The Green Bay Packers evened their record at 2-2 with an occasionally ugly but still effective win over the division-leading Detroit Lions (3-2), who have now lost 22 straight regular season games in the state of Wisconsin.
It was over when…
…Aaron Rodgers found James Jones for a 83-yard touchdown that put the Packers up 16-3 late in the third quarter. On a day when defense controlled most of the action, a Calvin Johnson-less Lions offense simply lacked the firepower on offense to make up the deficit.
- Mason Crosby: If you include the 2012 postseason and this year’s preseason, Crosby has now made 21 straight kicks. He made all five of his attempts today, including three from 40 or more yards out. He’s in a groove. And when Crosby is in a groove, few are better.
- T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton: The Packers guard duo won’t face a more disruptive pair of interior players this season than Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. On Sunday, the two kept Detroit’s rough and tough defensive tackles relatively quiet, which is really all you can ask for. Aaron Rodgers was sacked just once, and the Packers rushed for 180 yards.
- Mike Neal: Dom Capers started Neal at outside linebacker and he responded with his best game of the season. The Lions struggled to keep an active Neal out of the backfield. He strung out a run play early, then was the main culprit for a three-yard loss by Reggie Bush. Later, he sacked Matthew Stafford on a straight bull rush. He’s earning a bigger role.
- A.J. Hawk: Quietly, Hawk has been having one of his best seasons as a pro. Sunday might have been his most impressive of 2013, as he was a big reason why Bush only recorded 69 total yards on a day when Detroit needed to feed him the football. Time to give one of the most under appreciated players in recent Packers history some long overdue love.
The Packers and Lions both had 10 drives and ran 64 plays. But Green Bay totaled 449 yards, including 180 rushing, and held the football for almost five minutes longer…The Packers finished 0-2 scoring touchdowns in the red zone…The Lions came into the contest as the No. 1 defense on third down. Green Bay converted on 7-of-16 opportunities…Eddie Lacy finished one yard short of giving the Packers three straight 100-yard rushers. He would have also been the third different running back to hit the milestone for Green Bay this season…The Packers averaged 5.5 yards per carry, thanks in large part to Randall Cobb’s 67-yard jaunt in the second half. C0bb finished with 72 rushing yards, a career high…James Jones’ 83-yard touchdown was the longest of his career, and also his first 80-yard touchdown. It was the sixth 80-yard or longer touchdown of Aaron Rodgers’ career…The Packers tallied five sacks of Matthew Stafford, who came into the contest with just three sacks absorbed in the first four games (NFL low)…With Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson out, Stafford completed just nine passes to receivers…Overall, the Lions called 45 passes to just 18 runs. Detroit averaged 3.4 yards a carry over 18 attempts (one kneel down for -1 yards)…Johnathan Franklin has 16 NFL carries and two fumbles.
– Right on cue, Nick Perry put together one of the better games of his young career. His first sack was the result of getting to the edge on left tackle Riley Reiff, an encouraging development considering he’s been strictly a power player early on. He finished with his first two-sack game of his career. Maybe sitting him in favor of Mike Neal early on lit a spark under the former first-round pick.
– It was a tough day to be a Packers linebacker. Brad Jones went out in the first half with a hamstring injury, Rob Francois tore his Achilles tendon and will likely go on IR, and Clay Matthews left with a broken thumb that might require surgery. Good thing the Lions were hurting just as bad on the offensive side.
– A lot of credit due for the Packers containment of Reggie Bush, who was really the only member of the Lions offense that presented a major problem for Green Bay once Calvin Johnson was ruled out. Bush came into the contest averaging 144 total yards, but the Packers bottled him running the football, and he didn’t make a major impact as a receiver. Once Bush became a non-factor, the Lions were suddenly without a go-to option on offense.
– Poor Matthew Stafford. He was throwing to the likes of Kris Durham, Patrick Edwards and Kevin Ogletree Sunday. Not exactly Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones.
– Wins are wins, especially inside the division. It wasn’t always pretty Sunday, but the Packers beat a weakened opponent with a strong defensive showing and some timely second-half plays. Losing this game—especially after Detroit made Johnson inactive—would have been a disaster. Now 2-2, the Packers are just a half-game back in the NFC North.
– The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens are up next. The Packers need to start stacking successes, while also winning on the road for the first time in 2013.
Zach Kruse is a 25-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covered prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.