Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Don’t get me wrong. Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre has played well here in the first half of his return to Lambeau Field. But if I were to make a list of why the Vikings hold a 17-3 lead at halftime, I would put at least two factors ahead of him. Here are my observations:
We discussed the Vikings’ special teams over the weekend, and the reality is both of their touchdown drives were set up by excellent returns. Percy Harvin set them up at the 14-yard line after a 77-yard kickoff return, and Jaymar Johnson’s 20-yard punt return gave them field position at their own 49-yard line on the second scoring drive.
There has been a combination of strong pass rush from the Vikings and another bout of holding the ball too long for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Vikings had a total of four sacks in the first half, and I blame two on Rodgers. Both were plays when defensive end Ray Edwards chased him down from the far side of the field. On the other two, Vikings defensive end Jared Allen blew past Packers left tackle T.J. Lang, and nose tackle Pat Williams threw aside Packers center Scott Wells.
The bottom line is the Packers finished the half with 46 yards, five punts and three first downs. Frankly, the Packers are fortunate to trail only by two touchdowns. Minnesota’s botched shotgun snap gave the Packers possession at their 21-yard line, leading to their only score – a 37-yard field goal by Mason Crosby. The Vikings also had an unsuccessful fourth-down attempt deep in Packers territory during the second quarter.
Adrian Peterson’s 33-yard run in the second quarter was a pretty good demonstration of the difference between these teams, at least today. Packers safety Nick Collins, one of two Packers players who missed tackles on the play, looked like he wanted no part of Peterson in the open field.
As for Favre, he’s having the kind of productive and mistake-free game that has characterized his performances this season. He’s completed 11 of 15 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. From my vantage point, I’ve seen no emotional displays to suggest his return to Lambeau Field has had any effect on him.