The Vikings defense took a pounding early in this game. They came out flat and the Packers came out hot. The result was an early 21-0 hole by the beginning of the second quarter. Adjustments were made and the Vikings defense didn’t allow a single point the remainder of the game. It was a surprising turnaround for a defense that was getting pushed around at will for the Packers first three drives.
The change was led by the Vikings best defensive player Harrison Smith. He made some big plays, whether it was breaking up passes, well-timed tackles, or forcing fumbles. He proved again why he’s one of the best safeties in the NFL.
The Vikings pass rush also improved. They couldn’t get any pressure on Rodgers early in the game and he was getting time to survey the field and find Davante Adams on some big gains. This changed in the second quarter and on. Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen were all over Rodgers causing him to run for his life.
Big Linval Joseph was also a force in the middle and was able to collapse some pockets and get some interior pressure on Rodgers. Whether it was just guys playing more motivated or some crazy schemes Zimmer was calling, the defensive improvement from the first quarter for the remainder of the game was truly impressive.
The Minnesota Vikings just need to start playing this well defensively for all four quarters next time they face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.