Game Recap: Packers Bounce Back, Beat Lions 35-17

Sarah Kelliher recaps the Packers’ week two win against the Lions.

After a devastating loss in week one, the Green Bay Packers (1-1, 1-0 NFC North) bounced back with a 35-17 win over the Detroit Lions (0-2, 0-1 NFC North) on Monday night at Lambeau Field.

Detroit was the first to take the field Monday and immediately tested an already vulnerable Green Bay defense. Quarterback Jared Goff looked efficient on their opening drive and connected with wide receiver Quintez Cephus on 3rd and 1 for a 46-yard pickup after Packers’ cornerback Kevin King was burnt on the play. From there, the Lions cruised through the redzone and Goff connected with Cephus again, this time for a 5-yard play and a touchdown, to take a 7-0 lead.

Contrary to last week, the Packers offense responded well with running back Aaron Jones at the center of it all. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers appeared to be locked in as well. Green Bay opened the game with three straight runs from Jones, which eventually resulted in a first down. Then, wide receiver Davante Adams got involved for an 18-yard pickup and a first down. After that, the Lions gifted the Packers with an automatic first down after an illegal hands-to-the face penalty. Then, tight end Robert Tonyan propelled the Packers through the redzone with a 19-yard pickup and, finally, Jones rushed for another first down before catching a 4-yard pass for a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.

According to Rob Demovsky via ESPN Stats & Info, Jones' 6 carries for 30 yards on the Packers’ opening drive was the most he’s ever had on an opening drive in his career.

Following a much-needed spark on Green Bay’s offense, the defense responded with a big drive of their own. Linebacker Preston Smith came up huge on 3rd and 9 and applied pressure on Goff, forcing intentional grounding and his first incompletion of the day.

After powering its offense through the run on the opening drive, the Packers’ shifted gears and attempted to get their pass game going on their next drive. The decision was costly, and, after the Packers threw three consecutive passes, they went three and out and put the ball right back in the Lions’ hands.

Detroit took advantage and benefited from Green Bay linebacker De’Vondre Campbell’s facemask penalty, which resulted in an automatic first down. From there, the Lions cruised to the redzone and Goff connected with tight end Thomas Hockenson for an 8-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead.

After shifting away from the run game, the Packers pivoted back to it on their next drive. Jones led the way again for Green Bay with support from Adams and his counterpart in the backfield, AJ Dillon. As a result, the Packers shaved nearly seven minutes off the clock and marched 75 yards down the field in 11 plays (ESPN stats).   

Fresh out of the two-minute warning, Rodgers connected with Jones on 2nd and goal for a 1-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 14-14. 12 showed great recovery on the scoring play after missing wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling on an easy one-yarder just one play prior.

With 1:52 left in the first half, the Lions continued to make a fool of the Packers’ defense, exposing King, yet again, for a 20-yard gain. As a result, Detroit was able to drill home a 43-yard field goal attempt to take a 17-14 lead at the half.

However, the Lions’ reign would not last long. The Packers got the ball first in the second half and essentially never looked back.  

After getting sacked on second down, Rodgers connected with Adams on 3rd and 12 for a ridiculous 50-yard play, which, according to the ESPN Broadcast, pushed Rodgers passed John Elway as 10th in NFL history for career passing yards. Just two plays later, Rodgers threw a dart to Tonyan for a 22-yard touchdown and the 21-17 lead.

Green Bay’s defense started to heat up in the second half as well. They forced the Lions to go for it on 4th and 1 and rookie cornerback Eric Stokes came up with a huge PBU that resulted in a turnover on downs.

Then, veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb got in the mix for the Packers. Just like the good ole’ days Rodgers connected with Cobb on a free play for 14 yards and the first down. Then, a defensive pass interference call on the Lions gave the Packers an extra 25-yard boost. Cobb continued to get involved, picking up back-to-back receptions for a total of 12 yards and Rodgers looked locked in. On 2nd and 5, 12 danced all around the pocket and then connected with Adams over the middle for 22 yards and the first down to propel Green Bay into the redzone. And, just as he did twice already, Jones found the endzone again for the Packers for an 11-yard touchdown reception to extend their lead to 28-17. According to ESPN, this was the first time a Packers running back caught three touchdown passes since Andy Uram did so against the Chicago Cardinals (you read that right) in 1942.

