The Green Bay Packers defeated the Detroit Lions 27-20 in the Sunday night snow at Lambeau Field in front a stadium full of snow-crazed fans and a national TV audience. The atmosphere was unmatched anywhere else in the NFL.
What the Packers showed fans all over the world is that even though they are now standing alone at the top of the NFC North standings at 9*-4, they’re not perfect. Their ceiling is still considerably higher than their current play would indicate.
The Packers were out-statistic’d by the Lions in nearly every category. Time of possession, passing, first downs, total offensive plays, penalties … looking at the stats and nothing else it would seem the Packers had been housed. For most of the first half they were housed. Yet they came back and pulled out a victory.
The Packers do not and will not ask forgiveness for winning ugly games. This game was ugly in many ways, but all that matters is the W at the end of it. The Pack did some things well and some other things poorly against the Lions. There is still room for improvement in many areas.
That a team can have a record on 9*-4 at this point in the season and really only have one dominant win makes it seem as if the team is going through the regular-season motions and looking forward to getting into the playoffs. If they get hot in the playoffs then fine, but until they put another total game together we’ll all be wondering if they can do it.
I thought the game started out very well. For the Lions. The Packers started out by playing porous defense that allowed a first-possession TD to Detroit. When the Pack O took the field they moved the ball but a breakdown in blocking led to a strip sack and eventually another Lions TD. It didn’t look good. In fact except for the Daniels fumble return and some strong runs by Green and Harris it looked really bad.
The Packers held their own in the second half, coming up with defensive stops when they needed them and making enough plays on offense to win the game. I still don’t like the tone the team has set, but it’s better than losing!
There are plenty of Chest Bumps and Thumps from this one:
Chest Bump – Mike Daniels for his HUGE fumble return for the Packers first TD. This play changed the entire fabric of the game. Rumblin’ and stumblin’ for the TD he looked larger than life. Although big 76 could have used some more ups for his Lambeau Leap, he got there and brought the crowd and the Packers back into the game.
Thump – Penalties. Again. Some of the calls made on the Packers, notably the hold on Sitton and the PF on Burnett, were questionable at best. But most were legit and seem to indicate a lack of focus. There is no excuse whatsoever for lining up in the neutral zone or jumping offside. Period. The Packers need to clean that up now. And B.J.- when committing an illegal hands to the face penalty try to look a little bit less thunderstruck when it’s called, big boy!
Collective Chest Bump – Packers run offense for another solid outing. Green looked strong. Harris looked quick. Even Grant looked good on his one carry. Everybody from McCarthy on down would love to have a better run game. At this point they suddenly and satisfyingly do. Here’s hoping they can keep that going because it will make everything else easier for the offense. Would anybody else like to see more of DuJuan Harris? I know I would.
Thump – DBs for not finishing on INT opportunities. Shields, Hayward, and McMillian all had INT opportunities go through their fingers. Shields had a couple of them but he also finished one. The Packers are nowhere near what has to be considered their “normal” takeaway numbers. A large part of the disparity is the number of dropped INTs. New gloves? More practice? Better focus? Try ‘em all and stick with whatever works.
Chest Bump – Don Barclay for a steady if not perfect performance at RT. Barclay had the kind of game every OL wants to have – few mentions and few glaring mistakes. He missed a block on Suh that forced Rodgers into the strip sack in the first quarter, but Suh didn’t make the play. There were a lot of nice runs in this game and the entire OL deserves credit for making them happen. Barclay gets a Bump for his first start and playing more or less just as well as the other veteran O linemen. Nice work, 67.
Thump – First half defense. During the first half it looked as if everything Detroit wanted to do they were able to do and do easily. Some of this was due to scheme. Some was due to personnel. But all of it eventually goes back to Dom Capers and his responsibility to do what it takes to stop the other team. I didn’t have an opportunity to analyze which defenses were successful and which ones were not, but thankfully the adjustments at halftime took hold and worked out. The Packers have to stop playing really bad halves of offensive or defensive football though. That won’t fly in the playoffs at all.
Chest Bump – Tramon Williams for his defense against Megatron. I’m all in on Optimus Prime. Tramon didn’t shut Johnson down, but nobody does. What Johnson did not do was have his customary stellar top-two or three weekly WR performance. Most of the credit for that goes to Optimus Prime. He’s still the best cornerback on the roster, but he’s getting some push from the new guys.
Bump Thump – Aaron Rodgers for a less-than-amazing performance. Rodgers did not throw for 200 yards. He didn’t throw a TD. He looked stymied at times and he missed several throws that he ordinarily makes.
