Darnell Savage, Zach Tom pointing in right direction for Packers' playoff push
GREEN BAY − Following are four leftover observations from the Green Bay Packers’ 41-17 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday:
Darnell Savage plays his way back to starting spot
It looks like Darnell Savage has won back his starting job at safety and, in part because of Keisean Nixon’s groin injury, as the primary nickel cornerback. Earlier this season, Savage was demoted from safety to nickel, and then from nickel to dime cornerback. But Sunday he was an every-down player as a safety in the base defense and slot in the nickel and dime. Nixon had been the nickel cornerback in recent weeks but was limited to only return duties Sunday because of a groin injury sustained last week. He’s been so effective as a kickoff returner – he came into the game as the NFL leader in yards and average per return – that the Packers might be inclined to limit him to that role again next week against Detroit to reduce the risk of aggravating the injury. That would likely leave Savage in that role, with Rudy Ford replacing Savage at safety in the nickel, as he did Sunday. Savage had one of the game’s biggest plays when he caught a tipped pass and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown. He also had a pass defensed.
Versatile Zach Tom keeps finding ways to help the Packers
Zach Tom’s ability to play multiple positions on the offensive line as a rookie has been a godsend for the Packers this season. He’d most recently filled in at left tackle for three games while David Bakhtiari was out after undergoing an appendectomy. Then on Sunday, right tackle Yosh Nijman left the game after two series when he aggravated a shoulder injury. Coach Matt LaFleur said Nijman was cleared to return to the game, but the Packers felt good enough about Tom to stick with him so they wouldn’t have to risk Nijman’s injury getting worse. “We have a lot of confidence in Zach,” LaFleur said, “and thought it was best to, unless something bad happened to Zach or another position where we had to move Zach inside wherever it may be, to just roll that way.”
Vikings' blocked punt might have revealed a problem
The Vikings blocked a punt early in the first quarter when outside linebacker D.J. Wonnum (258 pounds) and safety Josh Metellus (207 pounds) bowled over the Packers’ personal protector, Dallin Leavitt (195 pounds). Leavitt recovered the ball before it went into the end zone (at the Packers’ 1) which ended up being key because Vikings failed to punch the ball into the end zone. The Packers defense saved four points by getting three straight stops, and the Vikings kicked the field goal rather than go for the touchdown on fourth-and-2. But the Detroit Lions might try to attack the Packers' interior protection with a similar stunt move after seeing the tape of Wonnum and Metellus getting free runs to overwhelm Leavitt.
Packers fans have some fun mocking Vikings fans
There was a large contingent of Vikings fans at Lambeau Field on Sunday, and the Packers’ blowout win gave the home crowd a chance to mock Vikings fans by doing the “Skol” chant and above-the-head hand clap in the fourth quarter.