Report Card: Packers-Lions

The grades are in, and they're exactly what you'd expect from a horrible 7-3 loss at woeful Detroit. The passing game was bad, regardless of the quarterback, and the rushing offense and rushing defense were even worse.

PASSING OFFENSE: D — The lethargic Packers had to count on sparingly used backup quarterback Matt Flynn to deliver a victory after Aaron Rodgers was knocked out with a concussion late in the first half. Flynn, though, overthrew a diving Greg Jennings in the end zone on a 31-yard throw on fourth-and-1 with less than a minute to play. Flynn's most extensive action in his three-year career was more bad than good (15-of-26 accuracy), though he did throw for 177 yards and led the offense on one scoring drive. He also misfired on a pass to Donald Driver over the middle on the play preceding the potential game-winner to Jennings. Flynn's most egregious mistake came when he failed to see linebacker DeAndre Levy drop underneath and pick off a would-be 9-yard touchdown to Driver in the third quarter with the Packers up 3-0. Green Bay's first two turnovers occurred with Rodgers (7-of-11, 46 yards, career-worst 34.7 passer rating) in the game. The first was a fumble by rookie tight end Andrew Quarless (game-high five catches for 62 yards) on the Packers' first series. Later, an open Jennings (four catches for 52 yards) had an inexcusable drop on a deep ball down the middle that could have been a 77-yard touchdown, but he deflected it into the hands of safety Amari Spievey. Breakdowns on the offensive line contributed to two sacks apiece for Rodgers and Flynn.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D-minus — Rodgers suffered his head injury at the end of an 18-yard scramble when he chose to not slide after picking up the first down on a second-and-5 play. His 25 yards and 10 from Flynn, who converted a third-and-10 play with a 12-yard keeper, accounted for more than half of Green Bay's anemic 66 rushing yards. The Packers averaged just 3.3 yards per carry, but the halfback trio of Brandon Jackson, James Starks and Dimitri Nance was worse with an aggregate 31 yards in 15 attempts. Jackson had the longest run among the bunch, 9 yards, and finished with only 19 yards in seven carries. Starks' encore after his auspicious pro debut the previous week fizzed with six rushes for 8 yards. The line, which rolled through three left guards, was manhandled by Detroit's physical and relentless front.

PASS DEFENSE: B — Lions third-stringer Drew Stanton was erratic throwing the football, going just 10-of-22 for 117 yards and compiling an awful passer rating of 39.4, thanks in part to two first-half interceptions. Cornerback Tramon Williams had an easy pick in the end zone on an ill-advised deep ball, and safety Charlie Peprah received a gift on a bad overthrow along the sideline. Yet, Stanton came through with a couple clutch throws on third down and then capped the decisive 12-play, 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter with a screen pass that tight end Will Heller turned into a 13-yard touchdown. Linebacker Desmond Bishop and safety Nick Collins had bad pursuit on the game-winner. The Packers held Calvin Johnson, who had a co-game-high eight targets, to only one reception, but it was a big one of 44 yards at the expense of cornerback Charles Woodson. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew was targeted just three times and had a meager two catches for 14 yards.


Pickett pursues Best.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
RUSH DEFENSE: D — Green Bay's front seven was repeatedly pushed around and on their heels as the Lions masterfully ran the football with seven different players and gashed the Packers for 190 yards. That nearly eclipsed the season-high 196 yards surrendered by Green Bay in the Week 7 win over the Minnesota Vikings. The Packers did an adequate job against the running-back tandem of Maurice Morris and Jahvid Best, who had a combined 89 yards in 24 carries. The difference makers turned out to be an elusive Stanton (four rushes for 44 yards, long of 17) and diminutive receiver Stefan Logan (five rushes for 30 yards, long of 11). Johnson also picked up 13 yards on a reverse. Poor tackling also did in the Packers.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus — First-year punter Tim Masthay had a career-best day with eight punts for 50.5 yards (net of 43.4) and a long of 62. Masthay, though, spoiled a strong start with two poor hits late in the game. The coverage units held the dynamic Logan in check for most of the game on kickoff (27.5 average) and punt (9.3 average) returns, but he ran back one kickoff for 35 yards. Williams had just two punt returns but made the most of them with an average of 14 yards, including a long of 16. A missed block by Brett Swain resulted in only a 16-yard kickoff return out of the end zone by Sam Shields following the Lions' go-ahead touchdown. Mason Crosby accounted for Green Bay's fewest points of the season with a 42-yard field goal.

COACHING: F — Head coach Mike McCarthy and staff may have cost the Packers postseason football by not having the team ready to play against an inferior opponent and, to make matters worse, taking a loss against a 2-10 division opponent that Green Bay couldn't afford to trip up against in the final month of the season. Sunday's performance by the Packers was abominable, right down to McCarthy's play call to have the inexperienced Flynn try to throw a long touch pass to Jennings in the end zone on fourth-and-1 when Green Bay had a minute of game clock and two timeouts left. Although it's debatable whether he would have prevailed, McCarthy should have heeded the on-field plea of Jennings and thrown the red flag to challenge a diving catch by the receiver in the end zone that was ruled incomplete on third down — the Packers subsequently settled for a field goal for their lone points.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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