Last week’s game against the Minnesota Vikings was what was considered to be a look at what the Green Bay Packers would bring to the table in the postseason this year. But their performance a week later against the Detroit Lions showed none of those characteristics, leading fans to wonder which version of the team will show up in the playoffs.
Throughout the vast majority of the season, their victories have not been pretty at all, with the team dubbing them as ‘ugly wins.’ Their win in Detroit to lock up a first-round bye was the ugliest of all but earned them the most.
In Minnesota, their victory came on the back of a stout defensive performance, coupled with a shining rushing attack that took the pressure off of the passing game.
Rushing for 184 yards was a big-time catalyst in their victory in the new Vikings stadium, with 154 of those coming on the back of Aaron Jones. But with the injury scare to Jones, combined with backup back Jamaal Williams having been ruled out for the game, it was difficult for them to get much moving on the ground to try and set the pace.
For a team that was fighting for the right to earn a week off going into the postseason, putting up three measly points while letting the Lions score 17 points and do whatever they wanted on offense was, in short, disgraceful. Fighting for the chance to be the NFC’s no. 1 seed, home-field advantage throughout the entirety of the playoffs, and a chance to heal up for a week, Green Bay came out sleepwalking in the first half.
Aaron Rodgers looked to be asleep at the wheel too, consistently missing on passes, leading his receivers too far towards the boundary and overthrowing his pass catchers. Obviously drops, like the huge one that Jimmy Graham had that led to stalling out their first drive, did not help his numbers, but his inconsistent throws were the main reason for the team’s offensive struggles.
Defensively, the unit that was so, so strong against Kirk Cousins was very inept to holding the Lions down, as they allowed a ton of chunk plays through the run game, including two that led to Detroit putting up three points inside the final 20 seconds of the first half. In comparison to the game the previous week when the Packers defense only allowed 10 total points and 139 total yards, Detroit scored 17 points and 269 yards through the first three quarters of the contest.
Thankfully, as had been consistent for the vast majority of the season, the Lions decided to blow a lead yet again, paving the way for Green Bay to lock up their rest for next week before facing off against the highest remaining seed that did not earn a bye with them.
Rodgers helped lead this struggling team back from the dead on Sunday, as he tossed touchdowns to Davante Adams in the third quarter and Allen Lazard in the fourth, with Mason Crosby field goals intermixed in between both of the touchdowns, including the game-winner as the clock crossed double zero.
Locked into a bye in the playoffs and holding a top-two seed in the NFC has got to feel good, especially for a team that struggled so much in 2018 and ushered in an expensive grouping of free agents and a first-time head coach. While anything short of a Super Bowl win would represent a ‘failed season’ to some, the fact that they have improved as much as they have already in Year One of Matt LaFleur has to represent a successful season in itself.뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23