For the second week in a row the Green Bay Packers used a strong second half to secure a victory, this time it was against the Detroit Lions.
It was a snowy night in Lambeau Field, but the adverse weather conditions didn’t slow down the Lions at first. After the opening drive, the Lions jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead after a 12 play, 80-yard drive.
With a chance to even the score, the Packers began driving the ball but lost it when Rodgers was hit from behind and fumbled, which was recovered by the Lions. The Lions then scored on another long drive, this time 11 plays, 79-yards.
Green Bay answered with a drive that ended in a field goal by Mason Crosby, which got a big reaction from the crowd. The Packers would need a defensive play to slow down the Lions, who at that point had moved the ball anyway they wanted too.
On the next drive, Matthew Stafford fumbled the ball on what looked to be a quick screen pass. The ball looked to just slip right out of Stafford’s hands, but the ball was picked up by Mike Daniels, who returned it all the way for a touchdown and resulted in a “big guy” Lambeau Leap, always a fan favorite.
The first half ended with the Lions up 14-10 and really looking like the better team. They controlled the flow of the game and the time of possession, keeping the Packers offense off the field. If it wasn’t for the fumble for touchdown and the interception Stafford threw the drive after, the Lions could have been up by much more.
The second half started off great for the Packers who took only eight plays to find the end zone, with a drive ending in a 27-yard run by Aaron Rodgers. The Lions ended their next drive with a field goal that tied the game up and from there, both teams missed 50+ yard field goals, Crosby’s wide left and Detroit’s Jason Hanson’s kick was just short.
In the fourth, the Packers opened the scoring with a touchdown that featured heavy use of the running game and every running back the Packers had available. All three were in on the drive; Alex Green carried most of the load, with Ryan Grant adding a big run and then Dujuan Harris finishing off the drive with a 14-yard run.
Late in the fourth quarter, Crosby nailed a 41-yard field goal, which put the game away. In a last minute comeback effort, the Lions added a field goal of their own, making the final score Packers 27, Lions 20.
The Packers really looked solid, especially in the second half. While the defense did give up those two scores, it was their doing that gave the Packers their first touchdown. But the defense really shined in the second half, only giving up six points to the Lions.
Green Bay also looked to get a real solid running game going. The three running backs totaled 113 yards on 21 combined carries. Dujuan Harris looks promising as a running back and the Packers could be using him a lot more. Alex Green looked solid, averaging 5.3 yards per rush on 13 carries, and Ryan Grant, who recently joined the team, had only one rush for 13 yards but it was during the key drive in the fourth quarter that gave the Packers the lead.
Rodgers played solidly but didn’t put up any crazy numbers. He didn’t throw a touchdown but did rush for one and accommodated for 173 total yards.
It was not the prettiest game, but the Packers got a win, and at least in the second half really looked like a complete team. They ran the ball with some real success and the defense shut down the Lions. Lions’ star receiver Calvin Johnson never found the end zone. Rodgers made plays when he needed to, but the pressure wasn’t all on him, which is great.
The Packers now take a one game lead in the division and if they win against the Bears next week, they will secure the division title. It has been a long, up and down season but it looks like the Packers are all starting to come together to make that late season run.
Five Things We Learned From This Game
The Packers have the running game coming together – The three backs that played today did well. Hopefully that success will continue, because if the Packers are able to get a solid running game going, the rest of the NFC better look out.
Sam Shields is fully back – Sam Shields finally was back from injury and impacted the game with a big interception in the second quarter. The return of Sam Shields is a great boost to the depleted defensive unit.
The defense could get even better – The Packers defense has played very well, even with all the injuries, but it could get better and soon. There is a possibility that both Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson can return next week, which will make this unit even more dangerous.
We may have seen Mike Daniels’ career moment – Mike Daniels’ fumble recovery for a touchdown could easily be the guy’s career moment and it was an impressive one. Nobody came close to catching him after he picked up that fumble; the big guy has some wheels. Also his Lambeau Leap wasn’t that bad. A+ performance.
Mason Crosby is making strides – Crosby went two of three today but his only miss was a 50+ yarder in the snowy and windy conditions. He hit a nice 49-yard field goal early in the game and sealed the win with a 41-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter. Just like the running game, the Packers will need Crosby so seeing him make field goals, and long ones at that, is really reassuring.