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Packers vs. Lions: The Aftermath

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Packers vs. Lions: The Aftermath

The Green Bay Packers defeated the Detroit Lions by the score of 24-20.

How Do You Stop A Lion In Its Tracks?

The answer is simple: Run.

The focus of the Packers’ offensive game plan became clear early in the game. Hand the ball to James Starks in order to slow down the pass rush of the Lions. The offense ran the ball 14 times in the first half and added 15 rushes in the second.

In a rare display of play call balance for Mike McCarthy, the Green and Gold finished with more rushing attempts (29) than pass attempts (27).

James Starks led the way with his hard-nosed running on an afternoon where most of the offense fell flat.

Matched up against the Lions’ fearsome four-man defensive line, Aaron Rodgers and the offense struggled to find much open space against seven Lions defenders dropping back into pass coverage.

Rodgers wasn’t spectacular on Sunday, but with the game on the line, he led his team down the field for the winning touchdown.

Young Defensive Backs Making Their Mark

After a few misses early in his tenure, Ted Thompson has hit the mark on defensive backs during the last few drafts.

Rookie Casey Hayward continues to shine. Already leading the team in interceptions, the second-round pick added his fifth interception of the season on Sunday.

Add in his team-high five passes defended on Sunday and the 23-year old out of Vanderbilt had another fantastic afternoon.

Second year cornerback Davon House also played well blanketing his receivers and accounting for one of the defense’s five sacks.

Safety Morgan Burnett flashed his closing speed during a Packers goal line stand by registering a sack against Matthew Stafford. The third-year safety let a ball slip through his hands on a Calvin Johnson touchdown pass, but overall, the former Georgia Tech standout continues to put himself in position to be successful on the field.

It’s still early in each of these players’ careers, but the future of the Packers defensive backfield looks bright.

Game Ball

Jermichael Finley has taken plenty of criticism from the fans this season. At times the critiques are warranted and at other times they aren’t, but with the opposing team regularly double-teaming the Packers tight end, he has routinely become a non-factor in many games this season.

On Sunday, however, he made the most of the three passes thrown in his direction.

On a beautifully designed play in the second quarter, Rodgers and Finley provided one of the Packers’ few offensive highlights.

Running back James Starks trailed after his guard and center as the trio sprinted to the right. Lined up tight to the right side of the line at the snap, Finley slipped out of his stance and ran a shallow crossing route to his left. The Lions’ defenders anticipated a screen and followed Starks as Rodgers deftly found Finley in stride. The tight end did the rest barreling into the end zone for a 20-yard score.

Finley’s number was called again with the game on the line late in the fourth quarter. With the Packers down by six, and the offense struggling, Rodgers found Finley twice. The tight end ran around would-be tacklers and patiently followed his teammates’ blocks for a 40-yard gain. On the following play, the duo teamed up again for six yards.

The drive culminated with a dazzling Rodgers to Randall Cobb touchdown pass, but it was the awareness and presence of Finley that put the Packers in position for the score.

Rating The Lines

The Detroit Lions’ formidable defensive front has given the Packers plenty of problems over the years, but on Sunday, the Packers patchwork offensive line was especially woeful.

Whether it was committing penalties or allowing multiple sacks and pressures on Rodgers, the line looked downright offensive.

The Lions’ defense finished the day with three sacks, multiple pressures and a number of hits on Rodgers. Despite an above average showing in the running game, the Packers’ offensive line struggled mightily in the passing game.

The Packers defensive line, however, played well.

Finishing the afternoon with five sacks, the Packers line was constantly pestering Matthew Stafford and the Detroit offense.

Running back Mikel Leshoure racked up 84 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, but his strong effort was nullified by the combination of an effective Packers pass rush and an off day for Matthew Stafford.

The defensive line kept Stafford from finding a rhythm for most of the afternoon and the team’s five timely sacks ensured the Packers victory.