After a much-needed boost on offense, Green Bay’s defense continued to answer the call as well. On the first play of the drive, Goff fumbled and linebacker Krys Barnes recovered it for the Packers at the Lions’ 23.

From there, Rodgers connected with Tonyan for an 11-yard pass pickup and then Aaron Freaking Jones rushed for a 1-yard touchdown, his fourth total of the game, to give us our final score of Packers 35 Lions 17. According to The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman, Jones passed Eddie Lacy for 10th all-time on the Packers’ rushing yards list.

To close the game, the Packers’ defense continued to make plays when they needed to. On 3rd and 3, linebacker Rashan Gary applied solid pressure on Goff and forced a fumble. And, although it was quickly recovered by the Lions, Gary still forced the punt and put the ball back in the Packers’ hands.

On the Lion’s next drive, Campbell picked off Goff near midfield to pretty much seal the deal for the Packers. But, the cheery on top took place on 4th and 3 with under two minutes to play when Stokes came through with another PBU on 4th down, for his third total PBU of the game.

 

What we learned: There is still room for improvement for the Packers

Although week two was lightyears better than week one, there are certainly still some areas of improvement for the Green Bay Packers. Perhaps the biggest area of need is on the defense. Although they turned things around in the second half, the first half defense was downright ugly. The Packers have to game plan better defensively and understand their weaknesses. If the Lions can expose Kevin King and beat the Packers with a simple run up the middle, any team in the NFL will do the same thing.

Despite having a great night going 22/27 for 255 yards and 4 TDS (ESPN stats), Aaron Rodgers’ accuracy was still just a tiny bit off, at least for his standards. He missed MVS deep down the field for a touchdown on two separate occasions and missed him on an easy 1-yard route for a touchdown that is usually money for 12. It’s definitely a positive that Rodgers looked more like himself on Monday but, against better teams, he might not get an opportunity for second and third chances to make up for some lost plays. However, I have confidence he’ll sharpen up in the weeks to come.

What went right: Feeding Aaron Jones

Take a bow, Aaron Jones. After essentially abandoning him and the run game in week one, the Packers trusted Jones to propel their offense to victory in week two and oh man, did he deliver. Jones looked electric in both the pass and run game and the Lions had no answers for him.

Jones finished the night with 17 carries, 67 yards and 1 rushing TD and 6 receptions for 48 yards and 3 TDs (ESPN stats). Seems like he was worth every penny.  

What went wrong: First half defense

Watching the Packers’ defense in the first half was like watching paint dry. Giving up 17 easy first half points to the Lions makes me very nervous for what could happen in San Francisco next week. I know the d-train was able to get back on it’s tracks in the second half, but predictable mistakes like we saw in the first half are going to kill the Packers against better teams.

Offensive MVP: Aaron Jones

As Aaron Nagler would say, amazing what happens when you run the ball.

With 4 total touchdowns on the night, Jones is an easy MVP candidate for the Packers.

Defensive MVP: Jaire Alexander

Cornerback Jaire Alexander continues to be one the most consistent players on Green Bay’s defense, and one of the most consistent in the league. He had 4 total tackles on the night, 3 of which were solo (ESPN stats) and was a playmaker for Green Bay on Monday. If Stokes continues to heat up, the two of them could be a truly lethal combination for the Packers.

 

Up next, the Green Bay Packers travel to the West Coast for a primetime Sunday Night Football matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. Kickoff is set for Sunday, September 26 at 8:20 p.m. EST.

 

 

Sarah Kelliher is a contributor for CheeseheadTV and a podcaster with Pack-A-Day Podcast. She can be found via Twitter @sarahkelliher4

 

10 points

Comments (15)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Mario Willis's picture

September 20, 2021 at 11:31 pm

I need Kevin King fired immediately & to have his locker cleaned out by the morning. THEE WEAKEST LINK! Z'adarius is missing and the FRONT can feel it. Defense is still the problem after all these years. SOL (Same Old Lions) or we might have been handled.

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rstain99's picture

September 21, 2021 at 05:49 am

You are spot on, not sure how you got 3 thumbs down. The defense has to improve or they win 8-9 games tops. Good team would have not let GB back in the second half, get this Gute out of the coma he is in and improve this defense somehow. joe Barry is not an improvement. Stout defense is built with good front 7, this group below average at best hardly any pressures first half Goff was not hurried at all. MLF how is that flying around to the ball we all heard off season you wanted. Top ten defense and this team is pretty darn good, this continues sorry all you guys 8-9 wins top.

