Game Notes: Packers' blunders, officiating miscues gift-wrap a tie vs Vikings

-- I didn't expect to spend my Sunday breaking down a few key points from a very strange football game at Lambeau Field, but, here we are.

It was the first time the Packers have ended a game in a tie since the 2013 season when Matt Flynn was starting at quarterback in place of Aaron Rodgers, who was still recovering from a collarbone injury. That game was also coincidentally against the Vikings.

The thing is -- this game shouldn't have ended in a tie. The Packers had more than enough chances to seal the deal, but a few missed opportunities paired with horrible officiating -- on both sides -- culminated in a crushing defea...I mean, tie. It's hard to differentiate.

How else are you supposed to do your job?

I mean, seriously? Clay Matthews was flagged for apparently roughing the passer in the fourth quarter, and it was a call that ultimately changed the course of the game from that point on. There was 1:45 on the clock and the Packers had just finished a scoring drive in which Mason Crosby kicked his fifth field goal to give the Packers a 29-21 lead, all thanks to a Ha Ha Clinton-Dix interception. This porous call robbed rookie cornerback Jaire Alexander of his first career interception as well.

According to referee Tony Corrente, Matthews lifted Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins up and drove him to the ground, which... couldn't be further from the truth. Matthews definitely landed on top of Cousins, but not with his full body weight, and that was even evidenced by Matthews putting his left arm out to brace the impact of the fall. Almost as if he was taking every precaution possible to prevent himself from being flagged.

Earlier in the game, Packers defensive lineman Mike Daniels seemingly wrapped Cousins up for a sack but stopped the process of bringing him down. Like when you're playing Madden and the controller disconnects or something. It looked like he thought Cousins had thrown the ball and didn't want to complete the process of bringing him to the ground in danger of being flagged.

It's becoming impossible for these players to do their respective jobs, and even more so with constantly evolving rules that seem to differ every Sunday. Matthews' call arguably cost the Packers a win on Sunday, but if anything is clear, that absolutely wasn't on him.

The promising duo continues to shine brighter than Mike Pettine's head (there's the bald joke).

If the preseason wasn't enough of an indication, Josh Jackson is good at football. He's also good at playing cornerback, specifically, and apparently even more so on punt coverage. Receiver Geronimo Allison blocked a punt early in Sunday's game deep in the Vikings' own territory and Jackson was there to recover it -- conveniently in the end zone -- for a touchdown. He also finished the game with four tackles on defense.

Jaire Alexander, meanwhile, played his best career game to this point, which... obviously isn't saying much because we're two games into a young season, however, it was something to behold on Sunday. He not only finished second on the team in tackles, but he split a sack with linebacker Reggie Gilbert and would've had his first career interception had it not been FOR THAT STUPID PEN--no, nevermind. It's not worth it.

An underlying point in all of this is that defensive coordinator Mike Pettine also used both Jackson and Alexander in a variety of different ways. For example, Alexander's sack came when he blitzed free from the slot. One of Alexander's most endearing qualities to this point has been his ability to disengage from blocks and make the tackles in the open field.

Aaron Jones should fix things right up.

The Packers have had zero issues -- for the most part -- with their running game in the first two games of the season. Jamaal Williams carried the ball 16 times for 59 yards and Ty Montgomery did so five times for 31 yards. At some point, the Packers somewhat abandoned the running game and simply rode a majority of the remainder of the game on Aaron Rodgers' right arm en route to 42 passing attempts.

Aaron Jones would've been the perfect change-of-pace tailback to have given Rodgers' current knee situation to take pressure off of him, which is going to linger for a few weeks. Expect a slight jolt in the Packers' rushing totals over the next few weeks with his return from a two-game suspension he started the season with. However, that won't rid Williams of his duties.

Williams is the better do-it-all player at his position; the better fit for the Packers' offense on a normal occasion. He showed on numerous occasions against the Vikings how potent his ability in blitz pickups is and how vital that is in an offense currently formulated around a one-legged quarterback. But having Jones fresh in the pocket is going to be huge.

