The Green Bay Packers (5-6-1) suffered their worst beating since 2006, a 40-10 Thanksgiving throttling by the Detroit Lions that dramatically reduced Green Bay's chances of making the playoffs for the fifth straight season and exposed the Packers as one of the NFL's worst teams without Aaron Rodgers under center.
It was over when…
…Matt Flynn took a safety with 53 seconds left in the third quarter, putting the dominant Lions up 16 points. The way the Packers offense was operating, a field goal deficit might have been too much. This was all Detroit, from start to finish.
- James Jones: The Packers finished with 126 total yards, 79 of which came via Jones. The veteran made an incredible catch around the back of Stephen Tulloch in the first quarter, and then battled for a deep ball on Green Bay's final drive. He didn't quit, which is more than you can say for a few others.
- Sam Shields: It speaks to Calvin Johnson's greatness that a six-catch, 101-yard day felt quiet. Shields was beat clean on a few slant routes from Johnson, but no corner can be expected to shut out the game's most dominant pass catcher. Shields later picked Stafford's attempt at Johnson in the end zone, and he wasn't in coverage on the Stafford-Johnson touchdown (a busted zone look). Shields battled.
The Lions out-gained the Packers by 435 yards, which marked the biggest yardage discrepancy in an NFL game since 2005. Detroit tallied 561 yards, while the Packers needed 65 yards on their final drive to get to 126...Green Bay's 126 total yards were the least since 2006, when the Packers had just 120 in a 35-0 loss to the New England Patriots. The 30-point deficit was the largest since that game, too...Detroit had 30 first downs, including 14 rushing. The Packers had seven. And for the first time in 23 years, Green Bay didn't have a rushing first down. The last time Green Bay didn't have a rushing first down in a game was 1990...The Lions averaged 7.1 yards per play. Green Bay finished at 3.0, but for most of the contest, that number hovered around 2.0...Detroit held the football for over 40 minutes, just four days after the Packers played almost 80 total defensive snaps against the Minnesota Vikings...Detroit was 9-for-12 on the third down, while the Packers were just 2-for-10...Green Bay forced four turnovers but still lost by 30 points...One week after Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart totaled 237 rushing yards, Reggie Bush and Joique Bell combined for 211. Bush had 182 total yards...Jeremy Ross, cut by the Packers in September, had a 24-yard reverse, a five-yard touchdown catch and 116 total return yards...The Packers forced just one punt.
– The Packers are dead in the water unless a fading run defense turns around. For the third time in four games, Green Bay gave up 200 or more on the ground. Overall, Detroit's 241 yards rushing were the most allowed by the Packers since 1997. Is there an easy fix? Green Bay is being bullied at the line of scrimmage, and the linebackers simply aren't good enough—especially inside—to consistently shed blocks and fill gaps. This is an execution and effort problem in the front seven.
– Five straight quarterbacks have finished with a passer rating over 90.0 against the Packers defense. Stafford even threw two picks and still finished at 98.5, which speaks to the amount of big plays he otherwise found against a secondary that looks more and more lost every week.
– I won't completely excuse Matt Flynn's performance, but he didn't have a chance to move the football today. The Lions plugged the run consistently—which they've done better than any defense in football over the last month and a half—and then got after Flynn with just the front four. It was an impressive showing from the "scumbag" Lions defensive line. Flynn got whacked on nearly every drop back and took seven sacks.
– Name a team the Rodgers-less Packers could beat. I'll wait. This club is in the Jaguars category without No. 12. Four convincing losses and a home tie to the two-win Minnesota Vikings have come down the pipe since Rodgers left during the Nov. 4 Monday nighter.
– The Packers playoff hopes are now on life support. To have a chance, Green Bay needs to return Rodgers by next Sunday, win the next four games and then hope the Lions and Bears both drop two of four over the final month. It's a stretch. Winning four straight games, even with Rodgers under center, appears unlikely for this shriveling club.
– The Packers now get 11 much-needed days between today's whacking and next Sunday, when the 2-win Atlanta Falcons head to Lambeau Field. Atlanta might be a mess, but this Packers defense might just make Matt Ryan look like Johnny Unitas. Salvaging what ever is left of this lost season must start next weekend.
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.
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