Don’t look now folks, but this Packer team, the youngest in the NFL, is starting to grow up. The Packers went into Detroit on a short week, decimated with injuries, and stunned Detroit, beating them in all three phases of the game.
Jordon Love had a game to remember. His stats don’t do it justice, [22/33-268 yards/3 TDs- no interceptions] but they were pretty darn good. Love was 5-11 on third down and would have had at least one more if not for a Romeo Doubs drop. Love and the offense scored 3 touchdowns on 4 red zone opportunities.
The game started with a fantastic deep throw and better catch by Christian Watson, who led the team with 5 receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown. Malik Heath and Jayden Reed each had three catches and Romeo Doubs had three more.
Love’s first touchdown pass, a bullet to Reed snuck between two Detroit defenders, was eye opening and really demonstrated his growth as a quarterback. All day long, Love was calm in the pocket and made good decisions.
Missing one of his key pass catching weapons in Luke Musgrave who is on injured reserve with a lacerated kidney, he found backup Tucker Kraft for Green Bay’s second touchdown of the first quarter. That’s right, Packer fans, this young offense that goose egged multiple first halves in a row, had 2 touchdowns on their first two possessions to start the game against a quality NFL defense.
Both were 75-yard drives. The second answered Detroit’s first drive that also scored a touchdown. The second drive required Love to convert two 3rd downs.
On the first, a third and eight, Love threw a perfect pass to Christian Watson for 9 yards. The second was a third and one at the Detroit 9. Love lofted a floater perfectly to Kraft, who had snuck out of the pocket after a good block fake. The result, a touchdown and a 13-6 lead.
Two plays later, Jonathon Owens picked up Geoff’s fumble, caused by Rashan Gary’s pressure, and sprinted into the end zone. Anders Carlson, who missed an early PAT, was good this time making it 20-6. The Packer defense continued to pressure Goff and kept Detroit from mounting any meaningful comeback.
When you compare the first halves of this game and the previous Detroit game early in the season, the turnaround is almost miraculous. During the September meeting, the Green Bay offense had seven first half possessions.
The dismal result included four punts on three, “3 and outs”, an interception, a turnover on downs at the end of the half, and zero yards after an interception by the defense that resulted in a field goal. Thirty-two total yards for a half. Three points that were gifted by the defense. In that game, the defense gave up 211 rushing yards.
On Thanksgiving the Green Bay defense gave up a respectable 140 rushing yards. They also had 3 huge sacks from Rashan Gary and 2 tackles for loss by Lucas Van Ness and Jonathon Owens.
Owens had himself a game. His fumble recovery and sprint to the end zone changed the game and gave the Packers a 20-6 lead in the first quarter. He also had a tackle where he nearly knocked the cleats off of Detroit’s Jahmyr Gibbs.
The Packer secondary started three backups but never gave up a long pass over the top. The defense forced 3 fumbles, recovering all of them, and had constant pressure on Goff. Rookie Karl Brooks had another highlight play, stripping Goff and recovering the fumble. The Packers led by 15 in the fourth quarter and played soft defense at the end. They ended Detroit’s hopes when Reed gobbled up the on-side kick attempt. A perfect Packer fan ending for Thanksgiving.
An interesting stat was flashed on the screen showing the passing stats of Favre, Rodgers and Love in their first Thanksgiving game. The similarities could be a good sign for the future. The Packers can now rest up on Sunday and focus on Kansas City in a following Sunday Night game in Lambeau. Another great test for this young team. Until then, Happy Thanksgiving week.