This divisional rematch didn’t have the quintessential Aaron Rodgers fourth-quarter comeback, or an overtime affair that resulted in one Viking losing their job.
But, it did clarify the NFC wild-card race and gave one team an edge as the playoff picture takes shape.
On Sunday, it was the Vikings turn to host their divisional rival and the Packers came to town with everything on the line. A win for Green Bay meant its postseason hopes would stay alive in a competitive contest to see who will get the conference’s two final playoff spots. But, the 24-17 loss effectively ended the Packers season.
The Vikings needed this win just as badly, and got it behind the duo of quarterback Kirk Cousins and wide receiver Adam Thielen — that and more from Minnesota’s win over Green Bay.
Where do the Packers go from here?
Barring a major turn of events, Green Bay will miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Remember what a big deal that was last season? It was the first time since 2008 the Packers failed to make the postseason. Now, after losing games to the Vikings, Seahawks and Redskins, questions surrounding what will happen with the organization loom.
Coach Mike McCarthy is in his 13th year with the Packers, and has led Green Bay to one Super Bowl title and nine playoff appearances in his first 11 seasons. But, he’ll most likely miss the postseason in back-to-back seasons for the first time in his career.
McCarthy, who is under contract through 2019 after signing a one-year extension late last season, entered the contest addressing his job security. He will have a chance to turn around the season when Green Bay heads back to Lambeau Field for its next two contests — against the struggling Cardinals and the Falcons — but will have to beat road woes in games against the Bears and Jets.
The Packers have yet to win away from home, and this latest outing doesn’t hold high hopes for future wins, especially after Rodgers was held to his lowest output of the season (198 yards).
Kirk Cousins and the Adam Thielen connection
Watching Rodgers find Davante Adams is fun, but on Sunday, Cousins and Thielen were better.
Adams has been Rodgers go-to receiver, and for good reason. He’s coming off a career-best 166 yards on 10 receptions in Week 11 and, for the first time in the Pro-Bowl player’s career, he surpassed the 1,000-yard milestone. Adams has 1,022 yards on the season after five receptions for 69 yards against Minnesota.
While Adams provided a highlight-reel worthy touchdown reception, Thielen gave us much, much more.
He ran down, through and around the Packers’ defense, and was even a key component in one of the season’s best touchdown celebrations.
The Vikings needed a big game from Thielen and the entire receiving corps, as they have struggled moving the ball on the ground — Minnesota ranks 31st in the run game, averaging 84.7 yards a game. So, they looked to the arm of Cousins and the impressive ability Thielen has to make a catch in the strongest of coverages.
— NFL (@NFL) November 26, 2018
He finished leading all receivers with 125 yards and one touchdown on eight receptions. Stefon Diggs also had eight catches for 77 yards and a score. Rodgers looked to five other receivers during the contest, including Dalvin Cook, who finished with a touchdown.
Dan Bailey won’t get the Daniel Carlson treatment
Green Bay is Minnesota’s kryptonite, at least when it comes to a certain part of the Vikings’ special teams.
No matter who is kicking, they seem to have trouble getting the ball through the uprights. In the team’s first meeting, former Vikings rookie kicker Daniel Carlson missed three field goals, including two in overtime. On Sunday, Dan Bailey missed two field goals, which sparked coach Mike Zimmer to make a unique adjustment.
He told the NBC crew he’s going for it on fourth down during the second half to avoid putting the game in the hands of Bailey, who had missed two field-goal attempts on Minnesota’s final two first-half drives.
But, that attitude quickly changed when the Vikings were facing fourth-and-16 just inside the red zone. Zimmer sent out the field goal team and Bailey put Minnesota ahead, 17-14, with a successful 37-yard attempt.
The Vikings held on to that lead with the help of a touchdown in the third quarter, and Bailey likely held on to his job with his lone made attempt.