NFC North Game Balls and Goats: Week 15

By
Updated: December 18, 2012

Running back Adrian Peterson, who has singlehandedly kept the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card Race, receives the Water Cooler Sports NFC North Offensive Game Ball for Week 15.

Jury’s in

The auditorium is not as packed this week as it has been most of the season, perhaps because there isn’t as much drama in the NFC North Game Balls and Goats nominations as we might hope. Although there were some exciting games in Week 15, the choices for awards and dishonor are pretty clear. That being the case, let’s get right to it.

Envelope, please!

Game Ball: Offense

Is any player having a better 2012 campaign than Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson? Against the St. Louis Rams, who hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week 8, Peterson accumulated 212 yards on the ground, becoming the first player since 2005 to run for over 200 yards twice in a single calendar month.

Over the past eight weeks, Peterson has rushed for an NFL-record 1,313 yards and exceed 100 yards a franchise-record eight consecutive times. He is now only only 294 yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s regular-season record of 2,105, set in 1984. He will need to average 148 yards per game over the next two weeks to accomplish that feat. Considering one of those teams is division rival Green Bay, against whom he ran for over 200 yards in Week 13, and he is averaging an outstanding 6.3 yards per carry on the season, it would seem that milestone is well within his grasp.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Roders had plenty of cause for rejoicing this week.

No player in the league is in the running for more awards than Peterson: at the very least, he will get consideration for Most Valuable Player, Offensive Player of the Year, and Comeback Player of the Year. In this writer’s opinion, if Peterson does not run away with the MVP, it will further damage the credibility of an award already seriously lacking in int.

Honorable mention goes to the Green Bay Packers tandem of quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver James Jones, who hooked up to the tune of three touchdowns this week. It could have been four, but Jones wasn’t able to haul the last one in.

Game Ball: Defense

Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews III (hamstring) returned from four weeks on the bench to put forth a marvelous performance against the Chicago Bears. Although it didn’t necessarily show up in the box score, his presence was felt all over the field, rejuvenating a defense that had lost some of its sparkle in his absence. His numbers were certainly respectable: he finished with six tackles (five solo), two sacks of quarterback Jay Cutler, a pass defensed, and a knockdown. He also livened up the afternoon with some zany sack dances.

Honorable mention goes to rookie cornerback Casey Hayward, whose interception of Cutler, although gift-wrapped by one of the worst throws of Cutler’s professional career, nevertheless set the Packers up for an easy offensive score.

Rookie kicker Blair Walsh had plenty of reason for jubilation this week as he tied franchise and league records.

Game Ball: Special Teams

Week after week, rookie placekicker Blair Walsh continues to justify the 6th-round pick the Minnesota Vikings expended to acquire him. Against the St. Louis Rams, he was perfect, successfully kicking five field goals, including three from 50 or more yards away to set a franchise record.

In so doing, he tied an NFL record for most field goals of 50 or more yards in a season with eight, entering the elite ranks of Morten Anderson (1995), the league’s all-time leading scorer, and Detroit Lions kicker Jason Hanson (2008). He has two more weeks to take sole possession of that record. His six touchbacks further extended the franchise record to 47 on the season. Between his accomplishments and those of his teammate Adrian Peterson, it was a spectacular day for the Vikings.

Goat: Offense

There are some tastes that are just so awful, you’re still spitting a week later. Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had one of those days against the Arizona Cardinals, who entered the game on a nine-game losing streak. Stafford completed 24 of 50 passing attempts (a paltry 48 percent) for 246 yards (a scant 4.9 yards per attempt) and three interceptions. These turnovers set the Cardinals up for easy points, with the result that the Lions slinked out of Phoenix having been routed 38-10.

Goat: Defense

With the exception of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (one sack, four quarterback hits), the Detroit Lions defensive line was nowhere to be found against the Cardinals. Only defensive end Willie Young had any impact at all, and that consisted of a single quarterback hit. Admittedly, there is only so much that could be expected of them, considering offensive turnovers repeatedly set the Cardinals up with excellent field position, but they were playing against an offensive line that had given up 51 sacks (almost four per game) — by far most in the league. If the vaunted Detroit line can dominate against Arizona, what hope is there against any other team?

