Week 16 Recap: Overwhelmed and Shut Out

Despite going into the game with a litany of expected starters on the sideline and losing a handful more during the evening’s proceedings, the Packers gave the Vikings everything they had Saturday night.

Often, that would be a compliment, but in this instance it feels hollow. The Packers gave the Vikings everything they had, but the outcome seemed predetermined. Even when the Packers pushed deep into Vikings territory, Mike Zimmer’s bunch seemed anything but concerned. That lack of concern seemed fully justified, too, with Harrison Smith handily undercutting a Brett Hundley throw to end one scoring threat and Michael Clark making an underwhelming attempt at a back shoulder catch to end another.

Though Hundley could shoulder some of the blame for a lackluster offensive performance, he was also betrayed by his receivers, who dropped pass after pass after pass, putting the Packers in unfavorable down and distance situations or ending drives outright.

It all played into a result that seemed inevitable from the word go: a healthier, better equipped Vikings team doing what it had to do to secure a road win against an overmatched opponent.

4 and Out

1 - With Davante Adams in the concussion protocol and Jordy Nelson leaving with an unspecified injury, backup receivers had plenty of opportunities Saturday night. Getting some of his first extended reps at receiver so far this season, Jeff Janis managed his first catch of the year. It was also his first catch in almost exactly a year of real time: he last caught a ball on December 24, 2016 against the Minnesota Vikings. In addition, Michael Clark caught his first career pass, and in the process became the tallest receiver in Packers history to ever record a reception.

2 - Kenny Clark has blossomed into an effective pass rusher down the stretch this season, recording two sacks against the Vikings, bumping his total to 4.5 so far this season. Clark is just the third Packers player since 1950 to total two sacks in a game at age 22 or younger, along with Tim Harris and Vonnie Holliday.

3 - Aaron Rodgers’ absence certainly has something to do with it, but Jordy Nelson has been uniquely unproductive this season. Saturday’s game was the fifth time this season he’s been targeted with at least five passes but produced 35 yards or fewer. This was the second time this season Nelson has had exactly five targets and produced eleven yards.

4 - There’s no statistical corollary to go along with this, but the playing surface at Lambeau Field looked like it left much to be desired. Some deterioration is to be expected in the colder months, but multiple players on both teams seemed to have trouble keeping their feet, including virtually every one of the Packers’ wide receivers.