The Detroit Lions hosted their nearby rival the Green Bay Packers today, beating Green Bay 19-7. Detroit entered the game having lost 15 of their last 17 dates with the Packers, but opened the game with an aggressive emphasis on an inside running game that looked potent at times. While the running game was utilized more, the Lions started the game defensively in sync and style. An early fumble return for a touchdown by DB Don Carey gave the Lions a quick 7-0 lead and defensive momentum, helping the Lions to prevent the Packers from ever fully exploding. While the early turnover helped subside bad offensive production, it ultimately gave the Lions an advantage they haven’t had yet this season: defensive big play potential. All in all, the Lions defense did an excellent job containing one the NFL’s elite quarterbacks and helped compensate for an up and down Detroit offense.
Up and Down Offense
QB Matthew Stafford came in as the number one ranked quarterback in the NFL on third down but started slow and struggled at times in third down situations. The exterior pass rush of Green Bay LBs Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers looked reminiscent of Carolina’s pass rush from last week but Stafford showed significantly better pocket poise against the Packers. Significant movement was hard to come by early in the game and a Stafford’s penchant to throw interceptions didn’t help the offense. On the whole, Stafford finished going 22 for 34 with 246 yards (including two interceptions) and made significant improvement throwing over the middle down the stretch.
The Packers entered the game boasting the 3rd ranked pass defense in the league and throughout the afternoon prevented Stafford from throwing vertically. An early interception helped keep WRs Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate quiet, but also forced the Lions to focus on running the ball more. Stafford had the help of RB Reggie Bush at times which kept the Packers defense honest while Johnson finished with a modest day snagging six balls for 82 yards.
Detroit’s defense was by and large led by its defensive front, which shut down Green Bay RB Eddie Lacy in key short yardage situations. Lacy finished with less than 50 yards and struggled to get to the second level by virtue of strong performances by DTs George Johnson and Nick Fairley. A first half safety was a positive sign despite defensive injuries that piled on once again for Detroit with both Carey and LB Stephen Tulloch going down early. Tulloch started the game with another strong, gritty performance and a sack along the way, making his injury so much more significant for Detroit. Throughout the afternoon the Lions defense kept pace with Green Bay’s offense and prevented any of Green Bay’s weapons from exposing Detroit’s secondary; all good signs for a young defense in a tough division.
An inconsistent offense and an injured defense leaves a lot of work to do, but once again the Lions showed signs of great skill and toughness. An excellent finish against to the Packers makes for a great way to create divisional momentum and end Week 3. Stay tuned for more tomorrow.