Goat: Special Teams

As if bound and determined to have one of the worst seasons in recent memory, Green Bay Packers placekicker Mason Crosby missed both of his field goal opportunities — from 42 and 43 yards — against the Chicago Bears. In so doing, he extended to eight his appalling streak of consecutive games with a missed field goals. Head coach Mike McCarthy has so little faith in him that at one point in the game, he directed the offense to go for it on 4th-and-nine rather than risk another Crosby miss. For now it appears that Crosby’s job is secure, but it seems certain he will be looking for work in the offseason.

Goat: Coaching

It seems that the obstinacy of Packers head coach Mike McCarthy knows no bounds. After yet another disastrous outing by his kicker, McCarthy insisted that Mason Crosby remains his man. McCarthy surely has earned himself a good deal of grace for winning the Super Bowl two years ago, but one wonders if even the inscrutable general manager Ted Thompson might run out of patience with his bullheadedness should Crosby cost the Packers a playoff game.

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has made a number of questionable calls lately, none more egregious than standing by embattled placekicker Mason Crosby.

Speaking of special teams gaffes, McCarthy also called a bizarre pass from punt returner Randall Cobb to wide receiver Jeremy Ross that backfired horribly and set the Bears up with excellent field position.

Dishonorable mention goes to Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice, who demonstrated yet again that he is clueless how to properly use the assets available to him. After the first drive, in which running back Matt Forte averaged over six yards per carry, Tice all but abandoned the run game for no apparent reason. Why he continues to ignore Forte in his game plans remains a mystery.

Jury summons

If you would like to participate in awarding the Week 16 NFC North Game Balls and Goats, your voice is welcome. There is no Monday Night Football game this week due to Christmas Eve, so be sure to show up on Sunday Night for what promises to be a fantastic NFC West contest between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks.

About the author(s)

Rourke Douglas Decker covers the Green Bay Packers beat for Water Cooler Sports. He resides with his family in the Twin Cities. He can be reached for questions or comments at . Connect with .

210 comments
JVince11
JVince11

Prep A....

 

Let me level with you.... I do say some things just to fuck with some feathers.... but in the same time... I want to be honest...

 

I do respect Alvarez... But I think Wisconsin got into the game too late on the coaching carosol.  I think that the hiring of coaches who have only one winning season under their belt from a mid-level conference shouldn't be brought to big time conference until 2-3 years have been proven.  Just my opinion.. 

 

I also think that college football has shifted.. it is not about having power running and a stifling defense any more.  Those teams don't go far.  Alabama has a VERY good running game and a VERY good defense but they also make it rain out there in the passing game.  It is about a two way game on offense.  I am not saying all teams should play the spread, the read option, but the Pro Style is dying.  Wisconsin is one of these old fashion teams that just don't get it.. They put all of their recruiting in RBs and OL but nothing else on offense. One dimensional teams are a level of boredom beyond drawing tornados on your paper in a lecture hall.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

JVince, as to your disparagement of Andersen, a couple of things:

 

A) Alvarez, a guy you claim to respect, hired him, so despite the Bielema mistake by Alvarez, at least his involvement should lend the hire some credence.

 

B) Yeah, Andersen's record at Utah St is mediocre, but considering that's third fiddle in fucking Utah in terms of recruiting, I'll give him some leeway.

 

C) He's a damn fine defensive coordinator from what I have been reading, and Wisconsin's defense is already on the cusp of being very good.

 

D) Fuck off.

JVince11
JVince11

We are expecting 10-12 inches of snow today around noon hour... schools are to be closed tomorrow...

 

I fucking love this day... I need my fucking snow.. Iowa blows... I miss Wisconsin.

JVince11
JVince11

I have been called a fucklick and it is not even 8:30 am yet....

 

today is a good day...

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

So, is this Gary Andersen guy the very same that fucked over the Vikings via missed FG? If so, I like him already.

andylet445
andylet445

Anyone else notice how good those seahawks have been playing lately?

