Monday, October 28, 2013

The 53 - Packers beat Vikings in last visit to The Humpty

The Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings met for the 31st and last time at The Humpty because for at least the next two years the Vikings are going to play at TCF Bank Stadium, the home of the Minnesota Golden Gophers, while they build a new stadium on the footprint of The Humpty.  Despite the fact that the Vikings sputtered to start the season, I still think the NFL made the right call to make the last Packers/Vikings game at The Humpty a Sunday Night Football game.  Given the late kickoff, it allowed plenty of time for fans to get ready for the game.

After going out for a bunch of drinks to celebrate Halloween following the Gophers' victory over the Cornhuskers, Nick and I watched Man City play Chelsea at Brit's Pub & Eating Establishment, a great futbol pub in Minneapolis.  Brit's Pub has the most impressive lawn bowling set-up on their rooftop I've ever seen at a bar, unfortunately it was closed for the year.  Also unfortunate was City's 2-1 loss to Chelsea due to a defensive gaffe that lead to a Fernando Torres goal in the 90th minute.

Following the match, Nick and I met up with Sug at the Aloft Minneapolis right by The Humpty.  After grabbing some drinks around the stadium and dominating Sug on the official Sunday Night Football bag set, we met up with Gaber.  Finally the Nordys met us to give us equal Packers and Vikings fan representation at our tailgate.  Despite not having a grill we had a million options for grilling our brats because of all the tailgating going on around the stadium.  Thanks to the Old Fashions provided by Gaber, we made the best of our time in the parking lot before heading into the game.

A rowdy crowd of 64,134 peopled turned out for the last installment of Packers/Vikings at The Humpty.  The inactives for the Packers against the Vikings were: Jermichael Finley (TE, spinal injury), Brad Jones (OLB, hamstring), James Jones (WR, knee), Clay Matthews (OLB, thumb), James Nixon (CB, healthy scratch), Nick Perry (OLB, foot), and Ryan Taylor (TE, knee).  Vikings rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff for an NFL record typing 109 yards to put the Vikings up 7-0.  Unfortunately for the Vikings that was really the high point of the game for them as the Packers won their 15th game against an NFC North team in their last 16 tries.  Their only loss came at The Humpty last year to close the 2012 regular season, which meant the teams met in the playoffs the following week.  Cheesehead Chick, Dre, Gaber, Nick, Sug, Tessa, and I saw the Packers beat the Vikings handily in that playoff game last season.

Back to the game at hand.  Despite giving up 31 points, the final scoreline of 44-31 was very misleading.  The Packers scored every time they touched the ball besides their last possession when they ran out the clock.  Plus the Vikings scored 14 of their points when the game was out of reach after the Packers lead 41-17 midway through the fourth quarter.  With a victory, the Packers finish with a record of 15-16 at The Humpty.  Here are my updated rankings along with my thoughts on certain players following the last installment of Packers/Vikings at The Humpty:

 The 53
1. Aaron Rodgers (QB, LR 1)
2. Clay Matthews (OLB, LR 2)
3. Morgan Burnett (S, LR 3)
4. Jordy Nelson (WR, LR 4)
5. Josh Sitton (G, LR 6)
6. B.J. Raji (DL, LR 7)
7. Sam Shields (CB, LR 5)
8. T.J. Lang (G, LR 8)
9. James Jones (WR, LR 9)
10. Tramon Williams (CB, LR 10)
11. David Bakhtiari (T, LR 11)
12. Eddie Lacy (RB, LR 15)
13. Evan Dietrich-Smith (C, LR 12)
14. Jermichael Finley (TE, LR 13)
15. Brad Jones (MLB, LR 14)
16. Mike Daniels (DL, LR 22)
17. A.J. Hawk (MLB, LR 17)
18. Micah Hyde (CB, LR 21)
19. Casey Hayward (CB, LR 18)
20. Nick Perry (OLB, LR 16)
21. Don Barclay (T, LR 20)
22. Tim Masthay (P, LR 23)
23. Datone Jones (DL, LR 19)
24. Davon House (CB, LR 24)
25. Ryan Pickett (DL, LR 26)
26. Jamari Lattimore (LB, LR 27)
27. Johnny Jolly (DL, LR 25)
28. Jarrett Boykin (WR, LR 31)
29. Mason Crosby (K, LR 28)
30. Mike Neal (DL/OLB, LR 29)
31. Jarrett Bush (CB, LR 30)
32. James Starks (RB, LR 34)
33. M.D. Jennings (S, LR 32)
34. Brett Goode (LS, LR 33)
35. Andrew Quarless (TE, LR 38)
36. Chris Banjo (S, LR 35)
37. C.J. Wilson (DL, LR 36)
38. Jonathan Franklin (RB, LR 37)
39. Marshall Newhouse (T, LR 39)
40. Andy Mulamba (LB, LR 40)
41. John Kuhn (FB, LR 41)
42. Jerron McMillian (S, LR 42)
43. Ryan Taylor (TE, LR 43)
44. Sam Barrington (LB, LR 44)
45. Seneca Wallace (QB, LR 45)
46. Nate Palmer (LB, LR 46)
47. Brandon Bostick (TE, LR 47)
48. Myles White (WR, LR 50)
49. Lane Taylor (G, LR 51)
50. Chris Harper (WR, LR 48)
51. Jake Stoneburner (TE, LR 52)
52. Josh Boyd (DL, LR 49)
53. James Nixon (CB, LR 53) 
Physically Unable to Perform
1. Jerel Worthy (DE)
2. Derek Sherrod (T)
3. JC Tretter (T)
4. Sean Richardson (S)
IR, Designated for Return
1. Randall Cobb (WR)
Injured Reserve
1. Bryan Bulaga (T)
2. DuJuan Harris (RB)
3. Robert Francois (MLB)
4. Greg Van Roten (C/G)
5. Kevin Dorsey (WR)
6. Sederrik Cunningham (WR)
1. Jeremy Ross (WR, Lions)
2. Michael Hill (RB, FA)
#1) Aaron Rodgers (QB, LR 1): The Humpty has been a house of horrors for former Packer quarterback Brett Favre besides the two years he (gulp) actually played for the Vikings.  I know Favre broke quarterback Dan Marino's all-time touchdown record in The Humpty but the fake noise pumped in crowd noise always seemed to get to Favre.  The same cannot be said for Rodgers.  Although Rodgers is only 3-3 all-time in The Humpty, he usually puts up great stats.  Case and point, in Rodgers's last visit to The Humpty, he went 28 for 40 throwing for 365 yards and 4 touchdowns but the Packers still lost 37-34.  Besides putting up greats stats in The Humpty, another reason why Rodgers doesn't mind playing in there is that he gets to wear his favorite shoes, The Destroyers.  Former Packer wide receiver Greg Jennings had a number of disparaging comments about Rodgers (12 as he called him) and the Packers (apparently the organization brain washes people in Green Bay) after he signed a five-year, $45 million contract with the Vikings in the off-season.  Apparently Jennings was trying to make good with Rodgers because Rodgers said nothing as Jennings whispered a number of things into his ear as a part of one of the longest post-game embraces I've seen by opposing players in a long time.

