Tha Sports Junkies 101

Green Bay Barely Holds On In A Tale Of Two Halves Against Lions

Green Bay - NFL Gareth Davis via


First Half Explosion Barely Enough for Green Bay

Legendary college football coach Bobby Bowden was once quoted saying he would rather “win ugly than lose pretty”, and I can’t think of a better way to describe Green Bay’s 34-27 win Sunday afternoon over Detroit than that.

However, much of the first half the Packers were far from ugly.

In the first 30 minutes of the game, Green Bay’s offense had 6 possessions and put points up on all but one of them. The lone drive without a score came about only because the half came to an end.

The scoring opened up on drive one when Aaron Rodgers led an 8 play, 75-yard march to the endzone.

Rodgers looked impressive completing 4 of 5 passes for 64 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Davante Adams who shook his defender after 5 yards.

Notable on the drive was that Rodgers was able to turn back the clock on the West Coast Offense and complete all 4 balls to different receivers (Lacy, Cook, Cobb, Adams). Overall, 8 different guys would get onto the stat sheet by the game’s end.

Only Jordy Nelson would accumulate 3 or more catches. Tight end Richard Rodgers and the aforementioned Adams were the only players with more than one.

Detroit showed one of their only signs of life in the first half on possession number one.

The drive should’ve been stopped multiple times but the Packers defense allowed QB Matthew Stafford to complete 3 third down conversions, as well as awarded them a first down on a misconduct penalty by the Packers.

Ultimately, Green Bay’s defense held up and forced Detroit into settling for 3.

On the ensuing kick-off Detroit attempted to pin the ball near the pylon.  They were hoping to either force a touchback or force young returner Ty Montgomery into a bad return. Instead of panicking, Montgomery waited for the bounce. He intelligently laid down out of bounds and reached out and grabbed the ball inside the 5. Since he contacted the ball while out of bounds, there was a penalty on Detroit for an illegal kick-off.

The incredibly savy special teams play led to the Packers having the ball at the 40-yard line rather than the 3 or 4. Rodgers didn’t waste time capitalizing on the effort.

On the subsequent four play drive, consisting of two completed passes from Rodgers to Nelson for 57 yards and a score, the Packers covered 60 yards in under two minutes.

Detroit used about that much time to go three-and-out on their next possession. The Packers were up 14-3 and it seemed the route may be on.

Green Bay must’ve been looking to make a statement, because their third possession they cashed in even faster than the previous, in 47 seconds to be specific.

Rookie receiver Trevor Davis drew a 66-yard defensive pass interference call on the second play of the drive, setting up a 1st and goal inside the 5. Probably the most impressive part of the play was the 70-plus yard off balance throw Rodgers unleashed to Davis.

On the next play Rodgers found his tight end Richard Rodgers wide open in the flats for a third touchdown. The Packers had put up 21 points on only 14 plays, and in only about 5 minutes of the 16 minutes of game time.

Most of the game Stafford and the Lions offense picked on 2nd-year corner Damarious Randall, but for a moment in the 2nd quarter he made up for his many miscues. On a pass thrown behind tight end Eric Ebron, Randall ripped the ball out of his hands as he went to the ground resulting in a pick. He was able to return the ball 44 yards into Lions territory and the offense turned it into 3 points.

Mason Crosby’s field goal led to a milestone for the veteran placekicker. The 36-yarder extended a streak dating back to 2012 of Crosby being perfect at Lambeau from 40-yards and in.

After Detroit’s kicker Matt Prater missed his opportunity at putting some points on the board, the Packers again took advantage of their miscue.

Running back Eddie Lacy started the next drive off with a run of 25 yards up the middle to set the tone, and the Rodgers-Nelson connection would take it the rest of the way. The duo would find each other four times for 34 yards and their second touchdown of the game.

Rodgers ended his first half going 12 of 18 for 174 yards and 4 touchdowns. It was the second time in his career he had thrown 4 touchdowns in only a half.

The Lions were able to gain a little momentum back before the teams would head into the locker room. Stafford found his new favorite target Marvin Jones on a 73-yard touchdown pass down the sideline with 30 seconds left.

