Nov 18, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (2) attempts a field goal but misses against the Detroit Lions during the fourth quarter at Ford Field. Packers beat the Lions 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-US PRESSWIRE

Packers At Lions Aftermath: Bending Not Breaking?

Nov 19, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Green Bay Packers free safety M.D. Jennings (43) intercepts a pass in the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

The Packers went into Ford Field on Sunday favored to win, expected to win, and almost universally expected to win convincingly. We know a 24-20 win is still a win, but it certainly wasn’t pretty and some serious flaws revealed and re-revealed themselves today.

When the numbers are examined, the Lions outplayed the Packers in most aspects of the game. The Lions had more first downs, more total yards, more passing yards, more rushing yards, and more field goals made. Yet the Packers made plays when they had to make them…at least enough of them to pull out the 24-20 victory.

When the Packers watch the film from this one they’ll see some positives and some negatives. But at 7-3* they’re the owners of a five-game winning streak and they shouldn’t have to apologize for it.

Chest Bumps and Thumps from the Lions game:

Chest Bump - M.D. Jennings for his awesome pick-six! Final score notwithstanding, I don’t think the Packers would have won this game without it. The Packers were due for a big play like this one and I thought it might come against Stafford, who not only has some history of charity with his passes but was off-target with several of his passes today. This particular pick-six was HUGE in the game.

Nov 19, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson (87) is tackled by Detroit Lions cornerback Jonte Green (36) in the second quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

Thump - Drops. Yet again! The Packers are still close to the league lead in drops. This is one area in which the team can drastically improve completely independent of their opponent. It’s well past time to do just that.

Chest Thump - Packers commitment to the run. Even though Starks only had 74 yards on 25 carries, 29 total rushing plays actually outnumbered the 27 pass attempts. Cobb contributed 19 yards on two carries. Every time Cobb carries the ball on a run my heart palpitates, but he is effective most of the time.

Thump - Packers running when they shouldn’t be running. Kuhn running the ball on first and 10 on what looked more like a dive play than anything else. “WTF” was trending on Twitter after that play.

This was just an example of the bass-ackward way the Packers seem to be calling plays recently. On third and short they pass. On first and 10 they run – sometimes effectively and sometimes not. Starks had a couple of strong runs on first down for more than 10 yards in this game. He also got hemmed in a few times for no gain at all. The Packers need to come up with a way to be able to gain two yards for a third down without a downfield throw – that can be dropped. As a couple were today.

November 24, 2011; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) is sacked by Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Erik Walden (93) on Thanksgiving at Ford Field. The Packers won 27-15. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-US PRESSWIRE

Chest Bump - Defensive sacks. The Packers defense had five in this game – one each by Burnett, House, and Moses; two by Walden. Several of these were pure coverage sacks as well. The D was close enough to Stafford that they could have had a couple more. Hayward almost had one. Moses nearly had a second one that caused a missed throw by Stafford.

Thump - Offensive sacks. The Packers O line gave up three sacks today. Rodgers was under pressure for most of the game, and were it not for Saturday’s recovery, Rodgers would have lost a fumble, too. 12 was hit after throwing several times as well. Rodgers was lifted off his feet at one point by Lions DE Fairly and had that play continued to its logical conclusion we’d probably be watching Graham Harrell play QB for the rest of the season. 

Chest Bump - J-Mike Finley. He caught one pass for a nice first quarter TD and a fourth quarter pass that he turned upfield and picked up some serious YAC to help put the O in position for the third TD in the game. It was good to see Finley contribute to more than the Packers atrocious drop totals. Nice work 88. 

Thump - DBs with their hands on the ball but not picking it off. Burnett had a pick go right through his hands and end up in Johnson’s hands for a TD instead. On consecutive passes defensed by Hayward and Richardson in the fourth quarter DB hands were on the ball. But at least they broke those passes up.

Chest Bump - A.J. Hawk’s quietly good performance. I didn’t see Hawk miss a tackle. He led the team with eight solo tackles and two assists. Hawk is flying under the radar right now, but he is definitely helping this team win games.

Thump - Mason Crosby. In more ways than one, Crosby’s erratic performance affected this game. Aside from missing three field goals (I’m counting both of the missed kicks at the end of the first half that could have tied the game), the failed gadget play early in the fourth quarter with Crabtree going in motion seemed at least in part caused by lack of faith in Crosby’s ability to make the field goal.

Nov 19, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (2) gestures after kicking a field goal but the kick was no good in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

Admittedly he did make the PAT to put the Packers ahead in the fourth and the final FG to put them up by 4 with seconds left. But the Packers need a more consistent kicker. Is it Crosby or somebody else? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Chest Bump - Packers pass defense. Even though they gave up a bunch of yards and Megatron had 143 yards against them, the Packers secondary seemed to come up big when they needed to. Jennings’ pick-six. Hayward’s pick. Coverage sacks by the LBs. Not their best performance but it is good to see the young guys making impactful plays.

