The Key Player, Moment, Number

We take a closer look at the Packers' 27-15 victory over the Lions on Thanksgiving at Ford Field. Who was the player of the game? What was the key moment?

DETROIT – A closer look at the Green Bay Packers' 27-15 victory over the Detroit Lions on Thursday at Ford Field:

The player: Tramon Williams rose to the occasion against 6-foot-5 Calvin Johnson, who entered the game ranked first in the NFL in receiving touchdowns, third in yards and fourth in receptions. He finished with four receptions for 49 yards and a meaningless touchdown in the final moments. Williams, on the other hand, broke up a jump ball in the end zone and almost had a pick-six in the second quarter.

"I'm thinking once they cross midfield, they're ready to take a shot to their guy," Williams said. "At that point, I kind of had a feeling that's what they were going to do, and that's what they did. We had just scored, so they were trying to get a ball into the end zone, too. I had a feeling they were going to take shots. They usually take shots when they cross midfield."

Without Johnson contributing any big plays – he entered the day ranked second in 25-plus-yard receptions – the Lions were forced to methodically drive the ball up and down the field but were unable to do so.

The moment: What else besides Ndamukong Suh's ill-advised stomp on backup guard Evan Dietrich-Smith's leg? If not for the penalty and automatic first down, the Packers would have had to settle for a chip-shot field goal and a 10-0 lead. Instead, John Kuhn's 1-yard touchdown run made it 14-0, and the Lions were left without the best defensive lineman in the game.

The number: 8.2 – In the first half, the Packers' prolific offense was stopped cold by the Lions' powerful defense. Green Bay managed just 86 yards on 20 plays – merely 4.3 yards per play. In the second half, the Packers rang up 263 yards on 32 plays – a robust 8.2 yards per play. No wonder they scored 20 points and tallied 11 first downs in the second half.

The key: Ryan Pickett was left speechless. Aside from the New Orleans game on opening night, why has the Packers' defense played so well against its toughest opponents (Atlanta and Detroit) while struggling so much against middle-of-the-road teams like last week's game against Tampa Bay? It's almost as if the defense is picking its spots to dominate.

"I don't know, man," he said. "That's tough to explain. When our backs are against the wall, the defense just finds a way to shut people down and make big plays. I wish I could put my finger on it."

Sure, Detroit piled up 409 total yards, which won't do a thing to help Green Bay's 31st-ranked defense, but make no mistake that the best unit on the field on Thursday was Dom Capers' defense. And maybe the game inside the game is this: After getting destroyed by tight ends Kellen Winslow and Antonio Gates in recent games, all three of the Packers' interceptions came on passes directed to standout tight end Brandon Pettigrew.

Packers said: "Probably third-down conversions. We went a little more under center in the second half and had some success, at least just kind of keeping those drives going, putting us in third-and-manageable situations, and we converted those better in the second half," QB Aaron Rodgers, on the difference between the first and second halves Lions said: "I felt like we match up – I still do feel like we match up really well against those guys. We didn't play our best. We didn't get a bunch of breaks today. … We got penalized early on in the game. We were moving the football a couples times and that hurt us. And the second half, just didn't make enough plays to win the game. But we match up well with those guys." – QB Matthew Stafford

Extra points: At 11-0, the Packers hold a commanding lead over Chicago (7-3) and Detroit (7-4) in the NFC North. … The Lions have lost eight straight on Thanksgiving, with Thursday's 12-point margin the second "closest" in the stretch. In 2007, the Packers won 37-26 for "just" an 11-point win. … Rodgers tied Steve Young's NFL record with his 11th game with a passer rating of at least 110. Rodgers' numbers on Thursday: 22-of-32 for 307 yards with two touchdowns and a rating of 120.2. … Rodgers threw at least two touchdown passes for the 11th consecutive game, extending his franchise record. The NFL record for most such games to start a season was set by Peyton Manning, with 13 in 2004. … The Packers are the 11th team in the Super Bowl era to start the season 11-0. Of the previous 10 teams, five wound up winning the Super Bowl and three others got to the big game.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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