickoffs and handled them nicely. Scott didn’t have any touchbacks, but the Vikings never returned any of his kickoffs past the 33-yard line. He opened the second half with a perfectly placed squib kick Vikings returner K.J. Osborn was forced to scoop at the 2-yard line, returning it only to the 15.
Dantzler carted off
A scary moment happened in the first half when Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler was injured on a tackle of Packers rookie AJ Dillon. Dantzler stayed on the field motionless for several minutes after the play before being placed on a backboard. He eventually left the field on a stretcher. Dantzler was listed as questionable to return because of a neck injury and was also being evaluated for a concussion. He did not return. It was a rough week for Dantzler, who was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list.