By Larry Fitzgerald
Rogers and Packers hammer Vikings 31-3
This just in: The (7-3) Green Bay Packers are pretty good and now share first place in the NFC North with Chicago. Sunday, the green and gold delivered a knockout performance to Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings 31-3 to sweep the 2010 series.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes in the rout. It was game number 100 in the series; the Packers lead 51-48-1 all-time.
Brett Favre played 16 years in Green Bay, leading the Packers to four NFC Championship games and two Super Bowls. If revenge fueled the motivation of Favre vs. Packers GM Ted Thompson, the score has been settled 2-2.
Normally when the Vikings and Packers meet, the games are tight back-and-forth contests. Not Sunday — the suddenly inept Vikings effort folded like a tent.
If the question were raised about Head Coach Brad Childress, the effort and support his team displayed the last two weeks indicate this talented Vikings team has lost its desire to fight. The Vikings needed to win the last two weeks against the Bears and Packers to stay in the NFC North race. The message is clear: This 2010 Vikings team with 10 Pro Bowl players is beginning to resemble the 2001 Vikings.
That was the last time the Vikings were in this position, following up an NFC Championship game loss with a season of similar expectation. That season was Dennis Green’s last season as head coach after 10 years and eight playoff appearances. The Vikings finished 5-11, and Mike Tice replaced Green as coach in the last game of the season, a 19-3 loss at Baltimore.
Again the Vikings came up short on the all-important turnover ratio when a costly Toby Gerhart fumble kind of woke up the sleepwalking Packers. The Vikings were leading 3-0 early second quarter; Gerhart’s fumble killed a potentially good Vikings scoring drive.
The Vikings were kind of playing poker, building chips. Cornerback Husain Abdullah blew a great opportunity when he dropped a sure second-quarter interception of a Rogers pass.
It also played into a continuing pattern that has developed with this year’s team. The second quarter has been a nightmare for the Vikings this season; many of their games have swung in the balance. The Vikings have lost their momentum in several close games by failing to execute and protect the football.
Sustaining momentum is a carryover effect — it spreads throughout the team. When you lose it, it’s like a bubble bursting. It’s not something you can touch — it’s a feeling. The Vikings think they are playing hard in their minds, but this group has been so distracted by off-the-field and inside-the-locker-room issues that they are beginning to fight among themselves and point fingers.
That is a sure sign of a team that has gotten out of control. Players are just going through the motions. When that happens, it falls on the head coach, and Childress has slowly but surely lost support within the locker room.
He built this team, but challenging your players to stay on point and on a championship course is difficult to do.
That is the expectation of this team, and that is his job as head coach based on this team’s talent and goal. When that goal is out of reach or slipping away, as this season is after continual failures, men will be men.
Success covers a multitude of blunders, and the Vikings have had more than their share of mistakes. They are a minus 13 on the turnover ratio list. That means that over the course of the season the Vikings are giving the ball away to their opponents.
Favre had another tough day. He was not sharp. He missed several receivers. The Vikings never developed a rhythm offensively. Favre threw his 17th interception of the season, tops in the NFL.
The Packers are the NFL’s number-two scoring defense. They rank number one with a plus-80 points off takeaways this season.
And Childress is now just 3-7 vs. the Packers, while the Packers are 51-48-1 lifetime against Minnesota over these 50 years. This means the Packers have taken the lead in this rivalry while Childress was head coach.
That is not good, because history is written by the winners, and the Vikings have lost that ability to win.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, and on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm; he also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.