But … I’ll still take 12 over any other QB in the league. When he does make those plays only he can make it de-emphasizes the fact that he’s human and fallible. He clearly wasn’t at his best against the Lions. But even when he’s not at his best he’s still (occasionally) one of the best anybody can remember. His ability to draw defenses offsides and take advantage of the resulting free play is unmatched.
Thump – The entire team for coming out flat. This is a phenomenon that defies logic. When a team knows before kickoff that their hated rival and co-division leader has lost their earlier game, thereby opening an opportunity to take over first place in the division with a win, comes out and looks like the Packers did in the first half it drives fans crazy. How does that happen anyway?
Chest Bump – Randall Cobb for another solid performance. Cobb led all receivers with over 100 yards on seven catches. He managed to find open seams when the Lions played zone. The 38-yard throw from Rodgers against the 3-man rush in the fourth quarter was textbook QB/WR sight adjustment, and he stacked YAC on top of the reception. I’m going to enjoy watching him develop. Some more.
Chest Bump – To the kickers for managing the elements. Yes … I know Crosby missed a 51-yard FG. But he made one from 49 and another from 42 in really miserable conditions and he gets a break from me for doing a good job on kickoffs and making all his PATs. Lions kicker Hansen had a miss that came up short from 51. I’d rather be wide right or left than short.
Masthay did a good job, too. Punting in conditions like those at Lambeau for this game is tricky stuff, and he handled the snaps well and averaged 44.3 yards (37.7 net) on 3 punts. He had a 53-yarder, which is plenty respectable with wet snow and swirling wind.
Here are the mildly entertaining tweets I broadcasted during the game – last ones listed first. Scroll down to read from the beginning of the game. I think they frame the comments made above. And nobody has told me they don’t want to see them any more either. Review them at your peril:
– Turn out the lights on this ugly but big win. Good night daring followers!
– Hahaha…there is your dagger! Lions onsides KO goes OOB to end it. Pack now 9*-4 and own 1st place.
– Detroit not looking like they think they can win. (Final Lions possession looked painfully slow)
– Time for one last big play D!
– That was the worst looking Rodgers play. EVER. But it doesn’t matter. (The fall down sack on third down)
– Sounded like a pretty weak Kuhn call in 5.1 surround. (On second and 8 Kuhn loses 3)
– NBC now talking up Suh. Spare me. If indeed he doesn’t care what anybody thinks he’ll never change his dirty play.
– Or not. I think he trapped it. Either way Pack D comes through BIG in 2nd half and Pack O takes over!
– McMillian does finish on an INT.
– Hayward with another dropped INT. By my count that’s 4 by the Packers in this game. (On third and 10)
– Hayward is one tough hombre. Nice tackle on Bell. (Hayward upends Bell on first and 15)
– That’s two Sam could have had…in addition to the one he did pick. Finish on those 37! (Lions first play of their next to last possession)
– Crosby with another (shorter) FG and the Packers lead by 10. Come on defense!
– Even a quick back like Harris can’t get anywhere with no hole. Come on O line…make it happen! (First and 10 Harris hemmed in picks up 1)
– Cobb with a HUGE catch for the first down. Rodgers reads weak rush and makes the play with his mobility. #MVP (Third and 11 pass to Cobb for 38 yards)
– Really could have used a better play on that 2nd down Mike McCarthy. Can we please try sticking with what works now? (Second and 8 play Kuhn loses 3 yards)
– A drive with no passes for the TD by the Pack O? Really? I’ll take that every week please! (the drive ending with Harris’ rush TD)
– That wasn’t hands to the face on Raji. That was a forearm to the chin. C’mon refs. Get it right. Drop it Raji! (IHTF on Raji during Lions first possession in the 4th quarter)
– Will Ferrell wearing the pornstar ‘stache and leading Roll Out The Barrell at Lambeau. What an attention whore. Funny though. Go Pack!
– Harris with a clean rushing TD…nice blocking by O line too! Keep it up big guys! (Harris bursts through a hole untouched for the TD)
– 2nd and 1 too! Welcome back Ryan Grant! (Ryan Grant picks up 13 yards on his only carry of the game)
– I like watching the Packers convert 3rd and 2 on the ground! (Green up the middle)
– Too bad 37 couldn’t grab that ball but nice job on pass D Sam! (Pass defensed against Johnson on third and 4 Lions first touch of the fourth quarter)
– Still knotted up at 17 going into the 4th quarter. Time for another big play D!