Thump - Penalties. Drive killers. There were 80 yards worth of penalties against the Packers in this game. After a bye? And after having only one penalty in the last game they played against Arizona before the bye? Several were holding penalties, which indicated to me that the O line was flailing. It seemed like many of the penalties against the Lions were called just to make the game look like it was being called in an unbiased manner.

Chest Bump - Packers run defense. Even though they gave up over 100 total yards to Detroit today, the Packers run defense passed my eye test. There were more runs stopped for small gains, no gain, or loss at critical times in this game than long runs or missed tackles by the Packers defenders. Is it possible to give up over 100 yards rushing in a game and still look as if good run D is being played? I think it is, and I think it happened in this game.

Thump - Going for it on fourth and four in the first quarter. I think “WTF” was trending on Twitter after that call, too.

New this week, some selected excerpts from my in-game notes in order but not indexed:

First half

Plenty of empty seats at kickoff.

Nice 3-and-out by Pack D first series.

Nice job by Bush downing punt inside the 2.

Mustache on Rodgers makes him look like a porn star (sorry Aaron, but I’m not alone in that opinion).

Consecutive holding penalties kill another drive.

Going for it on 4th and 4? Bad move, Coach Mike!

Nov 18, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field. Packers won 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-US PRESSWIRE

Johnson drops a long gainer

Johnson catches a longer gainer

D holds Lions O to 3

Nice pass to Nelson for 1st down but Rodgers got creamed.

Coverage sack by Walden but 4 others were there.

Muff on punt recovered by Lions.

Another penalty keeps Detroit drive alive. Jones wasn’t trying to hit 9 in the noggin but call was inevitable.

Pick by Hayward comes at opportune time.

Rodgers throws a pick? Really?

Stafford suddenly looks awful. 2 straight way off target.

Nice strip by Moses and recovery by Pick.

Pack O line gives up sack to kill another drive.

Crosby misses TWICE!

 

Second half

Pack starts 2nd half in deep hole thanks to IBIB penalty

Cobb nice first down catch

Vanden Bosch flops but refs not buying it so no penalty on EDS. This time anyway.

Sack on 2nd down. Fumble on 3rd down. O needs to get on track.

Nice punt and roll to Lions 33.

D gives up first down anyway.

Johnson behind Williams yet again but overthrown.

Jennings AWESOME pick and 72 return for six!

ANOTHER penalty gives Lions a first down.

Lions sucking up clock on this drive.

Stafford escapes, runs for first down.

Stafford sidearms one into EZ – not close

Nov 4, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers safety Morgan Burnett (42) during the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau Field. The Packers defeated the Cardinals 31-17. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Johnson TD. Burnett could/should have had a pick there.

Cobb with a nice pickup on 3rd and 1.

Kuhn dive on 1st and 10? LOSES a yard?

Another drive killed.

FG attempt trickery backfires.

2 sacks in a row (House/Walden) force a DTT punt.

Pack at Lions 44

Pass to Nelson- 1st down

Holding gives Pack a 1st down.

Two runs and a dropped pass. 4th down.

Crosby misses AGAIN! Craptacular!

Lions move ball but stall and kick a 3.

Bad miss by Rodgers after run by Starks for 1st down.

Finley catch and YAC get O close.

3rd and 1 PASS to Cobb…TD

Crosby makes PAT!

Lions pressure possession.

Incomplete pass, FS penalty, bounced pass brings up 3rd and 15.

Nice pass defensed by Hayward to bring up 4th and 15.

Richardson breaks up 4th and 15 pass.

Pack runs 3 times and lose yardage.

Crosby MAKES it! 24-20 Pack!

Now admittedly these notes are not exactly pearls of wisdom or insightful sports reporting, but they do capture my mindset while watching the game. Let me know if you like them being part of these post-game posts and I’ll keep including them.

Considering pre-game predictions, I’ll hang my hat on the two picks and one for a pick-six. I thought the Packers were due for one and they finally got one! The defense also totaled 5 sacks, although not entirely by the guys I thought might get them. I never would have predicted that this game would have been so close or that so many mistakes would be made by a McCarthy-coached team after the bye in a dome, but isn’t that why they play these games?

At 7-3*, the Packers next travel to New York to take on the Giants next Sunday night. I’ll say only this about that game at this point: If the Packers play against the Giants the way they played against the Lions today, they will have no chance whatsoever of beating them.

Hopefully at least a couple of players will get healthy / healthier, the receivers will figure out how to consistently catch the ball, and the offensive line will start playing better together this week.

Bring on the GIANTS!  Go Pack GO!

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