PLAYER OF THE GAME
Detroit linebacker DeAndre Levy is one of the NFL’s most underrated linebackers. He had a superb game, especially after his running-mate, Stephon Tulloch, exited with an injury after his first-quarter sack.
Levy finished with 10 tackles, including the second-quarter safety that will be referenced next, plus broke up two passes. It was a big-time game considering he was the lone quality player remaining in the back end of the Lions’ depleted defense.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Packers coach Mike McCarthy called this the game’s turning point.
With the game tied at 7, Davon House made a brilliant interception on a deep pass intended for Calvin Johnson. House tumbled to the turf at the 1-yard line. While his momentum took him into the end zone, he was ruled down at the 1.
“If a defender intercepts a pass or catches a kick and his own momentum takes him into the end zone, then there is a momentum spot created in the field of play,” former NFL official Mike Pereira wrote on FoxSports.com. “So instead of a safety, which is what you’d normally have if you took the ball into your own end zone, you get the ball at the intercepting spot.”
Considering it was third-and-9 from the Packers’ 49, House would have been better off just knocking down the pass. Of course, that would call for a player to know exactly where he is on the field while chasing a ball thrown for the game’s premier receiver. In other words, that would be totally unrealistic.
"I thought I was in the end zone and then I was going to run, and then Calvin was there so I just went to the ground because a touchback would’ve been great," House said. "I noticed they were challenging the call and I was hoping it would be a touchback."
Thus, the Packers were stuck at their 1-yard line. On the first play, Eddie Lacy was stuffed in the backfield for a safety. It all started when rookie tight end Richard Rodgers was blown into the backfield by Lions defensive end Jason Jones. Right guard T.J. Lang appeared to be pulling to the right but had nowhere to go because of the pileup created by Jones. The delay allowed Levy to shoot through the gap left by the pulling Lang and swallow up Lacy about 2 yards in the end zone.
“It was a total momentum swing back to Detroit,” McCarthy said. “That’s a huge play for them. A big interception by Davon. Just the way it came down, definitely a big play in the game.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL
Unless you’re either really good or really bad, this is how the NFL works. You play poorly one week. You play good the next week. You stumble the week after that.
The Packers hung tough with Seattle before getting blown out in Week 1, then got blown out for 20-plus minutes before rallying past the Jets. In a key divisional showdown against the Lions, the Packers were simply outmatched. The defense hung tough for most of the game but the offense was simply no match for the Lions. That was a shocker given the injury-riddled mess that is the Lions’ secondary.
Going into this stretch of back-to-back division road games against Detroit and Chicago, you figured the Packers would have to split. That makes Sunday’s game at Soldier Field a must-win. At least the Packers have been down this road before, having started 1-2 the past two seasons but recovering to win the NFC North both times.
2: The Packers were plus-2 in turnovers. During coach Mike McCarthy’s tenure, the Packers were 31-3 when at least plus-2 in turnovers.
3: The Packers forced three turnovers. Under defensive coordinator Dom Capers, the Packers were 31-7 when getting at least three takeaways.
5: Possessions in which Green Bay’s offense got zero or one first down in its nine possessions.
5: Completions (seven targets) to Jordy Nelson for 59 yards. Last week, he caught nine passes (16 targets) for 209 yards.
6: Completions (13 targets) to the Packers’ other wide receivers for 51 yards.
8: Consecutive third-down conversions allowed by Green Bay’s defense in the second half. In fact, the Lions were 8-of-8 until Matthew Stafford took a knee on third down to end the game.
8: Running plays that gained 1 yard (one play), no yards (three plays) or lost yardage (four plays) out of 22 total runs.
18: Longest play of the day by the Packers’ offense. The Packers, one of the league’s premier big-play attacks, hadn’t gone without a 20-yard gain (passing or rushing) since Nov. 9, 2008, at Minnesota. It also was the Packers’ shortest “long” gain in a game since Oct. 5, 1998, against Minnesota (17 yards).
23: More plays run by the Lions than the Packers, a combination of Detroit’s third-down success in the second half and Green Bay’s inability to sustain a drive.
36: Rushing yards by Eddie Lacy on 11 attempts, a 3.3-yard average.
82: Receiving yards by Detroit’s Calvin Johnson. He had topped 100 yards in 22 of the previous 35 games. Against the Packers, his last four games were 101, 118, 143 and 244 yards.
113: Rushing yards by Lacy in three games. He had three games of at least that many yards last season.
162: Passing yards by Rodgers. That’s his second-lowest total in a game he started and finished; he threw for 142 yards the aforementioned 2008 game at Minnesota.
325: Carries between Lacy’s fumble at San Francisco in Week 1 of 2013 and his first-carry fumble against the Lions.
"It wasn’t good ball security on my behalf, I don’t know if it was knocked out or if I had it too low and ran into the back of my linemen. But definitely a turnover is something we don’t need," Lacy said.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.