MINNEAPOLIS—Another game, another big play for Micah Hyde.
Only this time, the second-year Packers defensive back made a game-altering play when things weren’t actually going all that well for him.
In the second quarter of the Packers’ 24-21 victory over the Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday, Hyde needed to bounce back and did so in a big way.
He was flagged for defensive holding on a fourth-down pass, wiping out an interception by teammate Morgan Burnett, and five plays later the Vikings scored their first touchdown, tying the game at 7.
Then on Minnesota’s next series, Hyde had a golden opportunity to tackle running back Joe Banyard short of the sticks on a third-and-6 dumpoff pass deep in Vikings territory, but Banyard was able to pick up the first down.
“I actually tried playing the ball,” Hyde said. “He made a good catch, a one-handed catch. I tried to adjust but by then I had no power in my legs. After that, I tried to put it behind me.
“You have to move on to the next play.”
Hyde did that, because on the very next play, Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater tried to loft a ball down the left sideline for former Packers receiver Greg Jennings. Among several Packers in coverage, Hyde was there to leap and haul it in for his second interception in the last three games.
“I tried to help the guys behind me and I was running back thinking there’s no way he’s going to throw this ball, but he did,” Hyde said. “It felt like the ball was up there for five seconds. I remember running and kind of backpedaling, and the ball still didn’t come down yet. I just told myself, ‘Don’t drop this ball.’”
Hyde said his receiver skills are limited to one all-star game appearance as a receiver in high school, but they were enough. The lone turnover of the game gave the Packers the ball near midfield, and the offense capitalized by driving 53 yards to take a 14-7 lead. Green Bay led the rest of the game.
The Packers thought they should have intercepted Bridgewater more, though. Early on, the rookie QB threw several high passes that were deflected but the Packers couldn’t corral them.
On one play, linebacker Clay Matthews batted down a pass in Bridgewater’s face just as cornerback Tramon Williams was jumping in front of receiver Charles Johnson on an inside move. It was one of many missed opportunities.
“I’m outta there, man,” Williams said, referencing a potential pick-six if Matthews doesn’t swat the pass away. “I’m still looking at it right now in my head.
“There were a lot of balls out there. We should have (had more turnovers), but the ball just kind of fell the wrong direction. He was high a lot, got away with some things out there today.”
Still, the Packers won the turnover battle, 1-0, as the offense caught a break when a James Starks fumble was recovered and Vikings safety Harrison Smith narrowly missed an interception on a downfield pass intended for tight end Andrew Quarless.
“That’s the biggest stat that we care about, turnovers and taking the ball away, and not turning it over,” linebacker Julius Peppers said. “If we can continue to do that and have that type of ball security, we’ll be pretty good.”
On the board: It took 11 games, but rookie tight end Richard Rodgers finally got his first NFL touchdown. It came on first-and-goal from the 1-yard line, as Rodgers the QB ran a play-action rollout to his right while Rodgers the tight end slipped free into the back left corner of the end zone.
Standing all alone, all he had to do was catch the ball when his QB turned and launched the pas all the way back across the field.
“I was just thinking about catching it,” he said. “That’s all I could think. It was in the air for a long time.”
Not easy: The Packers all expected a tough battle from the Vikings, particularly after beating them soundly, 42-10, back in early October when Bridgewater was out with an injury and third-string QB Christian Ponder was forced to start.
The Packers didn’t even get halfway to the 50-point barrier they had surpassed in two blowout wins the two previous weeks, but the game was a reminder that cruising to victory is supposed to be the exception, not the norm, in the NFL.
“It’s a nail-biter, but if anybody was getting a little too high on themselves, it brings them back down to reality that any given Sunday, Monday or Thursday, you can be beat,” defensive lineman Mike Daniels said.
Penalty problems: One of the least-penalized teams in the league, the Packers had trouble with the yellow flags on Sunday.
The Packers were penalized eight times for a total of 75 yards, their second-highest penalty-yardage total of the season.
Some of the infractions, including Hyde’s defensive holding on fourth down, were costly and Head Coach Mike McCarthy referred to them as “untimely.” A holding call on receiver Jordy Nelson shortened a long run by Eddie Lacy to a net of just six yards, and an illegal block in the back by receiver Davante Adams reduced a long Lacy screen pass to just three yards.
Then on special teams, rookie Demetri Goodson – active as a punt gunner due to veteran Jarrett Bush missing the game with an injury – interfered with the Vikings’ punt returner and gave Minnesota a free 15 yards to start a drive. The Vikings ended up needing only to gain 17 yards on that possession to kick a field goal.
Minnesota had its penalty issues, too, with seven flags for 77 yards. Left tackle Matt Kalil had a rough day, with two holding penalties and a facemask call. Bridgewater was also called for intentional grounding, costing 16 yards, and defensive lineman Linval Joseph was flagged for roughing the passer on a third-quarter Green Bay drive that ended with a long field goal. COMPLETE GAME COVERAGE