GREEN BAY – When it came to down and distance on Sunday, the Packers were unable to stay in sync with the sticks on either side of the ball and it cost them against the Minnesota Vikings.
Too few offensive third-down conversions, too many defensive third-down concessions and a plethora of penalties helped send Green Bay to a 24-10 loss to the Vikings in front of 78,113 at Lambeau Field.
Despite the Packers' defense allowing just 62 rushing yards on 31 carries (2.0 yards per carry), Minnesota still managed to convert on 10 third downs and a critical fourth down at the onset of the third quarter on an eventual touchdown-producing drive.
Offensively, the Packers didn't match the efficiency in finishing just 5-of-14 on third downs and 1-of-4 on fourth-down tries, most of which came in the fourth quarter.
As a team, Green Bay had 11 penalties accepted for 99 yards against the Vikings, four of which led to Minnesota first downs.
"We hurt ourselves a whole lot with all these penalties racking up," linebacker Quay Walker said. "Even when we get them in third-and-long, not getting off the field, just things like that we can help ourselves by doing. It's more so us than anybody else."
Offensively, the Packers had a penalty for an illegal man downfield wipe out a Romeo Doubs circus catch near the sideline on third-and-1 and ended up going three-and-out.
All told, the Packers went three-and-out on their first four possessions before putting together a 14-play, 73-yard drive before halftime that led to an Anders Carlson 30-yard field goal.
Green Bay matched that with another 14-play drive in the third quarter, stamped by a 1-yard Romeo Doubs touchdown on fourth-and-goal, but it wasn't enough to keep pace.
"I definitely do feel there were a lot of missed opportunities," Jones said. "I feel we got some of the looks that we wanted against their defense whether it be us shooting ourselves in the foot, which it was most of the time. I had a dropped ball. We gotta be better all around, especially when we get those looks that we want."
Defensively, it was an uneven day for Green Bay. While the Alexander Mattison (16 carries for 31 yards) and Cam Akers (nine carries for 19 yards) didn't gain much on the ground, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins took it from there.
Cousins completed 23 of 31 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns (122.2 passer rating) before leaving in the fourth quarter with what's been reported as a season-ending Achilles injury. He converted 14 first downs through the air, eight of which came on third down.
For the afternoon, Cousins was 12-of-13 for 139 yards with a touchdown on third downs and 8-of-8 on third-and-8-plus.
"It was a little bit of everything, too many penalties," defensive lineman Kenny Clark said. "I know especially on defense we gave up too many third downs. Sometimes we gave Kirk too much time on throws. We gotta figure that out and win our one-on-ones. We gotta find ways to win."
Check out photos from the Week 8 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023.
The Packers generated one takeaway against the Vikings with Preston Smith's strip sack of backup quarterback Jalen Hall after Cousins left the game. Devonte Wyatt recovered the ball at the Minnesota 15, but the Packers failed to convert it into points.
The Packers came close to a takeaway in the first quarter when Walker nearly picked off Cousins on his first pass attempt but was unable to come down with it. Cornerback Rasul Douglas said Walker apologized to the team after the game for not coming up with the ball, but Douglas said that wasn't necessary.
Walker finished with 10 tackles (seven solo) and the pass deflection.
"Quay talked in front of the whole team, basically saying how he felt like it was his fault. That … wasn't his fault, though," Douglas said. "If we had 11 of him, we'd probably be 7-0 right now. I told him, 'Bro, it's not you. It's all of us, bro. We're all out there on the grass with you.' We've got to do a better job."
The Packers know there's plenty to clean up in all three phases after dropping their fourth straight game Sunday. Although third downs and penalties played a role, it also didn't help that Green Bay was playing from behind once again.
"I think we gotta stop putting ourselves in the situation where we're down and we have to fight so hard to get back," said Smith, who finished with five tackles, four quarterback hits and two sacks. "We just need to play with that mentality that we're down in the beginning and come out with that sense of urgency, and that way we fight to stay on top instead of fight to come back."