– And a missed FG from 52. Not good.
– Nice one handed catch by Cobb, then a dropped pass and a sack.
– Nice 3 and out by Pack D. Rodgers time again! Go Pack! (Lions second possession of the third quarter)
– …and then Green gets creamed in the hole. Nice! (On second and 6…no gain)
– Keep running the ball Packers…it looks so good in the snow! Or any weather for that matter… (Green picks up ten yards on first down)
– Nice Rodgers to Jones conversion to keep drive alive (On third and 9)
– Nice hold to 3 by Pack D. Lions aided by flaky refs yet again. Packers always have to overcome so much to win games! 17 all in the 3rd.
– Ticky tack call on Burnett. Going for the ball not after the receiver. (Welcome to the new NFL)
– Aaron Rodgers scares the shiznit out of me every time he takes off on a run but that was NICE! 17-14 PACK on top!
– Nice RUN on 3rd and short by Green to get the first down. Encouraging. (Actually it was second and 1, but it was still a nice run!)
– Suh true to form…a complete joke of a man. (PF penalty for the cheap shot shove of Rodgers after ball was away…the two step call)
– Rodgers the master of the free play (On third and 14 Lions jump offsides, Cobb can’t make the play on the ball)
– Wow that shovel pass looked craptacular! (intended for Cobb who fumbles but recovered by Saturday)
– Yup…put the first half in the thunderbowl except for Daniels return and some, but not enough, nice offensive plays. 14-10 Lions at half.
– On an unrelated note, in the Viagra spot with the guy on the sailboat…the sailboat is actually being TOWED. Thought you should know. (Watch closely…you can see the towline in the shot!)
– Another crappy call by the non replacement refs. Nice. (Sitton sees Lions DE moving…so does everybody else except the refs)
– Welcome back SAM SHIELDS! Runs down returner to save long return and later comes up with big pick! So glad you’re healthy 37!
– Broken coverage allows another Lions 1st down. D has to tighten up! (Pass over the middle to Bell on third and 6)
– Nice D 38…keep it up! (On second and 6 Lions fourth possession)
– Lambeau crowd back into it too!
– Woo hoo! Daniels with a HUGE fumble return for a TD…and a Lambeau Lunge. 14-10 Lions but Pack now wide awake. Go Pack!
– Pickett’s gotta make that sack! (On third and 1 Lions third possession)
– Crosby MAKES it! Slump officially over!
– Nice run by Green to set up 3rd and 6
– BS call on Sitton. Thanks refs! (Phantom holding call on second Packers possession)
– This won’t keep up. Detroit hasn’t played this well in WI in decades. Pack D will rise up and Rodgers will figure out a way to win this one! (and they did and did!)
– Lions win the first quarter. TG we still have three more to go!
– House not tackling…Raji in NZ at snap. Pack D better snap out of their funk right quick!
– Aw come ON! Moving the ball and a strip sack ruins it all. Rodgers steps around missed Barclay block and zing…Lions ball. So it goes.
– Only Rodgers makes that play…nobody else! (Second down stumbling falling throw to Cobb for 20 yards)
– Green looking strong too.
– Rodgers running…heart pounding.
– Harris looking strong on that first carry!
– Well that was a crappy start. D had better tighten up. It’s Rodgers time people! (After first Lions TD)
– Zombo’s gonna catch it for that block by Stafford! (On the Lions reverse getting blocked by the QB)
– Where’s the run D Packers?
– Barclay starting for Lang not much of a surprise. He’s gotta get the job done. He’ll have some help.
– Lambeau looks mighty Christmasy!
– Getting ready for Lions at Packers. Snow falling. Lions losing? Go PACK!
Want to keep seeing these every week? Let me know. Or follow me at @PackersTX.
I’m going to have to retire from making the Fearsome Predictions because I’m so bad at it. I had a couple correct and a couple close. Rush yardage was 140…not quite 150 but it looked so good when it worked. Harris and Rodgers both scored on the ground, but Rodgers didn’t have a TD pass. Suh didn’t stomp, kick, or otherwise assault any of the Packers- at least not that the cameras caught. The Packers only picked off Stafford once, but it could have been more like four or five had all the offerings been snagged by the Packers DBs. So is there a mulligan limit on this course?
Here we go Packers fans. A Bears game with the NFC North Title more or less on the line. Big stakes. With a couple of big names close to coming back for the Pack. This one should be epic. Let’s just hope it’s epic for the Packers!
Bring on the Bears! Go Pack GO!