Not-so-red zone.

The Packers were 1-for-5 in the red zone on Sunday. Even more so evidenced by Crosby's six field goal attempts -- even though he made five of them. The Packers were playing with a one-legged quarterback, sure, but a 20 percent efficiency rate against a team like the Vikings is downright putrid. You have to be able to take advantage of those opportunities, regardless of what calls go against you.

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (38)

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crabby's picture

September 17, 2018 at 11:11 am

Out if the Jaws of Victory. Enough said.

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Mojo's picture

September 17, 2018 at 11:18 am

On the Mike Daniels play, how was the o-lineman not called for holding? The guy was grabbing his shoulder pads as Daniels forced his way by him towards Cousins.

I can see where holds get missed in the middle of the scrum, but this was right out in the open, right in front of the ref. WTF

Ah, why am I taking this whole thing seriously anyway.

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Razer's picture

September 17, 2018 at 12:05 pm

...Ah, why am I taking this whole thing seriously anyway...

I hear you. The game, the calls, the outcome - ruined a perfectly good Sunday. Your point to Mike Daniels and his being held up is a good one. I have no issue not calling stuff like this IF you are "going to let them play". The stick a wrench in the spokes approach to officiating makes the game hard to play and hard to watch. Watching Daniels stop on the play tells you that no one gets it. Very sad. Why does this bother me so?

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ShanghaiKid's picture

September 17, 2018 at 11:18 am

The penalty on CMIII was big, going 1-5 in the redzone was bigger. GB needs to figure out how to score in the RZ.

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dobber's picture

September 17, 2018 at 12:49 pm

Going 1-5 in the red zone against the Lions would be a real problem. Going 1-5 against a fast, talented team like the Vikings? Not what you want to see, but a little more understandable.

You're right, though: we've all been talking about these tall targets they have acquired and how they should be murder to defend in the red zone. That needs to start surfacing...preferably next week against Washington.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

September 17, 2018 at 01:12 pm

Those big tall targets aren't on the field Dobber. The TD from Adams was overturned. The Jimmy Graham TD was called back. MVS was on the field for 1 play Lewis for 7. Doesn't matter what weapons you have and how good they are if you don't use them.

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dobber's picture

September 17, 2018 at 02:06 pm

Bingo!

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ShanghaiKid's picture

September 17, 2018 at 04:00 pm

I would agree Spader. Having the weapons but not utilizing them is as good as not having them. Not playing Lewis, especially inside the 20 is negligent.

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Charvid's picture

September 17, 2018 at 01:48 pm

They WERE going against the Number 1 D in the League.

Not disagreeing with you, just sayin'.

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ShanghaiKid's picture

September 17, 2018 at 03:57 pm

@Davy Good offenses find a way to score. Lacking creativity and looking like the falcons inside the 20 is a problem.

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Handsback's picture

September 17, 2018 at 11:58 am

I only watched the 4th qtr and OT in the game and here is what I saw....no King, leaky secondary. A one-legged Rodgers almost beat a good Viking team. CMIII got caught in a judgement call. Hope this isn't a pattern. The oline played better than last week and the dline is strong.
Now going forward Pettine has to find out who can play in the back end of his D. Not sure how Aaron Jones will help a lot. Ty seemed to have his way running the game. The Packers didn't use him that much because of protection. The same can be said for Jones...they need pass blockers in the RBs and Williams is that guy until Rodgers is healthier.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

September 17, 2018 at 01:13 pm

If all you want is a pass blocker why not use Lewis?

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Handsback's picture

September 17, 2018 at 05:53 pm

You do need a threat of a RB.....actually in the amount of plays I saw... Lewis got thrown around a little bit.

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Lphill's picture

September 17, 2018 at 12:17 pm

2 weeks 2 games and 2 emotional roller coasters for us , how about next week an easy mistake free win so we all can catch our breaths.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

September 17, 2018 at 12:22 pm

Yes the high aspiration of a running back who can not average 4 ypc......

