Rapid Reaction: Packers 27, Lions 20
December, 9, 2012
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
A few thoughts on Sunday night's events at Lambeau Field:
What it means: The Green Bay Packers overcame a two-touchdown deficit and are now within one victory of the NFC North title. They are 9-4 and can clinch the division with a victory next Sunday at the Chicago Bears. The Detroit Lions lost their fifth consecutive game and, at 4-9, have guaranteed the third losing season in the four-year tenure of general manager Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz. It was the Lions' third consecutive loss when leading by at least 10 points, tying an NFL record. And yes, it was the franchise's 22nd consecutive loss in the state of Wisconsin, including the playoffs.
What I liked I: The Lions took the early advantage with a ball-control offense on a snowy night that kept the Packers' offense off the field for nearly 25 of the first 30 minutes of this game. They were aggressive and creative, getting one touchdown on a fourth-down bootleg from quarterback Matthew Stafford and mixing in returner Stefan Logan to their running game. It was 14-0 after just four plays of the second quarter, and the Packers got only 16 plays off before halftime.
What I liked II: The Packers worked their way back into the game in part by getting creative with their running game. They gave DuJuan Harris his first start, featured Alex Green but also mixed in veteran Ryan Grant. In total, they rushed for 140 yards a week after piling up 152 yards against the Vikings. All seven plays on their go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter were runs, and it was capped by Harris' 14-yard scamper. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers didn't have a touchdown pass in a regular-season home game for the first time since his third career start in 2008. But he did contribute a 27-yard scoring run when he caught the Lions in a man-to-man defense in the third quarter.
What I didn't like: The Lions seemed to get away from the running game in the second half. In fact, they ran the ball 24 times in the first half and eight times in the second. Was that because the Packers pulled defenders into the box in response to the Lions' early success? Stafford threw 16 passes in the first half and 29 in the second, and only part of that was late-game hurry-up. In the end, the Lions didn't have the horses to have their usual success in the passing game. Surprise starter Kris Durham made a nice one-handed catch in the first quarter, but it was the last big play he made. Receiver Calvin Johnson had 10 receptions for 118 yards, but he didn't score.
Defensive playmaking: The Packers' defense hasn't gotten many big plays from its defense since linebacker Clay Matthews joined defensive back Charles Woodson on the sidelines last month. So we should note that rookie defensive tackle Mike Daniels made a huge, if risky, play in the second quarter by picking up a Stafford fumble rather than falling on it. Daniels returned the ball 43 yards for a touchdown to close the deficit to 14-10.
Injury report: Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew didn't play much because of a sprained left ankle. His absence was felt.
What's next: The Packers will take on the Bears at Soldier Field. The Lions will play at the Arizona Cardinals, who are fresh off a 58-0 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.