The demise of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers’ offense apparently was greatly exaggerated.
Rodgers threw four touchdown passes in the first half to stake the Packers to a 31-10 halftime lead. That was enough to beat the Detroit Lions 34-27 on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
The Packers (2-1) needed every bit of an early 28-point lead because Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford lit up a depleted defense. Stafford hit Marvin Jones or a 35-yard touchdown with 3:34 remaining to bring the Lions (1-2) within 34-27.
Green Bay, however, hung on for the win. On third-and-8 with 3:22 remaining, Rodgers had all day against a four-man rush before finally taking off to his left and gaining 11 yards. Eddie Lacy rumbled for another first down at the two-minute warning, ruining the Lions’ comeback hopes.
Lacy finished with 103 yards.
While Rodgers finished the day with only 205 passing yards, the first-half numbers were startling. Through the first two weeks, Green Bay ranked 29th with 278.5 yards per game and 31st with 189.5 passing yards per game, and Rodgers ranked 22nd with a passer rating of 82.5. In the first half against the Lions, the Packers had 211 total yards and 170 passing yards, and Rodgers completed 12-of-18 passes for 174 yards and the four scores for a rating of 137.5. Star receiver Jordy Nelson, who had 11 catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns in his first games back after missing 2015 with a knee injury, had six catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
After coming under fire following a 17-14 loss last week at Minnesota, the Packers were on fire to start the game. A 33-yard completion to Randall Cobb set up Davante Adams’ 14-yard touchdown. After a Detroit field goal, Nelson’s 47-yard catch-and-run set up an 8-yard score for Nelson to make it 14-3. On Green Bay’s next drive, a 66-yard pass-interference penalty against Nevin Lawson preceded Rodgers’ 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Richard Rodgers. Just before halftime, Rodgers hit Nelson for another touchdown, a 17-yarder against standout cornerback Darius Slay to make it 31-3.
Stafford hit Jones for a 73-yard touchdown with 32 seconds left in the half, then clawed back in the game with a 77-yard scoring drive to open the third quarter. Stafford went 6-for-6, including a 2-yard touchdown to Anquan Boldin on fourth-and-goal to cut the margin to 31-17.
The Packers finally put the brakes on, though, by wearing out Detroit’s first-round pick, left tackle Taylor Decker. With the Lions trailing 34-17 but on the move, Packers linebacker Nick Perry drew a hold against Decker and then beat Decker for a sack to force a field goal to make it 34-20. On Green Bay’s next possession, linebacker Kyler Fackrell beat Decker for a sack on first down and Perry chased down Stafford for a sack on third down.
However, Stafford’s 35-yard touchdown to Jones made it a one-score game, and gave Stafford 385 yards and three touchdowns and Jones 205 yards and two scores on six receptions. The Lions never got another chance, though, en route to their second consecutive loss.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.