After a week of criticism and perhaps premature death pronouncements, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers offense showed up for one half at Lambeau Field today. It was ONLY one half, but it was enough.
Bringing up memories of 2014, the Packers offense threatened to bury another opponent at home by scoring on every first half drive, including three straight touchdowns to open the game.
We need a running game? Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy continue to scoff at your ignorance. The Packers came out, spread the Detroit Lions out and threw the ball around. Their three touchdown drives to start the game featured 10 passes and four runs.
The Lions appeared to play a lot of zone defense in the first half, probably in an attempt to protect the backups they were playing at linebacker, and they paid the price for it. Twice in the first three drives they lost track of the slot receiver. On the first, Randall Cobb, on his only catch of the game, went for 33 yards to set up the Packers’ first score. On the Packers’ second possession, Jordy Nelson went for 49 yards on the first play of the drive. On the following 3rd and 8 from the 9, Rodgers found Nelson for the score that put the Packers ahead 14-3.
The lead quickly ballooned to 21-3 after a deep ball for Trevor Davis netted a pass interference call that gave the Packers the ball at the Lions’ 2. Rodgers threw his third touchdown of the game on the next play to Richard Rodgers.
It appeared to be another laugher at Lambeau against the Lions when Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson on a 17-yard go route to put the Packers ahead 31-3 near the end of the first half.
However, that’s when everything positive for the Packers, except for Eddie Lacy, pretty much ended for the day.
We knew the Packers’ young secondary would be tested again and that a pass rush without Clay Matthews and Datone Jones could be hard to come by. Except for the supreme efforts of Nick Perry, all that was true and then some. The Packers’ secondary seemed to take turns falling asleep, and Matt Stafford rang up 385 yards against them.
The most ridiculous failing came right before half, when a quick strike that never should have happened could have been the turning point in the game. With only 42 seconds left in the half, the Packers’ secondary inexplicably gave up a 73-yard score to Marvin Jones. Josh Hawkins, getting his first action, first stumbled and then assumed Jones would go out of bounds. Kentrell Brice, the safety on that side of the field, showed remarkably poor situational awareness by cheating up on the tight end and allowing Jones to get behind him.
The Lions got the max out of the consecutive possessions around halftime by scoring a touchdown coming out of the half. Those touchdowns changed the complexion of the second half.
Fortunately for the defense, the Packers offense managed to run out the clock to save the 34-27 victory.
Until I see a more even performance, against an at least average defense, I am going to withhold judgement on the Packers offense being “back” in any sense of the word. Obviously, all of Packers Nation is also concerned with a secondary that has given three straight quarterbacks their best games of the season so far.
That being said, winning at home and within the division is all that matters at this point. The Packers offense at least showed up for a half more than they did against the Vikings, and that is an improvement.
Ultimately, Rodgers finally put up a rating over 100 (129), even if his yardage total was more of the same (205). Eddie Lacy got over 100 yards (103), and probably most encouraging, Jordy Nelson had a good game (6, 101, 2 TDs).
As for the defense, getting some guys back healthy after the bye would help.
The Packers will now head into the bye week at 2-1 and solidly in second place in the division. Long ways to go, but before the bye is always a great time to get a win. Nothing is much worse than dwelling on a loss for two weeks.