NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 18 Game Recap: Detroit Lions 37, Green Bay Packers 30

Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown scores a touchdown during the first half of the Lions' 37-30 win over the Packers on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, at Ford Field.

With the Green Bay Packers already clinching the No. 1 seed, the only things to play for in this one were the Detroit Lions’ draft position and for the yellow and green to get a look at Jordan Love in real NFL action again. In the end, Dan Campbell’s squad rallied around to beat the Packers 37-30 to give them the No. 2 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

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DETROIT LIONS

Quarterback

Jared Goff played safe football and it worked out for the Lions. He completed only one throw over 15 yards downfield and saw over half of his 238 yards come after the catch. Goff didn’t produce a big-time throw, but he also didn’t give the Packers’ defense a chance to force a turnover with zero turnover-worthy plays. Thanks to that safe play and a 75-yard passing touchdown from wide receiver Tom Kennedy, the Lions had their second-most efficient passing offense of the year with +0.32 expected points added (EPA) per pass play generated.

Running Backs

With under a yard before contact per attempt as a group, the running back room struggled to get much rolling. D’Andre Swift did record two explosive runs of 10 or more yards on his seven carries, but Jamaal Williams — who got the most run of any of the Lions’ backs — didn’t have any. Williams finished with 43 yards, 37 of which came after contact.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

The rise of Amon-Ra St. Brown continued in Week 18. The fourth-round rookie once again was the team’s top pass-catcher and could end up with an elite PFF grade above 90.0 for the game. He generated five explosive receptions of 15 or more yards, marking the seventh time this year a rookie pass-catcher has done so. Almost all of his production came when he wasn't up against press coverage:

St. Brown vs. press coverage | Week 18
Press No Press
9 Routes 21
1/2 Receptions/Targets 8/9
1 Yards 108
0 1st Downs/TD 7
Offensive Line

Center Ryan McCollum — a 2022 UDFA — played considerable time for just the second time in his NFL career and was an issue. He allowed a sack, a hurry and lost another rep on his 22 pass-block reps.

Tackle Matt Nelson once again struggled as he allowed four pressures and lost two additional reps on 32 pass-block reps.

The Lions underwent an odd shuffle in the fourth quarter that kicked Jonah Jackson inside to center for the first time in his NFL career, replacing McCollum. Rookie Tommy Kraemer entered Jackson’s spot at left guard and didn’t lose any of his pass-block reps.

Defensive Line

Edge defender Julian Okwara didn’t have his best day against the run, but he was a part of a few high-level plays against the pass. That included a forced fumble, a passing stop, two sacks, a hit and a couple of other pass-rush wins.

Interior defensive lineman John Penisini only rushed the passer eight times, but he did manage a hit and hurry on those reps. He and Okwara were the only Lions to generate multiple non-cleanup pressures for the game.

Linebackers

Fourth-round rookie Derrick Barnes has had a series of poorly graded games in 2021, and that continued in Week 18. He had over double the amount of negatively graded plays as positively graded ones against the run, didn’t win a single one of his five pass-rush opportunities and allowed six catches on six targets for 152 yards and two touchdowns.

Secondary

Will Harris — who moved to outside corner from safety for the first time in his NFL career out of necessity a few weeks ago — allowed a couple of first downs but also forced a couple of passing stops. This should end up his highest-graded game in coverage since moving to the outside.

Opposite Harris was Ifeatu Melifonwu, who allowed 29 yards on 35 coverage snaps.

The Lions most notable performer was slot corner AJ Parker. He allowed only 21 yards on seven targets while forcing an incompletion and passing stop. This will end up the highest-graded game of the UDFA’s rookie season.

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Quarterback

Jordan Love came in for Aaron Rodgers in the second half of action, and the 2020 first-round pick performed poorly. His passing grade is below 60.0 on PFF’s first review of the game. Love didn’t produce a big-time throw and tossed a couple of turnover-worthy plays. Both of those turnover-worthy plays occurred on the five dropbacks Love spent under pressure. 

Running Backs

There were few negative runs from A.J. Dillon or Patrick Taylor Jr. Those two led Green Bay to +0.25 EPA per rush on running back carries and picked up positive EPA on 60% of their runs. Both of those are season-high metrics for the Packers.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Davante Adams was productive in the snaps he got in the first half with Rodgers as he teamed up for four first downs and generated 2.89 yards per route run. Allen Lazard, however, was the star of the half. He generated 4.41 yards per route run and caught two touchdowns. It was the first multi-touchdown game of Lazard’s career.

Offensive Line

All eyes were on star left tackle David Bakhtiari as he took his first snaps of the season due to injury. Considering that, he played fairly well. Bakhtiari didn’t allow pressure and lost just one of his 20 pass-block reps.

Yosh Nijman, Josh Myers and Royce Newman all allowed a hit on the quarterback while Dennis Kelly allowed a sack. Of that bunch, only Nijman allowed another pressure (a hurry).

Defensive Line

Edge defender Rashan Gary has been one of the most improved players in the NFL this season, and that growth continued to show against Detroit. He generated a team-leading four pressures and a 29.4% pass-rush win rate.

Preston Smith was the only other Packer to generate multiple pressures (two hurries) and a double-digit pass-rush win rate (17.6%).

Linebacker

With De’Vondre Campbell — PFF’s second-highest-graded off-ball linebacker entering Week 18 — out with an elbow injury, it was all Krys Barnes and Oren Burks at the position for Green Bay. Barnes missed a couple of tackles but made up for it with four defensive stops. Both players graded in the subpar range below 70.0 on first review.

Secondary

Cornerback Rasul Douglas didn’t allow a catch in coverage but did have one open target allowed that was off-target.

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