Minnesota Vikings Pass Defense Stands Tall Against Green Bay Packers

Coming out of the bye week, it appeared things wouldn’t get any easier for a Minnesota Vikings (2-5) team that ranked 29th against the pass as they traveled to take on the Green Bay Packers (5-2). But as the second half of the game played out, one of the weakest aspects of the 2020 Vikings flexed its muscles and helped Minnesota come out on top 28-22 to seal the upset. The Vikings pass defense came to play against Aaron Rodgers.

Minnesota Vikings Pass Defense Slows Down Aaron Rodgers

Pressuring Rodgers As A Unit

Anyone that listens to Mike Zimmer knows that he stresses “rushing lanes” for his defensive line. When he says this, he is talking about the importance of shrinking the pocket for a quarterback and taking away holes where the quarterback can scramble and extend plays. Despite Yannick Ngakoue racking up five sacks in the first six games, he wasn’t doing his job in containing quarterbacks. This ultimately led him to being traded during the bye week.

Despite the Vikings only getting one sack in the game, for the most part they contained Rodgers and didn’t allow him to make big plays outside of the pocket like he did when the teams met in Week 1. They made him step up in the pocket and even when they didn’t get home, the pressure certainly affected Rodgers to the point where he was missing open receivers that he usually never misses. Fittingly, the Vikings got their first sack on the final play of the game. Rodgers again wasn’t comfortable, scrambled, then was hit by defensive end D.J. Wonnum as he threw to force the game-losing fumble. An unselfish approach by the line paid off with their lone splash play on the game’s most important play.

Containing Adams

Fantasy owners may have appreciated Davante Adams getting them three touchdowns, but the Vikings held him to only 53 yards on seven receptions. This was a far cry from his 14-reception, 156-yard game (with two touchdowns) in Week 1. Adams seemed to heat up in the first half, but after a touchdown in the second half over rookie safety Josh Metellus, he was held in check the rest of the game.

The biggest highlight was a pass to Adams in the third quarter. Lined up in the slot, Adams ran up the seam. However, linebacker Eric Kendricks ran step for step with Adams and squeezed the route to where Adams couldn’t come up with the reception. It was the combination of scheme and technique that prevented the big play.

Handling Adversity

The most impressive part of this performance was that the Vikings suffered injuries throughout the game in the secondary. Rookie Cameron Dantzler left the game with a neck injury and backup Kris Boyd left with a knee injury later in the game as well. By the fourth quarter, the Vikings were employing a three-safety look with Metellus coming in when they’d normally be in nickel defense (three cornerbacks). While it wasn’t pretty when Adams caught his third score, the defense held up when circumstances could have spelled doom.

The Last Word

Minnesota finally showed life on their defense’s back end in 2020, and Zimmer has to appreciate that from his calling card. If the Vikings can get healthy and build on their performance, they have a chance to turn around their season and threaten the final playoff spot in the NFC.

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