UFR Packers

For the first time this season, a loss stung the Green Bay Packers.

Green Bay was embarrassed in Week 1 against New Orleans, but that was quickly forgotten with a seven-game winning streak. The Packers lost 13-7 to Kansas City, but it was expected with quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the reserve/COVID-19 list and unable to play.

Sunday’s 34-31 loss to the Minnesota Vikings felt differently.

It hurt.

The Packers defense, which hadn’t allowed a single point in six quarters, coughed up two touchdowns and a field goal to quarterback Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense on its first three possessions. It was the first time Green Bay surrendered 300+ passing yards since Week 15 of the 2019 season, ending a streak of 33 contests (including playoffs).

Green Bay was sluggish to start on offense. Two punts and a missed Mason Crosby field-goal attempt allowed the Vikings to build a 16-3 lead in the first half. The Packers would go on to find the end zone on their final four drives and even took a 24-23 lead in the fourth quarter, but it just wasn’t enough.

It was just the second divisional loss for Matt LaFleur since he took over as head coach in 2019. The Packers (8-3) also lost possession of the NFC’s top seed, which now belongs to the Arizona Cardinals (9-2).

Here’s what we learned from Sunday’s game:

PLAYER OF THE GAME

What more can be said about Davante Adams? He made former All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson look like a shell of himself, catching seven passes for 115 yards and two scores. Four of those catches, including both touchdowns, were against off-man coverage, or when the defender is sitting five to seven yards off the line of scrimmage. You can’t do that against one of the NFL’s best receivers.

Adams’ best play came with 12:18 remaining in the fourth. Minnesota blitzed on third-and-6. Before the pressure got to him, Rodgers fired a pass in the middle of the field to Adams seven yards past the sticks. He caught it, and more impressively, hung on after a big hit from Vikings safety Xavier Woods. The drive continued, and the Packers eventually took a brief 24-23 lead.

DON'T FORGET ABOUT ME

It’s the first week the Packers defense hasn’t received a shoutout in quite some time. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown, a pair of 2018 late-round picks, both contributed in big ways.

Valdes-Scantling saw 10 targets -- his third career game with double-digit targets – and tallied four receptions for 123 yards and a score. The highlight, of course, was his 75-yard touchdown. After the Vikings took a seven-point lead with a drive that lasted 5:32, all Green Bay needed was nine seconds. Rodgers found MVS in stride near midfield and the former South Florida star easily outraced Woods to the goal line. It was the second-longest touchdown of his career.

St. Brown had his best game since his rookie season. In the second quarter, the shifty receiver moved the ball 17 yards on a short pass from Rodgers. He made Woods look bad and miss a tackle on a rushing attempt inside the red zone in the third. On the drive in which Green Bay took a 24-23 advantage, St. Brown caught a pass in the flat and sprinted 26 yards to move into Vikings territory. Entering Sunday, he had played 123 offensive snaps but only had three catches for 12 yards to show for it. He exited U.S. Bank Stadium with 54 yards on an important three touches.

THAT MOMENT

Safety Darnell Savage Jr. finished the game with seven tackles and two passes defensed. He should’ve had two picks. In the second quarter, Cousins tried to zing a pass to Justin Jefferson near the goal line but Savage stepped in front of it and intercepted the pass. However, a roughing the passer penalty docked the INT, which would’ve been his second of the season.

On the Vikings’ final drive, Cousins tossed an errant pass again aimed for Jefferson but Savage was there once again. It initially looked like the safety finished the catch but a replay review reversed the call and discovered the ball popped loose once he hit the ground. The Packers would’ve had the ball at the Minnesota 37 with two minutes to play.

THIS NUMBER

When should we disregard loyalty and be actually concerned about the Packers’ kicking woes? Mason Crosby missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter. (Note: the Packers lost by three points.) It was his third straight game with a shanked FGA. He’s now made just 65.2% of his FGA, reminiscent of his horrendous 2012 campaign in which he split the uprights on just 63.6% of FGA and his job was up for grabs. Crosby has missed four of eight attempts from 30-39 yards out. Over the last eight seasons, he had come up empty on just six kicks from that range in 74 attempts (91.9%).

THEY SAID IT

“It’s an emotional roller coaster, the entire game. Just in terms of being down 13 points, having the resiliency to fight back to take the lead and have opportunities. Certainly you would love to survive the ground right there and unfortunately he didn't. That's just the way it worked. And then they were able to march the ball down and hit the game-winning field goal.” – head coach Matt LaFleur

“I feel good about our defense. I feel like they were due for a big stop. We had a chance there. Sav (Darnell Savage) almost was able to hold onto that pick, get us the ball back at the 40. But Kirk's had a really nice season. He played really well today. And we just started a little bit too slow. Didn't score enough points.” – quarterback Aaron Rodgers

“We got to play better. We weren't ourselves today. We didn't play up to our standards. There's a lot of things we can fix, a lot of things we’re going to learn from watching this film, and going forward to play the Rams we know we got to fix a lot of things and we know we got to fix them as fast as possible to get the ball back rolling and get back to ourselves.” – linebacker Preston Smith

WHO'S NEXT

One more game before the bye week. It doesn’t get much easier for Green Bay (8-3), which will play host to the Los Angeles Rams (7-3) at 3:25 p.m. Sunday. In his first season with Los Angeles, quarterback Matthew Stafford leads the NFC with 3,014 passing yards and is on pace to set a career high in passer rating (106.1). However, the Rams have lost two straight and will be looking to rebound at Lambeau Field after resting in Week 11. Green Bay is 6-1 against the Rams since the 2007 season.