The Minnesota Vikings had a somewhat disappointing end to a surprising 2012 NFL season, as the lack of pass offense on their side and too much pass offense from the Green Bay Packers resulted in a 24-10 victory for the Packers at Lambeau Field.
First, I'll get it out of the way. . .the Packers were the better team tonight. Offense, defense, special teams. . .every aspect of the football game. And, as they have all season, the Vikings lost the game when they lost the turnover battle. . .two turnovers for Minnesota and zero for Green Bay pushes the Vikings 2012 record to 0-7 when they go into the negative in the takeaway/giveaway ratio.
The Vikings deactivated starting quarterback Christian Ponder before game time, meaning Joe Webb got the nod at the starting quarterback spot. Webb became the first quarterback in NFL history to start a playoff game after not throwing a pass in the regular season. . .and it showed. Yes, the final numbers show that Webb threw for 180 yards and a touchdown. . .he also managed to not complete forty percent of his passes (going 11-for-30 on the evening), threw a pretty bad interception when it appeared the Vikings might be driving, and generally just looked completely lost when he was asked to drop back and throw the football.
On Twitter this evening, I saw a lot of fans decry Christian Ponder's lack of "toughness" and what have you for not being out there for this game. I think I can pretty reasonably say that Christian Ponder did not deactivate himself this evening. Leslie Frazier and/or Bill Musgrave had Ponder out there throwing passes before the game, evaluated what they saw, and decided that they were better off with Joe Webb as the starter and McLeod Bethel-Thompson backing him up. That decision is ultimately up to the head coach. . .not the player. I find it hard to believe that Ponder would have tapped out of this game of his own volition.
(Oh, and Tom Pelissero just mentioned on Twitter that Ponder didn't have full range of motion in his throwing arm. But yeah, maybe the Vikings should have run him out there anyway. Derp.)
What became apparent tonight, to me, is that the Minnesota Vikings absolutely have to go into 2013 with a better option at the backup quarterback spot than Joe Webb. Don't get me wrong. . .Joe Webb is a fine athlete and I'm sure he's a really nice guy and loves his mother and all that. But he's a change-up in the NFL, at best. . .he's not a starter. He has a big arm. . .but, as we saw on two different occasions when he overshot Jerome Simpson by about ten yards, having a big arm doesn't do one bit of good if you can't put the ball in the same ZIP code as the receiver.
The Vikings' defense did what they could this evening. . .the defensive line got three more sacks of Aaron Rodges (one each for Jared Allen, Everson Griffen, and Christian Ballard), and safety Harrison Smith had a very good game for a secondary that spent a lot of time getting burned in big situations. But with the offense being unable to get anything going for the majority of the game, their best simply wasn't enough when it was all said and done.
So, the Vikings and their fans turn their attention to the 2013 NFL Draft, where they will select somewhere between 22nd and 24th, depending on the results of tomorrow's games. (With their loss today, the Cincinnati Bengals locked up the 21st overall pick.) Hopefully the Vikings can have the same sort of success with the 2013 Draft that they had with a 2012 draft that produced Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith, Josh Robinson (who also showed fairly well today), and Blair Walsh.
But there will be plenty of time for draft talk in the coming days, weeks, and months. For tonight, the Minnesota Vikings' season is over. . .a season nobody could have expected going into 2012.
Thanks for being a part of this season here at The Daily Norseman every step of the way, ladies and gentlemen. Going forward, we'll continue to bring you the level of Minnesota Vikings coverage that you've come to expect from us over the time we've been here. DN is nothing without each and every one of you folks.
Have a pleasant rest of your evening, ladies and gentlemen, and remember. . .the future in Minnesota is significantly brighter today than it was at this time a year ago.