MINNEAPOLIS – Brand new U.S. Bank Stadium came as loud as advertised in Sunday night’s regular-season opener at the Vikings’ new home.
For as many communication challenges as the 66,813 in attendance presented inside the structure, the Packers’ offense didn’t feel it had any bearing on its struggles during Sunday night’s 17-14 loss to Minnesota.
Ultimately, many veterans in the Packers’ locker room pointed towards execution and fundamentals to the offense’s downfall rather than noise level.
“We didn’t execute. That’s 100 percent on the offense,” said receiver Jordy Nelson, who led the Packers with five catches for 73 yards and a touchdown. “The defense I thought played a really good game, gave us multiple opportunities, kept us in the game. As an offense, we didn’t do our part.”
The Packers were in the game from beginning to end with the Vikings giving Green Bay’s offense several second chances with 13 penalties totaling 137 yards.
A 40-yard defensive pass interference call on Minnesota veteran cornerback Terrance Newman helped set up a five-play, 52-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter.
It helped stem the tide for the offense, which again started slowly in struggling to sustain drives early get the run game established. When it managed to drive, it seemed like a penalty, fumble or turnover impeded the Packers’ progress.
Green Bay had four fumbles against the Vikings, losing two. Still, the Packers were in position to retake the lead in the final two minutes of the game before Trae Waynes intercepted Rodgers.
“They stay true at what they do, which is bring your pressure, getting the ball out. They got the ball out on me on that first play,” said receiver Davante Adams, referring to his fumble on the Packers’ first offensive play that Randall Cobb recovered.
“A lot of things were (on) us, not so much them. Not taking any credit anyway from them, but that’s just the way it goes. We have to correct the things with us and we’ll be fine.”
The Packers dominated the rushing yards between the two teams (86-30), but consistency was a factor. Eddie Lacy rushed 12 times for 50 yards, while James Starks managed only three yards on seven attempts.
Green Bay had a chance to tie the game in the third quarter at 10, but opted to go for it on fourth down rather than attempt a 32-yard Mason Crosby field goal.
Starks was halted after a gain of 1 on fourth-and-2. The Vikings scored on the ensuing series to extend their lead to two scores.
“Today we didn’t really have anything going for us,” right guard T.J. Lang said. “The run game started slow. We had some nice ones at the beginning of the second half, but I think we really have to be better first and foremost on third down.
“We have to be better in the red zone. Had a chance third-and-1, fourth-and-1 and didn’t get it done. I think those are two areas once we get cleaned up and are able to sustain drives we’ll hopefully get more points on the board.”
There were positives for the offense with Rodgers hitting Nelson for a 39-yard gain at the start of the fourth quarter before running in for a 10-yard touchdown with 12:41 remaining.
The Packers know they have the offensive firepower to get things turned around.
“It’s really disappointing but we can’t dwell on it at all,” Lacy said. “We have a long road ahead of us. We still have everything ahead of us. It’s early in the season. We have to put it behind us and move forward.”
Block party: The Packers shot out to an early 7-0 lead thanks in part to second-year receiver Ty Montgomery blocking Minnesota punter Jeff Locke’s first-quarter punt.
Green Bay recovered the ball at its own 48-yard line, which set up a five-play, 52-yard scoring drive that ended in a 1-yard touchdown pass to Nelson.
It was Montgomery’s second blocked punt in three weeks after previously getting in front of a Dustin Colquitt attempt in the Packers’ preseason finale against Kansas City.
Stepping in: Rookie first-round pick Kenny Clark saw his workload spike after Letroy Guion exited in the first half with a knee injury and didn’t return.
With the Packers using more base packages this week, Clark was active in the second half. He finished with two tackles and a batted pass at the line of scrimmage.
The Vikings averaged 1.4 yards per carry on Sunday.
“I think we handled the run really well,” Clark said. “We stayed in our gaps and just played physical. We knew that was going to be a part of their game, so we just tried to stop that.”
Spofford: Chances get away in Packers' 17-14 loss to Vikings
Hodkiewicz: Packers' defense bitten by big plays
Spofford: Now's the time for Packers to get going