NFL News & Analysis

GB-MIN grades: Bradford-Diggs connection lifts Vikings past Packers

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Sam Bradford #8 of the Minnesota Vikings and quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers shake hands after the game on September 18, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Minnesota Vikings 17, Green Bay Packers 14

Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from Minnesota’s 17-14 win over Green Bay in the first home game at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Green Bay Packers

Quarterback grade: Aaron Rodgers, 33.0

Aaron Rodgers earns lowest game grade of career

Not much can describe Aaron Rodgers’ performance other than it being one of—if not the—worst outing of his career. At halftime, Rodgers had just 13 of his 59 passing yards come through the air. He finished the game having completed just 4-of-14 passes targeted 10+ yards downfield. On passes where the ball was out by 2.5 seconds, he completed 18-of-27 passes with an NFL QB rating of 93.8. On dropbacks that lasted more than 2.5 seconds, he completed just two-of-nine attempts on 17 dropbacks, and had a passer rating of 12.0. Most uncharacteristic of Rodgers, though, were his turnover-worthy plays. He fumbled three times, two of which the offense was lucky to recover, threw a slant pass straight to Terence Newman in the red zone (only to have the interception dropped), and then tossed the pick to Trae Waynes in the final two minutes.

Aaron Rodgers passing under pressure versus Vikings

Aaron Rodgers passing under pressure

Top offensive grades

RG T.J. Lang, 81.3

LT David Bakhtiari, 78.1

RT Bryan Bulaga, 77.1

WR Jordy Nelson, 73.6

RB Eddie Lacy, 69.2

Green Bay offensive line does its part in pass protection

Even though Rodgers was forced to leave the pocket quite a bit, many times he was forced to hold the ball as receivers struggled to get open, instead of it being on the offensive line. In all, both tackles and Lang played pretty well, and the starting unit allowed just six pressures on 51 pass plays. LT David Bakhtiari entered the game having gone 463 snaps in pass protection without allowing a sack, the longest current streak for a left tackle, but had that snapped versus the Vikings, with his only pressure allowed for the night. LG Lane Taylor allowed two hurries, and had a below-average grade as a run blocker. The Packers couldn’t get much going in the run game outside of a couple good attempts, and 30 of Eddie Lacy’s 50 rushing yards came after contact.

Top defensive grades

OLB Julius Peppers, 86.8

DE Mike Daniels, 85.0

LB Jake Ryan, 84.6

OLB Nick Perry, 80.6

CB Quinten Rollins, 80.5

Front-seven solid in loss; secondary fails to hold up its end

The front-seven for the Packers held up their end of the bargain swimmingly Sunday night, while the secondary slipped up again and again. Green Bay pressured Sam Bradford on a ridiculous 48.6 percent of his dropbacks, despite a 2.41 second average time to attempt. On those plays, though, the Vikings' quarterback still carved up the Packers corners, going 9-for-13 for 89 yards and two touchdowns. CB Damarious Randall—last week's highest-graded CB—obviously took the brunt of it, allowing seven-of-eight targets for 161 yards and a touchdown, earning the lowest grade of any cornerback this week (excluding Monday Night Football).

Minnesota Vikings

Quarterback grade: Sam Bradford, 87.5

New arrival Sam Bradford better than advertised

Most people at home likely expected Sam Bradford to have some rust in his first start after only two weeks of practice in Minnesota. Those people, including myself, were wrong. On 31 targeted passes, Bradford recorded an adjusted completion percentage of 81.5, the fourth-highest of any quarterback so far this week. His touchdown to Stefon Diggs—with Mike Daniels bearing down in his face—was one of the best throws I saw all weekend. Going toe-to-toe with a player many consider to be the best quarterback in the NFL, Bradford had 12 fewer plays take downgrades than the Packers' quarterback.

Sam Bradford passing under pressure versus Packers

Sam Bradford under pressure

Top offensive grades

WR Stefon Diggs, 90.1

LG Alex Boone, 78.5

TE Kyle Rudolph, 73.8

C Joe Berger, 61.8

RB Adrian Peterson, 60.5

Stefon Diggs fuels otherwise stagnant offense

There’s only one true performance of note on the Vikings' offense outside of Bradford, and that's Stefon Diggs. The second-year receiver caught all nine of his targets for a ridiculous 182 yards and a touchdown. When the game was on the line, and everyone in the building knew the Vikings were going back to Diggs, he forced a pass interference penalty to essentially ice the game. The second-year receiver truly carried the offense, as Minnesota only averaged 2.1 yards per play on snaps he didn’t touch the ball.

Top defensive grades

LB Anthony Barr, 84.5

CB Captain Munnerlyn, 84.4

DT Linval Joseph, 82.6

LB Eric Kendricks, 80.8

S Harrison Smith, 80.7

CB Trae Waynes’ redemption seals the victory

Overall, it was a solid outing by the Vikings' defense, with seven players grading above 80.0. LB Eric Kendricks had a pass defense and a couple quick tackles on short passes to earn one of the highest coverage grades on the Minnesota defense, but he did miss a tackle in the run game. DT Linval Joseph continues to be an excellent run stopper, picking up three run stops and disrupting the point of attack on a couple other plays. The one exception to the defense playing well was CB Trae Waynes, who was competing with Packers CB Damarious Randall for the worst coverage outing of the week—that is, before his interception at the end of the game. Waynes gave up seven passes for 98 yards and a touchdown, and also was penalized three times in coverage. He finished on a high note, with the pick to seal the win.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Vikings WR Stefon Diggs

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