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

  

 

But you fail to recognize that the prominence of the passing game in Wisconsin's offensive plan has risen over the past few years. Tolzein was serviceable, Wilson a beast, and they thought they were getting more of the same with this O'Brien fucker from Maryland. Stave now seems to be ready to step in and light shit up, and I think the only reason they stayed on the ground so much toward the end of the season was because Phillips, while capable, was more of an Alex Smith type of guy. I think they are incorporating the passing game more than you think, largely because I will bet that you don't watch the games, and just watch the highlights in the hopes of finding shit talking points. We'll see if that trend continues under the new staff.

 

Anyway, I'll be optimistic until I see a reason not to be. Bielema is gone, and I think we can agree that this is an instantaneous improvement at least for the simple reason we don't have to look at that red nosed doofus motherfucker on the WI sidelines anymore.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

  

 

Oh dude I am gonna barf.

 

Pretty young and male for osteoporosis.

JVince11
JVince11

  clown bone density, bro.

JVince11
JVince11

  great.... another B10 team that is all defense and no offense..

 

can you say Chicago Bears?

G & G
G & G moderator

  I can call you pussy if you want...

 

Morning Cutler!

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

  

 

I'll call you other shit if you want. Bagina teeth.

LaCWrestler
LaCWrestler

  I thought it was going to end up showing his ass when it said face. 

niemerg1
niemerg1

  I said your father was a hamster, and your mother smelt of elderberries...WHAT NOW?

JVince11
JVince11

  oh come on.... Russell Wilson was good for them.. but besides him.. they haven't had a "GOOD" QB in over a decade.. fucking Jim Sorgi has been their most productive QB and that was as Manning's back up.

andylet445
andylet445

    a lot of people thought Bo Ryan wasn't a good pick either.  how did that turn out?

JVince11
JVince11

  worst. insult. ever.

 

you actually called me Cutler... 

 

*slits wrists*

andylet445
andylet445

  its like watching Mozart compose a symphony on the football field.  absolutely breathtaking. 

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

  

 

Yes, so you have made very clear you have not watched any game where Stave has started. Excellent.

JVince11
JVince11

  can't forget those sweet 5 yard come back routes

JVince11
JVince11

  "Light shit up" .... my god no... dump off passes to a TE on a 2 yard out route... HB screens.. and WR slants is not "lighting shit up"

JVince11
JVince11

    I honestly don't cared a whole lot about college basketball.. haha.. I cheer for Michigan State and Marquette.

andylet445
andylet445

    7 total NCAA tournament bids before Bo Ryan.  11 with Bo Ryan.  You couldn't get to the final four if you don't even get invited to the dance.  So i'd say what he has done is very good regardless of the big final four you're looking for. 

JVince11
JVince11

    well... he has gotten to how many Final Fours?

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

  

 

I think those aspects will always be a draw.

JVince11
JVince11

  I hated Bielma and his staff.. they didn't know how to recruit if their life depended on it.  I don't know how so many of my teammates and friends that I knew throughout the years went there.  Maybe they didn't want to leave home.. maybe they wanted to wear the "W"

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

  

 

Oops, sorry Chris Ash also, defensive coordinator---no problem, new head coach will probably bring his with him.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

  

 

He took recruiting guys, not coaches. I trust Alvarez to help Andersen get some new high quality replacements.

 

Anyway, I have to fuck with you because I know your Wisco hate limits your objectivity.

JVince11
JVince11

  Didn't Bielma take a bunch of his staff with him?? i don't remember the names but I remember one of them was a "surprise"

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

  

 

Boise State's coach said he wasn't interested. SDSU's coach, the good one, is now at Michigan.

 

Bielema was a defense guy too and they had some of the most prolific offenses in the country under him due to Paul Chryst. It looks like now that he's settled in, Matt Canada will produce similar things assuming recruiting keeps pace. I'll have none of your aimless naysaying. NONE OF IT I SAY!

JVince11
JVince11

    Hiring any coach that is riding out one winning season in a 3+ timeline... I agree that maybe that is how long it took to turn things around or get the kids they want... but a coach with one winning season is not impressive enough to me ot bring ot the B10.

JVince11
JVince11

  There were better options they should have gone after... 

 

Boise State's Coach... San Diego State's Coach.. Arizona State's Coach, Pitt's Coach... 

niemerg1
niemerg1

    the way the players flow on the field reminds me of the chaotic nature of some of his pieces