And We’re Off
The Detroit Lions won the coin toss — making the Green Bay Packers 2-1 on the season — and elected to defer. Both teams got TDs to start the halves, making this choice a push.
The Packers quickly faced 3rd and 5. On this play we saw something that was a rare event last season and an even rarer one against the Minnesota Vikings. Jared Cook beat his man one-on-one, got inside position and took the slant for an easy 15 yards.
Two plays later, the Lions’ zone lost track of Randall Cobb. Aaron Rodgers scrambled up in the pocket to buy some time and then found Cobb for a 33-yard gain. Three plays later, it was 3rd and 7 from the 14. Once again a Packers’ receiver won their match-up. Davante Adams badly burned slot cover man — and terribly named — Quandre Diggs on the slant. Adams finished the play off by getting into the end zone. Nice play by Adams, too bad we wouldn’t see it again. That made it 7-0.
With Letroy Guion and Datone Jones both injured, the Packers alternated between the nickel and the dime on defense. The Lions seemed determined to test the Packers early with the run. Test away and good luck to you.
The Lions’ first drive appeared to be a three and out when Nick Perry threw Theo Riddick down for a 1-yard loss on 2nd and 10. However, an illegal gesture — yeah, that penalty exists — was called on Perry, gifting the Lions a first down. The Lions would capitalize with an eight-and-a-half minute drive that ended with a short field goal, cutting the lead to 7-3.
On the following kickoff, Ty Montgomery would prove he is smarter than either announcer by fielding the kickoff while out of bounds, resulting in a penalty that allowed the Packers to start at the 40. On the first play from there, the Lions’ zone would get torched again. Jordy Nelson ran a skinny post from the slot, hauled in a high pass from Rodgers and raced downfield for a 49-yard gain. Once again on third down, Rodgers scrambled through a lane in the pass rush and then found Nelson in a hole in the zone. Quickly, it was 14-3.
The Lions didn’t gain a single yard in going three and out. Nick Perry knocked down a pass on second down and then chased Matthew Stafford into an incompletion on third.
On the second play of the Packers’ next possession, Rodgers ran out of the pocket to his left and without stopping, heaved the ball two yards deep into the end zone from around the Packers’ 30. Yeah, that’s a 70-plus yard throw. It’s hard to tell how much Nevin Lawson held Trevor Davis back by grabbing his arm. Regardless, it was enough for the refs to throw the flag. Rodgers threw a 2-yard pass to Richard Rodgers on the sprint out for his third touchdown pass of the game. That is 21-3.
Two plays after Marvin Jones got behind Damarious Randall for a 38-yard play, Randall ripped the ball out of tight end Eric Ebron’s hands and headed up the sideline, returning the ball all the way to the Lions’ 25.
The Packers went three and out and kicked the field goal for a 24-3 lead. On 3rd and 3, the Lions showed a zero look with all 11 guys at the line of scrimmage. Rodgers tried the shot play to Nelson against Darius Slay. Nelson got one hand on it, but couldn’t bring it in. Close, but that pass needed to be more to the outside. Unfortunately, on that same play, Cobb’s defender fell down, leaving him all alone with a walk into the end zone.
The Lions then went on another long time-consuming drive only to be thwarted by a missed field goal.
The Packers followed with probably their best drive of the game. Eddie Lacy broke a 25-yard run through a huge hole up the middle and Nelson had four catches on the drive. The Packers faced a familiar 3rd and 2 from the Detroit 17. The Lions again went with a zero look and blitzed seven. Rodgers responded in fashion by trying the same shot play to Nelson on the other side of the field. This time Nelson gave Rodgers more room to work with to the outside and Rodgers threw the kind of precise pass that we would expect from a quarterback with his resume. Nelson used a light push off to separate from Slay at the 5 and caught the ball over his outside shoulder in the end zone.
That would make it 31-3 and the game was seemingly over.
