Why They Won: Green Bay Packers defeat Detroit Lions at Lambeau … again

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Dec 28, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is driven to the locker room after being injured during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Concerns To Watch

As with most weeks, while there was plenty of good there were some negative takeaways from the game.

Green Bay will undoubtedly take time to address these issues. Depending how well they adjust/fix them could make the difference between a trip to the NFC Championship or a highly disappointing early playoff exit in a couple weeks.

Dumb Penalties

Green Bay actually did pretty well in the penalty department Sunday, with just five on the day. But it seems to me that every week there is at least one stupid penalty that gets called against them – especially on defense.

This week, the culprit for it was Brad Jones. On a third down play with the Lions driving late in the second quarter, Stafford dropped back to pass but threw incomplete for what looked to be leading to a field goal. But then a flag comes in for roughing the passer, because Jones’ hand went across the helmet of Stafford after he threw the ball.

It was pretty ticky-tacky, but understandable since the refs are mandated to throw flags on just about any type of QB hit. There isn’t really much that can be done here – in a split-second, I doubt anybody could really pull back and/or prevent that light hit – but it is disturbing to see this kind of questionable call happen on a weekly basis.

Knowing that, we have to hope the trend doesn’t continue going into the playoffs. Having one against a team like a Dallas or Seattle could be all it takes for them to pull out a win at the end of a game.

Dec 28, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) fumbles the ball after a tackle by Detroit Lions safety

James Ihedigbo

(32) in the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Turnover Battle

Green Bay lost the turnover battle in this game, 2-to-1. Most weeks it isn’t a concern for this squad – they have the best turnover differential in the league this year at +14 – but with the playoffs starting now, every turnover carries so much more weight.

It shouldn’t be a major issue going forward.

Aaron Rodgers almost never throws INTs (5 on the year, 4 of which deflected off his receivers’ hands), Eddie Lacy does not fumble often (4 total, 3 lost in his career), and the receivers are about as sure-handed a group as there is league-wide.

Still, it bears mentioning because anything can happen in any given game. Turnovers also have a habit of coming in bunches at times.

Hopefully that isn’t the case here.

Special Teams Blocks

I don’t know why, but I somehow keep getting surprised by the failures on this end. Not that I think the special teams are great – I actually think they are quite abysmal as a whole – but I just can’t seem to fathom the blocking issues that are apparently pretty rampant on the unit.

The FG block this past weekend makes it 7 times this year that a Green Bay kick has been blocked. It isn’t even in just one aspect either; 3 are field goals, 2 are PATs and 2 are punts.

Not sure where it started, but it may have something to do with Lang/Sitton not working with those units much (if at all) since their injuries earlier in the year. That’s understandable since both are really good – Sitton is possibly the best guard in the NFL – but that isn’t a good excuse.

The backups like Lane Taylor and J.C. Tretter aren’t starter-quality at this point barring injury, but they still are good enough to make a highly talented roster. They have the skills that should allow them to succeed at holding blocks for the couple seconds it takes to get a kick off.

Whoever is in there should be able to do enough to give Crosby and Masthay enough time to get their kicks off, plain and simple. If these issues are not fixed during the bye-week, we could be seeing a game-changing play that ruins the perfect home record Green Bay has accumulated so far this year.

Unlike the others, this one would have an unfortunate bonus side-effect; sending Green Bay out of the playoffs.

Dec 28, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) lies on the ground after an injury in the second quarter during the game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Calf

I mentioned this last week in my concerns, and I unfortunately couldn’t have been more right.

Luckily Rodgers only missed a couple of series after the reaggravation of this injury, but his mobility was undoubtedly even more limited in his return.

He could be seen limping up the field whenever the ball got downfield, and it doesn’t help that the formerly suspended (which was subsequently rescinded) Ndamukong Suh got in couple well-placed steps right onto the injured leg.

For the kind of injury it is, it is pretty much a certainty that Rodgers will be feeling the effects of this injury until he can properly rest it in the offseason.

Worse yet, it also appears to be something that can be reaggravated pretty easily just performing normal movements on the field.

The fact that he was able to return not long after the reaggravation is a great sign. Despite how much it limits his best traits (mobility & extending plays) he still was able to perform admirably well and help Green Bay regain and then hold onto the lead once he came back into the game.

But stilll … we have to know that any little misstep, awkward plant of his leg or random landing on a tackle could make this flare up again going forward. That means we may be seeing Matt Flynn/Scott Tolzien possibly running the team in the playoffs for stretches – or longer.

Not sure about you, but that idea scares me … a lot.

That’s all for today, Packers fans. Enjoy ringing in the new year!