Redemption

After the debacle that resulted in a week 3 loss at Seattle, safety M.D. Jennings has been waiting all season for another shot at his first career interception.

Early in the third quarter, Jennings’ goal was fulfilled.

After hauling in a tipped ball off the hands of Lions’ tight end Tony Scheffler, Jennings zigzagged his way down the home team’s sideline sprinting past every player on the field. Jennings covered 72 yards to regain the lead for his team and notch the Packers first defensive touchdown of the year.

On a lesser scale, kicker Mason Crosby found his own redemption. Crosby’s right leg ended up providing the decisive points for the Packers. After missing 50- and 38-yard field goals earlier in the day, it was Crosby’s extra-point on Cobb's touchdown catch that provided the difference in the contest. Add in a late 39-yard field goal and the Packers kicker managed to salvage an awful day.

Up Next

After escaping Ford Field in Detroit with a victory and their health, the Packers are riding a five-game winning streak. Nose tackle B.J. Raji limped off the field on the Lions’ final possession of the game, but there were no indications an injury will keep him out of next week’s Sunday night contest against the New York Giants.

Sunday’s victory wasn’t pretty, but the Packers did what was necessary to come away with a road win against a divisional opponent.

 

Max Ginsberg is a regular contributor at CheeseheadTV, blogs at PurplePantsGreenJersey.com and can be reached via Twitter @MaxGinsberg or at maxginsberg[at]yahoo.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (24) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

pooch's picture

Tramon Williams,invisible,maybe Shields can take his place if he cant produce.When 21 got hurt i said they will not miss him...am i right...Woodie hang em up

Tarynfor12's picture

Tramon..invisible....From Packerpedia comes an interesting fact....

Think Tramon Williams had bad day? Calvin Johnson didn't have a ball thrown his way for 18 crucial mins before garbage time catch at the end

Mike's picture

Exactly. He didn't shut down Johnson, but have you seen a more quiet 143 receiving yards?

NoWayJose's picture

Invisible CB = Good CB

PackersRS's picture

You must've mispelled, Max. Rodgers can't muster a game winning drive.

KennyPayne's picture

Redemption for Crosby because he made an extra point? Seriously? Maybe at a high school JV game but not in the NFL not even close.

Norm's picture

That was a 39 yd fieldgoal. Did you forget?

murphy's picture

And missing it would have been a game changer, since the Lions would have needed significantly fewer yards to have a realistic shot at winning, not to mention it would have given them some momentum and brought the crowd into it.

It was an important kick and he hit it. That doesn't cancel out the misses, but it certainly doesn't hurt.

KurtMc's picture

Finally, the combination most fans want. Starks or a running game to keep opposing D's honest while #12 carves up the secondary.

Don't forget Cobb. Huge catch, awesome 4th qtr 3rd and long play.

my only complaint is Cobb should know when to take a kne as opposed to bringing it out. Does he have the green light to try and make a play at every kick off?

Go Pack

Mike's picture

I think he got thrown off because he muffed the catch on about the 1 yard line and thought he couldn't take a knee...

Bomdad's picture

Walden had his foot on the 20 after a KO touchback. Makes it that much harder for the OL. Both OLs were bad. Just sayin.

woodson4president's picture

Did Moses finish with 1 sack or 1.5. Couldn't tell if they'd give him a half for the Waldo sack.

Mike's picture

Just the 1 for the strip

bomdad's picture

Didnt it look like the DLs were lining up in the neutral zone all day, on both teams?

Mike's picture

I feel like five plays a game the opponent's NT is lining up with their hand next to Saturday's...

GBPDan's picture

Yes

Norman's picture

As someone posted on the live blog yesterday, this was M.D. Jennings' second touchdown on an interception this year (although his first TD for Green Bay)! :-)

Derek in CO's picture

I was surprised how bad we struggled in a dome, regardless of opponent. Usually domes are pretty good to us.