The Packers defense would then do their best to keep it a game. With only 42 seconds left in the half and the clock running, the defense would commit the cardinal sin of allowing a long touchdown. When Stafford threw the ball to Jones, it was a wing-and-a-prayer, which Stafford has been known for throughout his career. Jones was completely covered by Josh Hawkins. Jones is not going to run away from Hawkins, who is faster than he is.
However, everything comes up roses when Hawkins steps on Jones’ heel. That typically sends both guys to the ground. In this case, Hawkins stumbled and Jones didn’t. Then Hawkins made the mistake of thinking Jones was going to step out of bounds. Jones did well to spin and stay in bounds, stiff-armed Hawkins when he tried to recover and went up the sideline for 73 yards.
The biggest culprit on this debacle was safety Kentrell Brice. Showing zero awareness of the time or the score, Brice cheated up to cover the tight end in the middle of the field, though a completion there would have meant nothing, and allowed Jones to go free up the sideline. Brice then made the same mistake as Hawkins and hesitated when Jones nearly went out of bounds. In the end, Jones ran away from two guys who are faster than him.
That touchdown made it 31-10 at half. With the Lions getting the ball after half, they have a bonafide chance to get back into a game that you thought was over.
Predictably, the Lions scored on their first possession of the second half to keep things interesting. The key to the drive, and much of the Lions’ offense throughout the game, was their success on first down. The Lions averaged nearly 10 yards per play on the five first downs they had in the drive. The Packers had a chance to stop the Lions with 4th down at the Packers’ 2, but Stafford merely rolled and hit Anquan Boldin working against Quentin Rollins for an easy touchdown.
The drive did take nearly seven minutes off the clock, however, and that enabled the Packers to nearly run the third quarter out on their next drive. Rolling with Eddie Lacy on five of the first six plays of the drive, Lacy carried the Packers into Lions’ territory. On 3rd and 10 from the 32, Rodgers ran for a first down at the Lions’ 13. However, the referees rescued the Lions with a weak holding call against Bryan Bulaga. That made it 3rd and 20 and Rodgers did well on the next play to scramble back into field goal range. Crosby put it through to blunt the Lions’ momentum and make it 34-17.
The Lions did more of the same and drove the field again. However, on 3rd and six from the Packers’ 24, Nick Perry sacked Stafford, forcing a field goal attempt from 46 yards out. Matt Prater pushed it and the Lions got nothing.
Three carries by Eddie Lacy got the Packers near midfield on their next series. However, Rodgers threw it behind Cobb on 3rd and 8 and the Packers were forced to punt for the first time in the game.
The Lions picked up one first down before sacks by Kyler Fackrell and Nick Perry forced a rare punt from the Lions. With a chance to put the game away with any semblance of a drive, the Packers came up with a three and out.
Running out of time, the Lions hurried their way to the Packers’ 35-yard line. From there, Stafford again hoped for a miracle from a well-covered Jones and got one. This time, Randall stepped on Jones’ foot and fell down. Jones managed to stay on his feet and then catch the pass while falling backwards into the end zone. That would make it 34-27.
That would be the end of the line for the Lions, however. The fans booed anxiously when the Packers ran Lacy straight ahead on 1st and 2nd down. Facing 3rd and 8, Rodgers passed up throwing the ball to Cobb or Adams, who were open, and scrambled out of the pocket for 11 yards. That would essentially end the game. Eddie Lacy would get his 100 yards and the Packers would pick up one more first down after that to run out the clock.
- Nick Perry – A+
- Jake Ryan – A
- Jordy Nelson – A
The Worth Mentioning
- Aaron Rodgers – B+
- Eddie Lacy – B+
- JC Tretter – B
- David Bakhtiari – B
- Mike Daniels – B
- Ladarius Gunter – B
The Abject Failures
- Damarious Randall – D
- Quentin Rollins – D
- Micah Hyde – D+
- Kentrell Brice – D
- Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – MIA