There was no glorious Detroit Lions comeback this week at Lambeau Field. The game was close for a while, and the Lions actually took the lead into the half, but turnovers cost Detroit in the second half, allowing the Green Bay Packers to pull away and build a lead that culminated in a 35-17 victory to move to 1-1 on the season.
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Jared Goff threw the ball reasonably well, which caused Green Bay some problems, but a pair of fumbles will torpedo his grade. He completed 26 of 36 passes for 246 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also finished with two big-time throws, equaling Aaron Rodgers, but a fumbled snap and then a pass that just slipped out of his hand as he cocked to throw were killer plays for the Lions offense.
D’Andre Swift made a highlight-reel play where he jumped over Packers cornerback Kevin King, but he finished with just eight carries for 37 yards on the ground while adding four catches for 41 yards as a receiver. Jamaal Williams split the workload, carrying the ball seven times for 25 yards, but Goff actually led the team in rushing yards between scrambles and read-option plays.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
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Quintez Cephus made an early splash, hitting Kevin King with a double move up the sideline for a big play. He caught four of seven targets for 63 yards and a touchdown. Tight end T.J. Hockenson, however, was the biggest factor in the Lions' passing game, catching eight of the nine passes thrown his way for 66 yards and a score. Hockenson moved the chains four times, twice as many as any other Lions receiver.
Penei Sewell reinforced his Week 1 performance at left tackle with another strong showing. He allowed just two total pressures from 39 pass-blocking snaps (pending review), and neither was worse than a hurry. Sewell’s run blocking was hit or miss. He had some imposing early blocks on the move and then some losses as the game wore on, but he has looked impressive at left tackle after struggling badly on the right side throughout the preseason.
The Packers largely controlled Detroit’s defensive line in this game, and rookies Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike combined to play just 36 total snaps — fewer than any of the starters along the defensive front. Romeo Okwara led the team with five total pressures (pending review), but they were typically late pressures or clean-up plays — not decisive, clean wins.
Alex Anzalone and Jamie Collins Sr. accounted for all but three snaps among the Lions linebackers, and the pair struggled to deal with Green Bay’s motion and movement from running backs out of the backfield. They were exploited on multiple occasions in one-on-one matchups, and each accounted for one touchdown in coverage.
Despite playing fewer snaps, Rodgers targeted the least experienced members of the Lions secondary the most. Rookie Ifeatu Melifonwu only played 15 snaps in coverage but still saw the ball come his way four times, allowing three catches for 74 yards.
4 TD, 0 INT again tonight… https://t.co/RiSNiNDaPk
— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) September 21, 2021
Every time Aaron Rodgers struggles in one game, he rebounds with a monster statistical performance in the next, and this game was no different. His stats may be inflated, as one of his four touchdowns was a tap “pass” to his running back on jet motion, but Rodgers had a couple of exceptional big-time throws and finished the game with 9.4 yards per attempt.
Aaron Jones was one of the biggest threats in the game. He gained 67 yards and a touchdown from 17 carries on the ground but also caught all six of the passes thrown his way — even if ‘thrown’ may be stretching the definition on certain plays — for 48 yards and three more scores. Jones gained 58 yards after the catch and generated 2.8 yards per route run.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Davante Adams is still the top dog in Green Bay and one of the game’s best receivers. He caught eight of nine targets for 121 yards, generating 3.9 yards per route run. Arguably his best play, however, came when he prevented the only turnover-worthy play of Rodgers’ day from resulting in an interception, as he was able to slap down a pass left badly behind him to prevent the defensive back from securing the pick.
Green Bay’s offensive line has had to deal with a lot of turnover, but it remains an excellent pass-blocking unit, particularly with Rodgers able to control the pocket so well. Two of the starting five allowed no pressure at all, and the group surrendered just six total pressures (pending review).
With no Za’Darius Smith in this game, it was an opportunity for others to step up and fill that void, but no one was able to consistently do so. Rather, the Packers were able to generate pressure as a collective, as four different players recorded multiple pressures without any recording more than four. Rashan Gary led the team in pressure (pending review), winning on 19.2% of his pass-rush reps.
De’Vondre Campbell played 56 snaps on defense for Green Bay, more than double the rest of their linebackers combined. The Packers led the league in dime (six defensive backs) personnel rate last season but didn’t run a single snap of it this preseason. Against Detroit, they broke it out again, running with six defensive backs on 33.9% of their snaps, which left Campbell to man the middle of the field. He made 10 tackles and five defensive stops.
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First-round pick Eric Stokes again looked impressive and would be pushing to start over King if the team wasn’t using them both extensively already. Stokes was targeted four times, allowing just one five-yard catch — a touchdown that came on a busted coverage in the end zone due to a miscommunication with King.