IowaPackFan's picture

Divisional games are always hotly contested, no matter where they are played - especially when your opponent is throwing a last ditch effort to save the season

Pack Fan in ATL's picture

I dunno... Minnesota games have been alot better to us than Ford Field

paxbak's picture

Regardless of how we won, I feel that was a big win. To have a chance to win a close one may help down the road. When we got behind in the playoffs last year, we were in uncharted territory and didn't know how to handle it.

Stafford played terrible - we can't count on that every week. Can you believe that on the final two drives Stafford never threw to Johnson? I think he threw to the TE on almost every play.

Our DBs got hands on many balls. That was rare last year. We may have a group of DBs that know how to play the ball.

Can Crosby shake the doubts? We need him to.

I can't believe the pass rush without Matthews. We need to play like that with Matthews in the game. Hopefully we grew on that side of the ball as well.

Did Rodgers give Finley his vote of confidence. It would be nice to add another weapon.

When everybody is back, we may be playing our best ball heading into the playoffs. Isn't that the plan?

Go Pack Go

Chris's picture

Isn't it nice that noone is talking about Newhouse anymore? He played well the last few weeks. He is not spectacular, but if he develops further I could see him as the starting LT for the Packers for the next few years.

toolkien's picture

After every game I see all the complaining I wonder are the Packers really 23-3* over the last two years? If someone went through all the message boards and blogs, and without knowing the Packers' record, you'd swear they were 13-13 at best. It's too bad that a team can't go undefeated and win 50-10 every game to give a rock solid surety that they are going to win the Super Bowl, but sometimes you just have to live with being 23-3*.

Between McCarthy not calling the games right, Cobb not knowing how to return kicks, Rodgers holding on the ball to long, having no running game, T Williams looking so awful, Woodson ready for the old folks' home, the awful offensive line, Dom Capers having his two years of quality per stint used up, Finley dropping every pass, Jones running terrible routes or has terrible hands, and host of other problems, I don't know how the Packers manage to win at all.

Thirty years ago, the Packers would lose a linebacker and Eddie Lee Ivery's kneecap would go flying trying to make a cut and the season was over. Now, with the tough schedule and so many starters now out, the Packers SHOULD be 8-2*(if the Seattle call is made correctly) and be about a 95+% likelihood to make the playoffs (instead of about the 81% they are now). Again, it's too bad the Packers can't demolish every team week after week so people wouldn't have to worry about the Lombardi being in the bag at Halloween or Thanksgiving, but that's just the way it is.

Would I like the team not to have holes? Sure. But one should compare the Packers to WHAT THE REST OF THE NFL IS and not an ideal no one else is reaching. It's been the same story for quite a while now, going back to the days when the Packers were SUPPOSEDLY only Brett "The Great One" Favre and a bunch of "garbage". Do I expect blind homerism? No, but it's like every uneasy feeling a person can come up with that no one else has mentioned spurs another comment. No team is perfect. And to beat a division rival, whose own playoff hopes are on the line, with such a damaged team is something to be happy about, not find every crack and blow it out of proportion.

If the Packers make the playoffs, they will have to win the turnover margin, and if they do they will most likely be champs. And that is not going to be any more assured or not assured on one or two regular season plays one didn't happen to like. Put another way, the Packers could indeed win the last six games 50-10 and I wouldn't see them any more assured of winning it all than if they went 5-1 or 4-2 the rest of the way and only won by 5 points in their wins.

I wonder how many people realize, that since 1992 - and if that Seattle game had been called right - the Packers would own the best W/L in the NFL? And they own the best record against playoff caliber teams in the regular season with or without that botched Seattle call? And the primary reason they didn't have more post season success was because they turned the ball over like it was on fire undoing their winning formula(s)? And yet it continues to be every possible reason under the sun, to a point where one wonders how the Packers managed to be above .500 at all.

Will's picture

Thank you! Packer fans are a fickle bunch. I loved reading a few weeks ago that we should cut Bulaga lol.

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