After being blown out by the Green Bay Packers, with the Metrodome becoming more and more like a Packer home crowd as the Vikings fans left early, the Vikings fired Head Coach Brad Childress on Monday morning. This is the second game in a row where the opposing coach has been fired after being blown out by the Packers.
The Packers (7-3) visit the Falcons (8-2) this week. I don't know what could possibly happen in that game that could result in Falcons Coach Mike Smith being fired the next day, so I think he can rest easy. But the week after that, the 3-7 49ers visit the Packers, and Coach Mike Singletary might have a little more to worry about. * Or, as Scott Clendening put it, "Singletary better watch out."
For a game that ended in a blowout bad enough to be the final straw leading to the firing of the coach, how come I was so uncomfortable for the first quarter and a half of the game? Well, that is the sort of thing that happens when you gain a total of 15 yards on offense in the first 18 minutes of the game. The Packers' defense played a great game from the first snap, a run for no gain by Adrian Peterson. It is very obvious that Dom Capers' defensive game plan was to put lots of pressure on Favre, and to never let him get comfortable. Lots of players jumping around on defense, extra rushers coming from different directions on different plays. On the first couple of series, the Packers brought extra rushers, or at least had people jumping around creating confusion about who was rushing, on almost every play. On the second drive, the Vikings were able to string together three big plays to get close enough for a field goal, their only points in the game, but other than that drive, and the one that ended with Tramon Williams' interception just before the half, the defense was in complete control.
The offense was a different story. As noted, the game was 18 minutes old before the Packers could gain more than 15 yards (as it happened, they quadrupled their offensive yardage on one play, the 47 yard pass to Jennings). The Packers only scored a field goal to tie up the game on that drive, and we all know that you can't afford to have a close game against Favre. There is just too much risk of the old Favre magic returning, as it almost did in the first game this year at Lambeau Field.
The Packers went on to score 14 more points before halftime, and 14 more points in the second half. From about the midpoint of the second quarter, it was all Packers on both sides of the ball. From my point of view, the best thing about the way this game unfolded was the fact that the Packers kept their foot on the gas until there were 10 minutes left in the game, and the Packers were ahead by 28 points. I have seen too many instances of easing up with a lead, and letting the lead get away. We need more "killer instinct," and in this case the Packers had it.
In looking back at the slow start on offense, there is no single thing that explains the ineffectiveness, unlike other games where Rodgers just seemed off, or where there were multiple instances of miscommunication between Rodgers and the receivers. Against the Vikings, the first drive was disrupted by pressure on third down, leading to a rushed and incomplete pass, the second drive was disrupted by two sacks, and the third drive was disrupted by a well-timed hit on third down, resulting in an incompletion.
The Packers' blowout of the Vikings was certainly an important win. It keeps the Packers tied with the Bears, it got them to the point where, "if the season ended now," the Packers would be in the playoffs, it increases the confidence that can only help as they face four tough games out of their last six, it evens the Favre game record at 2-2, and it effectively puts the Vikings out of contention this year. Fellow Packer Blogger Jersey Al call this game one of the top 5 most satisfying wins of the last decade.
In my review of the Cowboys game, I pointed out what a classy guy Charles Woodson is. It turns out his ex-teammate, Al Harris, is a classy guy, too. Would you believe that an athlete, in this era, and after being released by the Packers, would take out an ad in the paper to thank the Packer fans for their support? Believe it.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!