Take a future Hall of Fame quarterback, and put him against a secondary with two rookie cornerbacks. Take an injured star defensive end and a defensive tackle opting out of the season away from that same defense, and you have a recipe for disaster. That’s exactly what the Minnesota Vikings recipe was in their season opener against the Green Bay Packers, and it left a 43-34 bad-tasting loss in their collective mouths.
Aaron Rodgers is back.
Aaron Rodgers spent the day having a picnic in the pocket. His picnic feast? The Vikings defense.
He threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns, including two to his No. 1 wide receiver, Davante Adams. Adams had 14 catches for 156 yards on the day, with Marquez Valdes-Scantling adding 96 yards and a touchdown of his own. The turning point of the game came after a Vikings goal line stand that temporarily preserved an early 7-3 lead.
On 2nd-and-seven, Vikings offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, called a play-action pass from his own four-yard line. With a suspect offensive line, a deep drop play action seemed peculiar at the very least. Dalvin Cook and his freshly-inked, five-year contract should have been used to pound the ball out of the shadow of the goal line. A corner blitz by Jaire Alexander resulted in a safety, and a 43-yard Mason Crosby field goal that gave the Packers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Alexander would have an interception later in the half that led to a 45-yard touchdown strike from Rodgers to Valdes-Scantling near the end of the first half.
The lead would balloon to 29-10 with just over four minutes left in the third quarter, before the Vikings would start to click using an up-tempo offense. But, for every touchdown and two-point conversion Minnesota would score, the Packers would have an answer.
Kirk Cousins is not back.
Kirk Cousins finished the day with some window-dressing stats, completing 19-of-25 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns. Cook and Alexander Mattison would each rush for 50 yards in the game, with Cook scoring twice. Adam Thielen led the receiving corps with six catches for 110 yards and two touchdown passes.
The Vikings travel to Indianapolis for Week 2 to play Phillip Rivers and the Colts. The Packers head home for another divisional contest, this time against the Detroit Lions.