Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers, and the Minnesota Vikings wish that weren't the case. In a 43-36 dismantling by the Green Bay Packers at US Bank Stadium on Sunday, the Vikings truly did give their NFC North rival a run for their money for much of the first half. But when Rodgers turned on his clutch gene to close out the second quarter, it hinted at things being too little, too late for a struggling Kirk Cousins -- asking him to suddenly shoot it out with Rodgers while lacking the firepower to do so.
What was an 8-7 contest at one point rapidly devolved into a blowout, even though the final score implies otherwise, thanks to a scrappy Vikings team who must lick their wounds and try to reboot for Week 2. The Packers are heading back to Green Bay wearing nothing but smiles, knowing they're starting the 2020 NFL season with a 1-0 record, making it a twofer when factoring it who they defeated to take the victory.
It's the most points ever given up by a Mike Zimmer team, leaving the head coach much to chew on the next several days.
Why the Packers won
Aaron Rodgers + Davante Adams = Demolition
There's plenty of ways to explain why the Packers walked away with a win in Minnesota, but it truly came down to the dominance of this combo. Rodgers was visibly frustrated over much of the first half, and credit the Vikings defense for being a key reason. They bent often but didn't break initially, forcing Rodgers into grabbing only six points on his first three red zone visits. The wheels came off from there though, with Rodgers throwing for two touchdowns in 25 seconds to close out the second half. He never looked back from there, as he helped lift Adams to a monster game -- reeling in 14 catches for 156 yards with two touchdowns.
By the way, Rodgers was also not sacked all game, despite losing two offensive lineman to injury during the game.
Why the Vikings lost
See above, but also below.
Half of the reason for this loss is on the shoulders of a defensive unit who started out on fire in defending the red zone, but quickly got turned inside-out with less than a minute remaining in the second quarter. That put more pressure on Kirk Cousins to perform after halftime, but that was asking a lot, considering he wasn't doing well before it. Cousins went 3 of 5 for only 54 yards with no touchdowns and an interception in the first two quarters of play, and it took a 37-yard touchdown pass to Thielen to make his stat line presentable. All told, the lack of clock control by the Vikings offense ultimately gassed the defense, and the rest was cake for Rodgers.
It was quite the defensive back-and-forth before Rodgers broke the huddle on 2nd-and-9 with only 48 seconds remaining in the first half, and up by just one point. That's when he morphed into something alien as the clutch gene took full hold of his body, because this throw is ... wow.
It's the play that sent the Packers rocket into launch mode, and what happened next put it into orbit.
Play of the Game
It took all of 25 seconds for the Vikings to see Cousins throw an interception and give Rodgers another chance at doing what he does best, and so he did, by closing out the half with yet another touchdown blast -- this time to Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The Vikings never recovered from the onslaught.
All hail WR1
"DavantBae Adams is the best WR in the NFL." - NFL fantasy football insider Nate Hamilton
The Packers now face another all-important divisional match in Week 2 when they host the Detroit Lions, while the Vikings head to Lucas Oil Stadium to try and right the ship against the Indianapolis Colts.
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