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Packer_Fan's picture

September 17, 2018 at 12:37 pm

What can be done with the poor officiating? The Matthews call was absolutely terrible. A perfect form tackle that he backed off from pouncing on Cousins. And the ref still called it wrong. The NFL has instituted a rule that can't be officiated objectively. And we have 14 more games and the playoffs to watch this debacle. These bad calls are going to be repeatedly each week if something isn't changed.

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Chuck Farley's picture

September 17, 2018 at 01:37 pm

I was livid when I saw that call. What is he supposed to do stop in mid air.
Then the big light went on. Both of his bad calls were because he leaped into the air to drive himself into the QB. They are now calling that and have been consistently calling that. He left is feet. Had he just tacked the guy no call would have been made.

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dobber's picture

September 17, 2018 at 02:11 pm

He didn't leap. He didn't leave his feet. Last week, yes. This week? No.

Watch through the hit...the left foot is on the ground. If anything, Cousins's natural throwing motion has lifted himself off the ground.

And, as others have noted, he breaks his fall with his left hand...the hand on the same side as the official. Plenty of crappy calls to go around, but this one immediately changed the outcome of the game.

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Christopher Gennaro's picture

September 17, 2018 at 06:20 pm

Hell of a play by Matthews, don't know where it goes from here, but they really need to figure this out. Its has all the making of catch rule all over again. Also watched Daniels not wrapping up cousins, cause he thought a flag would be thrown. That in itself is scary going forward

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mamasboy's picture

September 17, 2018 at 07:46 pm

Sorry Chuck, he did just tackle the guy. I don't know which play you were watching, but it couldn't be that one.

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WinUSA's picture

September 17, 2018 at 12:47 pm

BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT!!!!!!!!!!!! The refs GAVE this game to the Vikings!!!!!!!!!!!!! I haven't been so livid since the fail Mary, which coincidentally had the fake refs replaced with the real refs within 3 days after a lengthy hold out.

The touchdown to Graham that was called back was a fricken travesty. On replay the announcers were so stunned they couldn't even address the call, other to say that they didn't see the infraction.

The call against Mathews...well, that was chicken shit too, albeit, Mathews has seen his better days and his worst days have been the last two weeks- not holding his position, running by players, falling down while being tackled by the turf ghost, and of course the TWO not ONE RTP call. It might have been a chicken shit call by the ref, but I've seen enough of Mathews for this season. Even Rodgers couldn't address the call in the post game interview. You could see he was pissed too....for both the above reasons.

Only by the grace of the Almighty intervention did we escape with a tie.

And THAT's what I've got to say about THAT!!!!!

Let me know if I was too wishy washy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Lare's picture

September 17, 2018 at 01:12 pm

IMO, out of all the terrible calls the worst one was the failure to eject the player that delivered the helmet-to-helmet hit on Adams. It was done purposely, which is exactly what the new rule is supposed to penalize players for by removing them from the game. Perhaps the NFLPA should include the officials in their lawsuit against the NFL on concussions.

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WinUSA's picture

September 17, 2018 at 01:15 pm

That TOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Barazinho's picture

September 17, 2018 at 01:33 pm

Also, Harrison's elbow to the head on Adams' dropped TD pass. I thought those were supposed to be caught by the almighty video review people. If they were too busy trying to figure out if it was a catch to see/call the elbow to the head, their system isn't working.

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Chuck Farley's picture

September 17, 2018 at 01:42 pm

the pack were lucky as hell. When you give up 420 yards passing and 4 td's by air, two uncontested, you should lose.
The Vikes took advantage of two has beens House and Williams. They scouted and knew they were both on the team and were ready for them to come into the game for injury replacements. Pretty dam good coaching and scouting.
Adams had the ball in the end zone but again, a well coached team or smart guys stripped the ball at the last second saving the game.
Hell the vikes were miraculous when you think of it. They left 9 points off the board for missed field goals. Hell if it wasnt for our field goals we would not have been in the game.
420 yards passing doesnt tell me Petunia isnt any better than Capers

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Oppy's picture

September 17, 2018 at 06:39 pm

Hey, at least we're Packers fans, and not those drooling idiot fans that get their kicks from polishing the knobs of a bunch of fully grown losers that wear purple pajamas and have zero trophies in their championship case, amirite Chuck? You know what I mean? At least we can look our mothers and children in their eyes and say proudly, we're packers fans, Can you imagine how empty and gutless, just pathetic, it must be to admit you like the Vikings?

