Detroit Turns Tables on Rodgers

After a career of beating up on the Lions, the Lions' defense beat up on the Packers' offense. It was the lowest scoring output of any game started (and finished) by the highest-scoring quarterback in NFL history and just the seventh of less than 16 points.

Entering Sunday’s game, Aaron Rodgers had started 89 games as the Green Bay Packers’ quarterback. Take first-half injuries against Detroit in 2010 and Chicago in 2013 out of the equation, and that’s 87 games.

Rodgers had guided the Packers to less than 10 points just once in those injury-free starts – a 9-0 win at the Jets in 2010 – and less than 16 points only six times. He entered Sunday’s game at Detroit as the highest-scoring quarterback in NFL history, with 28.1 points per start.

On Sunday, however, the Lions dominated a quarterback who had dominated them throughout his career.

In nine previous games that Rodgers started and finished vs. Detroit, he had led the Packers to an average of 29.7 points with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions. The Packers won all of those games, six times by margins of at least 10 points. As the Lions rolled to a 19-7 win on Sunday, he completed 16-of-27 passes for 162 yards and one touchdown. His longest completion went for just 18 yards.

“Well, they’ve got a good defense. You’ve got to give them credit,” Rodgers said. “Offensively, we didn’t make enough good adjustments to score more points. I had Jordy there for a touchdown on the last drive, threw it behind him. That would’ve been double-digits there. But as well as our defense played today, we scored seven and we gave up nine points. Our defense did a good job. They hold them to 10 points on defense, we should win that game.”

There are a multitude of things wrong with Green Bay’s offense. Rodgers, especially to his standards, has not been accurate. Nelson beat double coverage from linebacker DeAndre Levy and safety Glover Quin but Rodgers' pass to the end zone was well behind Nelson. A promising drive to start the third quarter died when Rodgers, rolling to his right, threw too high to Randall Cobb, who had broken open along the sideline. Later in the third quarter, a third-and-13 pass to Jarrett Boykin fell about a yard short of the target.

The receivers didn’t do him a ton of favors, with a handful of drops. Cobb couldn’t come up with a deep ball on the second drive of the game and a quick slant on the second drive of the third quarter. Both catches would have been difficult but are plays that need to be made by a position group that holds itself in high regard. Boykin couldn’t come up a tough back-shoulder grab in the first quarter and had a bad drop on a first-down play midway through the second quarter. James Starks couldn’t catch a checkdown late in the first quarter.

The running game, so good last season, hasn’t gotten going in three games this season. The protection was fine, from a statistical perspective, with Rodgers being sacked twice and hit on only one other occasion, but he faced steady pressure from the Lions’ front four.

Added together, and the Packers’ offense looks nothing like the high-powered model that Rodgers has driven since 2008.

In fact, the 162 yards were his fewest in a game started and finished. He threw for 142 yards at Minnesota on Nov. 9, 2008. It's just his third game of less than 170 yards.

“We haven’t been as sharp offensively,” Rodgers said. “I haven’t been as sharp maybe [compared to] the standard I’ve set. We’ve all got to do better. We’ve got to adjust better, we’ve got to throw it better, we’ve got to catch better, we’ve got to score points.”

After the game, coach Mike McCarthy lamented not putting “the ball completely” in Rodgers’ hands earlier. Given the state of the passing game, it’s hard to see how that would have changed Sunday’s outcome.

“When you keep Aaron Rodgers out of the end zone that numbers of times with the possession that he had, it was quite a feat,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “Our defensie did a great jof in terms of making them go the distance. They didn’t let them have anything easy, kept the ball in front of them, even despite the fact that we were minus-two in the turnover battle.”

Points in games started and finished by Rodgers

Year0-1516-2021-2728-3435-plus
200804642
200901753
201033152
201110428
201220842
201301151
201411010
Total710272618


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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.


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