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Cubbygold's picture

September 21, 2021 at 06:02 am

The beat writers are incapable of painting an accurate picture in the preseason. It's amazing every year. Where's the Burks hype train now? I thought Slayton was going to be a starter and it'd free KC up to have another pro bowl season?

What is happening in preseason practice to prevent this packers offense from tearing through this defense day after day? Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon would have a field day against this front 7. Rodgers would have all the time in the world and MVS or Adams would embarrass King. Is MLF trying not to hurt the defenses confidence in preseason practices?

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CHEESEHEADDALLAS's picture

September 21, 2021 at 09:33 am

We would have got run off the field if it was not the loins .

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ImaPayne's picture

September 21, 2021 at 11:33 am

Were keeping Preston S and Gary on the bench to save them for obvious passing downs. Really. Wish my boss would have given me three months or so off with pay to rest so I could perform better.

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Cubbygold's picture

September 21, 2021 at 05:53 am

The defense these past two years hasn't been dominant, but they have been great at times. The Viking playoff game for example.

Watching these last two games reminds me of what GBs defense looked like for most of the past decade. Scary. But, that's what you get when so much cap space is eaten up by your QB.

We're going to learn alot next week. Hope stokes has the ability to learn the playbook and not find himself out of position as often. He's obviously an upgrade over King.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 21, 2021 at 06:40 am

I wonder if GB puts King and Stokes on the Perimeter and matches Jaire against Deebo Samuels next week?

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Cubbygold's picture

September 21, 2021 at 06:50 am

And let them press I hope.

Who covers Kittle?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 21, 2021 at 07:12 am

Flip a coin: loser covers Kittle. Probably Amos and maybe Campbell? I suspect it might have been Preston Smith at times, but GB is short on OLBs.

Aiyuk had a hammy injury in TC but played 54% of snaps in week two. Had 2 targets and one reception for 6 yards. Aiyuk played 46% of snaps in week one and laid a goose egg: no targets, no stats save for a 7 yard punt return.

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Guam's picture

September 21, 2021 at 08:14 am

Interestingly, the one bright spot for the Packers this year has been special teams. Crosby is always reliable and Bojorquez has been a very pleasant surprise at punter. Hill looks like a good kick off returner and Am. Rodgers has been adequate as a punt returner. Even both the coverage teams have been decent (albeit nor great). Given prior years' performance as well as this preseason performance, kudos to Drayton for getting special teams out from under the microscope and up to at least an adequate level of performance.

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Booner's picture

September 21, 2021 at 08:38 am

Wake up Gute and smell the pizza! This defense stinks! FO have ignored the line and the middle of this soft D! SF is going to expose Barry!

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canadapacker's picture

September 21, 2021 at 09:24 am

Defense will make it so that we dont make the playoffs. Bend and not break is NO good ( as the N.O. game showed us) when they eat up 10 minutes of clock time scoring a TD. Now we might as well run- blitz all the time - because we A. get no pressure rushing 3 or 4 and B. we cant cover when King is out there and C. we give up big runs and middle passes because our outside and middle linebackers are slow as molasses in January. So rather than just sit back and getting our lunch handed to us - play with passion and a lot of different looking blitzes and runs. I mean Goff running for 26 yards on us. Them getting 8 yards ( in the first half ) on little swing passes to the flat or middle? If we dont change it up we will have our lunch handed to us by San Fran - and Garapollo will convert every 4th and 1 on QB sneaks because we are so soft in the middle.

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jont's picture

September 21, 2021 at 09:58 am

"Watching the Packers’ defense in the first half was like watching paint dry."

Yes, if watching paint dry causes you to worry about giving up 40 points next week and going nowhere in the playoffs.

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ImaPayne's picture

September 21, 2021 at 11:37 am

Not saying much until we go forward with tougher competition then the Lions. On that note, in reality had the Lions had decent defensive backs and not too rookie corners and their best guy out for the season, this game would have been closer for sure.
IMO this D may be the worst in a long time. Alexander made one good play but they dont throw to him much so he is negated almost. This is the where is King and who is he covering show.
The Niners game and other tough games going forward will show us who this team is.

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ImaPayne's picture

September 21, 2021 at 11:38 am

PS I can understand why the pack went to the short game and did a lot of running. Keep your own D off the field, not for a rest, but because you know they suck.

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