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Lions defense breaks Aaron Rodgers slump, can’t climb back in 34-27 loss

Aaron Rodgers has been marred by a 14 game slump dating back to last year. A visit from proverbial whipping boys, the Detroit Lions, was just what the doctor ordered. Rodgers threw for 4 touchdowns on 15 of 24 passing for 205 yards and no turnovers.

The Lions got off to a brutal start, allowing the Packers to score on every first half drive sans the last drive of the half when Green Bay received the ball with 32 seconds to go. The Lions didn’t force a single Green Bay punt until the 4th quarter.

The story of the game was the Lions defensive inability to stop the Packers from scoring at will in the first half. Detroit found themselves in an early 28 point deficit and it was just too big of a hole to climb out of. Detroit outgained Green Bay 418 yards to 324 and converted 22 first downs to the Packers 17. They even won the time of possession battle 35:07 to 24:53 but the only relevant stat from this game is the 34-27 final score.

Despite the loss, quarterback Matthew Stafford had another strong game completing 28 of his 41 passes for 385 yards and 3 touchdowns and an interception. The Packers dropped a couple potential interceptions but made up for it by stripping a sure Eric Ebron catch for a ruled interception.

To say Marvin Jones had a career day would be an understatement as the Lions new number one wideout hauled in 6 catches for 205 (not a typo) yards and 2 touchdowns. Jones and Stafford were on the same page all day, often catching the Packers defense out of position.

Eddie Lacy and Jordy Nelson did their best to help the Packers offense look more like the potent killer fans remember. Lacy turned 17 carries into 103 yards and Nelson had 2 touchdowns on 6 receptions for 101 yards.

The Game Turned When

It’d be lazy if not factual to say this game turned when DeAndre Levy and Ezekiel Ansah were ruled out with injuries. Without them in the lineup, the Packers abused the Lions battered defense, running up 31 first half points.

I could also say the game turned when Green Bay took a seemingly insurmountable 28 point lead in the second quarter but again, that would be lazy because Detroit rallied and came within 7 points with 3:34 to go in the 4th quarter.

This game turned when the Teryl Austin and the Lions defense failed to make enough adjustments. The Lions couldn’t do anything to consistently bottle up Eddie Lacy and despite Aaron Rodgers making numerous situation-changing plays with his legs, Detroit never bothered to put a spy on him. The Lions slowly crawled back in the game on the arm of Matthew Stafford but the defense couldn’t do enough to slow the Packers when it mattered and the result is all too familiar to Lions fans.

A Look Ahead

Forgetting about the how and why for a moment, the Lions are 1-2 with a must win game coming up in Chicago next week. It’s a game Detroit should win without trouble, though counting on the Lions for anything of the sort is a recipe for disaster. Chicago will quite possibly be 0-3 entering the contest and has looked lifeless on both sides of the ball thus far.

Without Jay Cutler, Chicago should be an opportunity for Teryl Austin and his defense to regroup a little bit and hopefully get healthy as the Lions enter a stretch of very winnable games. Matthew Stafford and the offense have been doing their part but if this team has a real shot at squeaking into the playoffs, it will need major defensive improvement.

I’ll close with some Jim Caldwell praise. Coach actually went for it on fourth down at the goal line while down by 21 points in the third quarter. PROGRESS!

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