2021 Week 11 - That's What Cheese Said

Hear from the head coach and key players following Green Bay's 34-31 loss to the Vikings.

The Packers fell to the division rival Vikings 34-31 on a last-second field goal, bringing Green Bay to 8-3 on the season. In a game that was one of the offense’s, it was also one of the defense’s worst. 

Green Bay went 7-of-11 on third down. Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdowns for 385 yards and finished the game with a passer rating of 148.4 (his highest of the season). The deep ball finally started working with Marquez Valdes-Scantling who had a 75-yard score. It was everything that felt like it had been missing on offense through the first half of the season. 

Could you ask for more?

“Yeah we could, actually,” said LaFleur when he was asked just that post-game. “We started off way too slow. And I think you could feel it. I felt for the first time really all season we were in a pretty good rhythm in the second half.” 

The Packers fell behind early, scoring only three points on the team’s first four possessions. They got into field goal range once more but Mason Crosby missed the chip shot off the left upright. This put Green Bay in a 16-3 deficit, but the team responded. 

The offense scored on its final four possessions, with each drive stretching 74 yards or more. Without running back Aaron Jones in the lineup, AJ Dillon averaged 4.8 yards per carry on 11 attempts, adding another six receptions for 44 yards in the receiving game. 

For the receivers, Davante Adams had his first two-score game of the season, finishing the day with seven receptions for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Marquez Valdes-Scantling ended the game with four receptions for 123 yards and an average of 30.8 yards per reception. Without Allen Lazard active, Equanimeous St. Brown also made a few impactful plays for the offense, including two receptions for 43 yards and an end around for 11 yards.

“I’m really proud of EQ,” Rodgers said after the game, adding that they had a conversation at the end of training camp once he was released. “I just felt like there was gonna be an opportunity for him at some point during the season.”  

Tight end Josiah Deguara also made the most of his opportunity with an increased role on offense. He hauled in his first career touchdown against the Vikings, a 25-yard reception on a third down scramble drill. 

Still, the lack of production in the first half ultimately cost the team in the end.

“I think at times in the last couple years we’ve been so good in the first 15-20 plays that we script, scoring on opening drives, touchdowns. That hasn’t really been the case this year. We’ve been a lot slower-starting. So we’ve gotta look at that,” said Rodgers. He mentioned the team’s struggles in the red zone and in situational offense, adding that sometimes against good teams you just have to put up more points, though he felt the offense could have scored 40 on Sunday. 

The penalties on both sides of the ball also changed the outcome of the game, with the Packers flagged eight times for 92 yards. 

“It’s hard to win in this league, and it’s hard to score points when you’re behind the sticks.” said LaFleur.

“I feel like we were hurting ourselves in the first half a lot, penalties putting ourselves in first-and-long, second-and-really-long situations,” added Adams. “It becomes tough when you’re playing a team like that, with a really good defense, obviously at home, too.”

Defensively, Green Bay had a few opportunities that the team just couldn’t capitalize on, including one interception nullified by a roughing the passer penalty and a second interception that Darnell Savage couldn’t maintain possession of heading to the ground. 

“We’ve gotta play better. We weren’t ourselves today. We didn’t play up to our standard,” said edge rusher Preston Smith who had his first two-sack performance of the season. 

“Too many mistakes out of everybody,” he said. “All of us could’ve played better.”

The Packers held explosive running back Dalvin Cook to 86 yards on the ground with a score, but the Vikings receivers carved up Green Bay’s secondary. Justin Jefferson finished the day with eight receptions for 169 yards and two scores, while Adam Thielen added another eight receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown of his own. 

Minnesota’s 341 passing yards were the most allowed by Green Bay’s defense all season, with a significant chunk of that yardage coming on explosive plays. 

For whatever reason this season, Green Bay has struggled to put together a complete game where all three phases are performing the way they’re designed to. 

“I mean this is the ultimate team sport, right? And we know for us to accomplish all our goals, we need all three phases firing at the highest level possible,” said LaFleur.

“But ultimately, we need everybody. And it has been a little bit of that a lot. And certainly, that is good that you can find different ways to win games, but ultimately, we need everybody peaking at the right time and we haven’t been able to do that consistently within a game.”

It won’t get any easier next week, as the Packers head home to face the 7-3 Los Angeles Rams fresh off a bye. As Green Bay limps towards its own bye in Week 13, it will do so without interim left tackle Elgton Jenkins who tore his ACL against the Vikings. The “next man up” mentality is one the Packers know all too well at this point, and the team is going to have to dig deep to keep pace in a hotly contested NFC. At 8-3, the Packers sit at No. 2 in the conference behind only the 9-2 Cardinals. 

“I think everybody’s well-aware of where we’re at. How important each game is. I mean we’re almost into December now. We’re going against one of the premier teams in the National Football League,” said LaFleur. “They’re most likely going to be right there at the end of it. So we need to play our best ball. So I think it’s pretty easy to get up for a game like this in terms of just, we need everybody’s best in order to go out and beat this football team.”

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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Comments (8)

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Brockrice99's picture

November 23, 2021 at 12:15 pm

We have not gotten a "Luck" game yet... Cardinals got a luck game against us with no receivers and we still won. Chiefs got a luck game against us with a backup QB and barely won. Vikings got a game where they essentially played a preseason CB/EDGE group. All these games where we've gotten so unlucky with COVID and injuries I am tired of it. We deserve a "Luck" game. I don't intend for anyone to get sick or injured on another team, but a little luck in a tough game before a much needed bye would be great.

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HawkPacker's picture

November 23, 2021 at 12:27 pm

We will need it this week Brock.

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mnbadger's picture

November 23, 2021 at 12:31 pm

we may have used up a couple of seasons' worth of luck games last year. This year, we have to play better. GPG!

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Coldworld's picture

November 23, 2021 at 12:57 pm

It’s never a given to beat division rivals, especially away. That seems to have been forgotten.

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Leatherhead's picture

November 23, 2021 at 06:19 pm

We’ll still be no worse than 8-4 going into the break, and we might be able to put a healthy team on the field down the stretch.

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bjkdad44's picture

November 23, 2021 at 10:01 pm

Might

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porupack's picture

November 23, 2021 at 06:39 pm

I agree with the sentiment which you picked up very well from MLF and Rodgers. While the offense had their 385 yards and Rodgers had his 148 passer rating and 4 TDs, that just doesn't tell the full story, The game presented opportunities for a lot more, and GB offense put out something like a 75% output. Probably most folks feel like there should have been at least 2 more TDs, and which we would feel like the Offense was reaching its potential. Seems like Rodgers and others agree. Well collected article. Thanks

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bjkdad44's picture

November 23, 2021 at 10:00 pm

When rogers misses preseason… and takes two weeks of practice off… what do you think is gonna do to timing!? Plus injuries up the wazoo!!!

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