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WinUSA's picture

September 17, 2018 at 10:49 pm

Ouch. Nice smack down Oppy... I think you made him cry.

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Johnblood27's picture

September 17, 2018 at 07:35 pm

Be Gone Troll!

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WinUSA's picture

September 17, 2018 at 12:49 pm

PS....and calling two passing plays in the last two minutes within the 10.... hell WTF was McCarthy thinking!!!!!!! Clock, Clock, Clock management is what the Head Coach is suppose to take care of.....still pissed 24 hours later!

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Chuck Farley's picture

September 17, 2018 at 01:45 pm

I do not beleive a head coach should be involved in called plays. clock management and red flag management goes to hell. Zimmer always has three time out left at the end of the game and they practice on offense to get plays off quickly. Rodgers was uncertain and confused often by the D and used up precious time outs.

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Johnblood27's picture

September 17, 2018 at 07:36 pm

Welcome to Mike McCarthy as a highly successful football coach.

This guy is not a championship coach.

He doesn't suck, his record tells that tale.

He is not a Championship coach.

That doesn't hurt until the team is championship calibre and he fails to allow them to blossom.

He has done it enough for anyone with a brain and a little football knowledge to see.

He is a fine human being, he is a pretty good football coach, he is in no way shape or form a Championship football coach.

Period.

mic drop... again!

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Gforcetrivers's picture

September 17, 2018 at 01:02 pm

Maybe they need to put a flag on the QBs. Pull the flag and the play stops.

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TXCHEESE's picture

September 17, 2018 at 01:06 pm

The Matthews call was simply outrageous. Someone should keep an eye on Correnti's bank account the next few months.

AR. I know he was playing basically on one leg, but how do you just drop the ball in such a critical situation. My gosh, he's been playing ball since he was 7 probably.

2 weeks in, and I don't see anything new or special on offense or defense with the new coaches. Looks like the same old folding chair act for our defense in the 4th qtr. I know they had the bad call, but for Pete's sake, get a stop!

I wonder if the Vikings are shopping for a new kicker today?

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Chuck Farley's picture

September 17, 2018 at 01:46 pm

Why did Mathews have to leave his feet and take a flying leap. Of course they are going to call that all day all night. If he wrapped the guy up or tackled him no foul.
Flying leaps, are fouls.

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Largo-Lor's picture

September 17, 2018 at 02:15 pm

Did you even watch the play???? His left foot never left the ground. And unless he was shuffling to the QB, he had to take a step with his right. He did wrap up and even took precautions with his hand to soften the landing...textbook according to the new "rules"...yeah, that's a joke.

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mamasboy's picture

September 17, 2018 at 08:08 pm

Chucky, do I have your limited attention span. I'll say this again, HE DIDN'T LEAVE HIS FEET, watch the play. I'm starting to think that you're just one of those attention seekers, Chuck. You don't have legitimate, well thought out views, so you repeatedly spout nonsense. Thereby, getting the attention you crave. I work with someone like you, and can't stand him. We should all ignore Chuck's comments, rather than fulfilling his need for recognition. I'm never paying attention to what this clown says again. That's what he's after!

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croatpackfan's picture

September 17, 2018 at 04:21 pm

Zachary, in the match against the Viking 2013 (at Lambeau), the starting QB was Scott, but was replaced by early second half with Matt Flynn

Just to mention...

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Curt's picture

September 17, 2018 at 10:22 pm

I have yet to find one person among my circle of friends (who are mostly Bear fans by the way) that believe the Matthews hit was roughing the passer.

The NFL has an obvious problem. I've gone from going to games to watching at home, to now not watching live anymore.

Next step .....

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