Jones used his speed to blow by undrafted rookie Josh Hawkins who stumbled over his own feet before missing a shoe-string tackle. The long pass would make the score 31-10 heading into the half. Incredibly, the teams were tied at 211 yards each despite the score differential.

Nothing is more frustrating than overused sports cliches, but this game was a true representation of the saying “a tale of two halves”.

Trying to go two-for-one, the Lions received the 2nd half kickoff ready to keep their momentum going.

Stafford led his team on a 12 play drive spanning 77 yards. He was able to complete 6 of 7 passes for 58 yards along the way. After being stuffed at the 1-yard line by the Packers front 7 twice, the Lions went for a 4th down on the 2 and completed a pass to Anquan Boldin for a touchdown on a simple out route poorly covered by corner Quinten Rollins.

Instead of letting Rodgers attempt to continue his dominance, McCarthy looked to big man Eddie Lacy  to establish the run in their first drive of the 2nd half.

Lacy reeled off four consecutive positive running plays of 8,6,7, and 9 totaling 30 yards on 4 carries. In total, he ran for 103 yards on 17 carries. According to PFF, his 6.1 yards-per-attempt and four broken tackles helped him finished with a grade of 74.4, 6th overall among halfbacks.

After settling for a field goal yet again, Green Bay found it a struggle to stop the Lions offense the rest of the game. Stafford was zipping the ball around the field to open receivers. There is a reason the Packers defense sits at 28th in the league at yards given up through the air, and their lack of depth was on display.

Safety Morgan Burnett was out due to injury and Micah Hyde was left to fill in. He failed throughout the game to stay with tight end Eric EbronEbron finished with 5 catches for 69 yards.

However, it seemed the Lions really found their groove when targeting Marvin Jones. He showed his big play potential multiple times in the game, including that 73-yard touchdown at the end of the half, and more times than not it was over the top of the above mentioned corners, Randall and Hawkins.

Late in the game it was Stafford and Jones hooking up on a 35 yard touchdown to draw the score within 7 at 34-27. Jones put up video game numbers throughout catching 6 passes for 205 yards and his two scores, over 34 yards per reception. Stafford didn’t do too shabby either finishing the game completing 28 of 41 passes for 385 yards and 3 touchdowns.

There was a lot of negatives on defense for the Packers, but for a third straight week a large positive was linebacker Nick Perry.

Early in the 4th, the Lions had a chance to make it a 10 point game, but faced a 3rd down around the 30-yard line. They had been driving the ball with ease before a false start turned a 3rd and 1 into a 3rd and 6. Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers finally fired up second half blitz that worked. Detroit’s rookie left tackle Taylor Decker had been having trouble with Perry all day, and on this play Decker seemed to be standing still as he gave up a game-changing sack.

Perry has been one of the best outside linebacker’s in the league so far this year. Currently ranked tied for 2nd among 3-4 outside linebackers in sacks as well as in total pressures with 16. The sack gives Perry 3.5 on the year and forced Detroit into another field goal attempt. Instead of a 10, the Packers held a two touchdown lead.

Many were waiting for Rodgers to put the Lions away as he had done the first 30 minutes. However, head coach Mike McCarthy’s conservative play-calling wouldn’t allow it. The Packers offense even received a rousing “boooo” from the usually supportive Green Bay crowd after a three-and-out that led to the Lions final Stafford-Jones score.

After his noteworthy first half, Rodgers only threw 6 times in the second half for 31 yards on 3 completions. This means his final stat line ended up being 15 of 24 for 205 yards and the 4 touchdowns. It’s complete play-call shifts like this that frustrate the Packer faithful.

It brings back bad memories of the NFC Championship game a few years back when they blew a big half-time lead to Seattle due to being over conservative. It puts entirely too much pressure on a defense that can’t withstand it.

Rodgers would essentially put the dagger in Detroit on a big 3rd down scramble of 11 yards with no one open down the field. He would then find Adams on a slant route and hand it off to Lacy for consecutive plays of 9 yards to ice the Packers 2nd win of the season.

The Packers offense provided a glimpse into how good they can really be, but against a beat up defense like Detroit it only means so much. The upcoming bye week will provide a needed break for guys like Burnett and linebacker Clay Matthews to heal up. When Green Bay takes the field at Lambeau in two weeks against a good Giants secondary, we will see just how “back” Rodgers and company really are.