After watching the Green Bay Packers get dismantled by the Broncos and Panthers, it was hard to imagine things could get much worse for Green Bay. A visit from the league-worst Detroit Lions seemed to be the perfect remedy for a struggling football team.
But the Packers failed yet again to get themselves rolling in a heartbreaking 18-16 loss to the Lions. It marked the first time in 24 years that Detroit won a football game in the state of Wisconsin.
In a storyline that has been too familiar so far this season, it was the defense keeping Green Bay in the game as the offense failed to get any form of momentum going. The Packers really had no business even having an opportunity to win the game, but things kept going Green Bay’s way in the fourth quarter until Mason Crosby missed a potential game-winning 52-yard field goal.
The game looked good at the beginning for the Packers. Green Bay moved the ball seemingly easily on their first possession, capped off by a field goal that gave the Packers a 3-0 lead. Meanwhile, Detroit did not score any points until they kicked a field goal of their own on their last possession of the first half.
But while the defense rendered the Detroit offense ineffective, the offense simply could not get anything going. The Packers punted on nine straight possessions following the field goal in the first quarter, and did not score again until there were less than six minutes left in the game.
Even with the poor showing from quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense, the Lions simply refused to shut the door on a Packers’ comeback. Green Bay finally put together an 11-play, 75 yard drive in the fourth that concluded with a touchdown pass to Richard Rodgers to cut the deficit to 12-10.
The Packers’ defense, which had played well for almost the entire game, needed just more stop to give the offense just one more chance to score three points. But they didn’t get it; Matthew Stafford took the Lions down the field—thanks to some poor coverage and tackling on behalf of Green Bay—and found Lance Moore for a touchdown that appeared to have sealed the Packers’ fate. An extra point would put Green Bay down nine with just two minutes to play.
But Lions kicker Matt Prater missed the extra point (his second miss of the day) to keep it a one-possession game. Rodgers led another quick drive, eight plays and 73 yards in a minute and a half, and hooked up with tight end Justin Perillo to bring Green Bay within two. But the two-point conversion attempt to Davante Adams was broken up, and it appeared once again that the Packers’ chances had faded.
Detroit gave life to Green Bay one more time after wide receiver Calvin Johnson failed to recover the ensuing onside kick. The Packers got within field goal range and set Crosby up to be the hero of an improbable comeback. But the 52-yard kick had no chance from the beginning, and the Packers dropped their third straight game to fall to 6-3.
Rodgers finished the game with a whopping 61 pass attempts, but completed just 35 of them. He ended with 333 yards, his second straight game over 300, with about half of his yardage coming in the fourth quarter. He targeted Davante Adams 21 times, but completed just ten of those attempts. Both Adams and Randall Cobb had a number of big drops in the game that could potentially have changed the outcome.
One potential positive going forward was the emergence of Jared Abbrederis. The Packers’ receivers have struggled to stretch the field vertically, but Abbrederis averaged a team-high 14.3 yards per catch on four receptions and could be a much-needed weapon on the offense.
Meanwhile, the running game for Green Bay continued to struggle. After running back James Starks earned the starting role over Eddie Lacy, who was scratched with a groin injury, it became evident over the course of the game that Lacy’s ineffectiveness was not entirely his fault. Starks managed just 42 yards on 15 carries for an average of just 2.8 yards per carry.
Stafford completed 24/38 passes for 242 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception on a diving play made by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Johnson led the Detroit receiving corps with 81 yards on six catches, while the Lions’ rushing attack continued to flounder with just 45 yards on 26 carries.
Clinton-Dix led the Packers with 11 tackles, and rookie cornerback Damarious Randall continued to make big plays when given the chance. Going somewhat under the radar in light of the offense’s poor play is the inability of the Packers’ pass rush to get home. For the third straight week, Green Bay failed to record a sack.
After dropping to 6-3, the Packers no longer sit atop the NFC North. Minnesota defeated the Oakland Raiders to take sole possession of the division lead with a 7-2 record. Green Bay needs to figure out its issues quickly, as they travel to Minnesota next week to face the Vikings in a game that will likely have major implications on who emerges as the NFC North champions.——————
Sean Blashe is a Packers fan who grew up in Bears territory and is currently a journalism and history major at Marquette University. Sean is a writer with PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @SeanBlashe .