Za’Darius Smith vs. the Packers (Week 1 in 2022)
It may be a bit premature to consider a game this season as one of the best games, even revenge games, in Vikings history, but Za’Darius Smith‘s performance against the Green Bay Packers is worth noting already.
Smith was released by Green Bay during the offseason, and instead of electing to return to the Baltimore Ravens, who drafted him, he decided to sign with the Vikings. Simply put, he wanted to get back at the Packers, and he wasn’t afraid to let anyone know. The first game where the linebacker donned the purple and gold was against his old team, and it was also the first under new head coach Kevin O’Connell.
Smith finished the game with two tackles, two hurries, and a sack on former teammate Aaron Rodgers as the Vikings cruised to a 23-7 victory. Bringing in a new era with a win is always special, but when you can do it against a division rival with their former star pass rusher makes that much sweeter.
Add in the fall from grace Green Bay has had, contrasted to Minnesota’s hot start, and it’s hard not to look back and consider the game one of the best in recent Vikings history. While time will tell how the season will end for both franchises, it seems Minnesota will have a strong chance of winning the division for the first time since 2017. If and/or when they do, fans will know where it all started.
It’s early in Smith’s tenure with Minnesota, but given the Packers and Vikings rivalry, any last laugh is a good one. An opening day win against a division rival, with a new head coach and their former player having a day, is a game that will be worth noting for moments in franchise history for years to come.