#4) Jordy Nelson (WR, LW 4): With Cobb, Finley, and Jones missing time due to various injuries, Nelson has been the only constant pass catcher for the Packers this season.  Sunday against the Vikings was no different, Nelson had seven catches for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Packers got a nice performance from backup wide receivers Jarrett Boykin last week against the Browns but let's be honest, Nelson is really their only healthy stud pass catcher right now.

#6) B.J. Raji (DL, LR 7): Let me be the 10 millionth person to write a blurb about Raji being a good citizen for not complaining about his reduced playing time despite the fact that he is in a contract year.  In 2011 and 2012 the Packers kept Raji on the field for most downs, which wore him down each game and made him a lot less effective. Thankfully this season the Packers have more depth along the defensive line than they've had in the past so they can rotate their defensive lineman to keep everyone fresh.  The Packers defense limited running back Adrian Peterson to 13 carries for 60 yards and former Packer wide receiver Greg Jennings to 1 catch for 9 yards thanks in large part to their fresh defensive line wreaking havoc.

#16) Mike Daniels (DL, LR 22): The Packers used the first of their two compensatory fourth round draft picks in 2012 NFL Draft to select Daniels.  At the time I said Daniels was going to have to battle defensive lineman C.J. Wilson and Jarius Wynn for a roster spot.  Even if you combine Wynn's and Wilson's talent, they still would not provide the inside pass rush that Daniels gives the Packers in their sub-packages.  The two sacks by Daniels against the Vikings is evidence of how far he has come as a player in less than a year and a half to leapfrogged almost everyone in the defensive line rotation.

#18) Micah Hyde (CB, LR 21): The Packers finally got their first look in 2013 at cornerback Casey Hayward.  Going into the season you could make an argument that Hayward was the best cornerback on the roster or at least the cornerback with the highest upside on The 53.  Less than halfway into the season Hayward is nominally the 4th cornerback on the roster due to a lingering hamstring injury.  With Hayward out, Hyde has taken over the nickel cornerback role.  More importantly, Hyde has excelled as a punt returner.  Apparently the reason why Hyde fell to the 5th round of the 2013 NFL Draft was his lack of speed.  On Hyde's 93-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Vikings he looked like the fastest guy on the field so looks like the scouts were about Hyde's speed.  I know this is supposed to gauge "trade value" but given how much a nagging hamstring has limited Hayward so far this season, when you combine Hyde defensive and return capabilities, I honestly think Hyde has more value to the Packers in 2013 (and possibly beyond) than Hayward.

#32) James Starks RB, LR 34): The Packers put together their best performance on the ground of the season amassing 182 yards.  Running back Eddie Lacy gained 94 yards, quarterback Aaron Rodgers gained 31 yards, and last but certainly not least Starks gained 57 yards.  Sure Lacy was more impressive against the Vikings than Starks but I highlight Starks because if he can stay healthy the Packers will have a rich man's version of a two-headed running attack for the first time since Edgar Bennett and Dorsey Levens.

In what is now becoming an annual post-game tradition whenever we stay at an Aloft thanks to Sug, we hit the pool for a soak to kibitz about the win.  There really is nothing better than taking in an impressive Packer win followed by drinking beers and reminiscing about the game in the hot tub.  The only bummer of the post-game soak was my 6:50 am flight the following morning that necessitated a 5 am wake up call.  Luckily I was able to ride the train to the airport and make it through security just in time to make my flight.  Unfortunately because I cut it so close, I got a middle seat next to a guy with a Larry Craig-esque wide stance.  Thanks to Sug for locking down a hotel room and Gaber for bringing the drinks (Old Fashions and beers) and brats, which really made the day.  Despite a rough Monday, thanks to Minneapolis for a truly great sports weekend.  I hope we are all able to make it back next year for the first ever Packers/Vikings game at TCF Bank Stadium.

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