Maybe these Detroit Lions, with Jim Schwartz as coach at Martin Mayhew pulling the personnel strings, will blossom into a real NFL franchise at some point.
But with franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford and franchise receiver Calvin Johnson on the bench with knee injuries and several other substandard starters injured and replaced by substandard reserves, the Lions were their usual Green Bay road kill.
With Aaron Rodgers dissecting the Lions' horrendous secondary and with the Lions' offense hamstrung by inept quarterbacks Daunte Culpepper and Drew Stanton, the Packers cruised to a 26-0 thrashing of Detroit on Sunday. The Packers have beaten the Lions 19 consecutive times in Wisconsin, including 18 straight in the regular season.
Green Bay scored touchdowns on its first two possessions, and the game was effectively over with 7:20 remaining in the first quarter. Getting a free play with the Lions offsides, Rodgers pump-faked and James Jones was wide open for a 47-yard touchdown. Cullen Jenkins then intercepted a screen pass, setting up the offense at Detroit's 17. Moments later, fullback John Kuhn faked a block and got himself open in the flat for an easy 1-yard touchdown.
Meanwhile, Detroit's offense posed no threat to the Packers, not without Stafford and the superstar Johnson. It took the Lions more than 42 minutes to finally pass 100 yards of offense.
Still, even with the lopsided score, there was no reason to assume the problems from the first quarter of the season had been cured by the bye week. Rodgers was sacked five times and the Packers were penalized 13 times for 130 yards. Plus, left tackle Chad Clifton appeared to re-injure his ankle late in the third quarter, when Rodgers was sacked and lost a fumble deep in Lions territory.
Along with Jenkins, Al Harris and Atari Bigby had interceptions, Aaron Kampman got his second sack of the season and Donald Driver broke the franchise record for receptions and now has 601 for his career.
On third-and-6 from the Detroit 47 on the game's opening drive, Aaron Rodgers drew the Lions' Copeland Bryan offsides. Given a free play, Rodgers threw deep to James Jones, who got well behind what looked like a blown coverage by cornerback Kevin Hobbs. Rodgers hit a wide-open Jones, who juked ex-Packers safety Marquand Manuel and easily scored.
"It was a regular go route, the corner stepped up," Jones said. "I got behind him, and A-Rod was able to throw it over the top."
You could go with Aaron Rodgers (358 yards, two touchdowns) or Clay Matthews III (five tackles, two sacks, three tackles for losses, two quarterback hits) but it has to be Donald Driver. Driver broke a tie with Sterling Sharpe for most catches in franchise history, ran his total to 601 with seven receptions for 107 yards and made a stunning one-handed catch.
40:48: The Packers were the definition of ball control, holding the ball for a 2-to-1 ratio. The Packers punted only once, didn't have a single three-and-out series and converted 6-of-12 third downs compared to 0-for-10 for Detroit.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers: "The defense did a great job. Any time you put a goose egg on the board, you expect to win. We obviously missed some opportunities in the red zone. Mason (Crosby) kicked the ball great – he had four field goals – but obviously we like to put those in the end zone. We had a nice two-minute (drive) there at the end of the first half. We couldn't get a touchdown out of that. We fumbled inside the 5, I believe. Took points off the board. It's good to get back on the winning track and hopefully we'll be able to parlay this into some momentum going into an important quarter of our season."
The other things you need to know
— For the first time all season, Aaron Kampman had his hand on the ground during pass-rushing situations. Kampman figured it was about seven snaps, including one in which he got a sack.
— Late in the third quarter, Chad Clifton re-injured the ankle that had kept him out of the previous two-and-a-half games. McCarthy said he'd know about Clifton on Monday. Jordy Nelson suffered a knee bruise on a kick return. X-rays were negative. First-round pick B.J. Raji also tweaked the ankle that held him out early in the season. Scott Wells started at center in place of Jason Spitz (back). Rookie T.J. Lang replaced Clifton.
"We're not very healthy up front right now," McCarthy said. "We've got to keep working and working our way through the adjustments you've got to make. Injuries are a part of the game."
— With Nelson out, Tramon Williams had a 45-yard punt return. That was his only chance, though. Charles Woodson replaced him for the rest of the game because of difficult winds.
— Nelson returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown but rookie Evan Dietrich-Smith was flagged for holding. "I won't know until I see the tape," special-teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said. "If it is on 62 (Dietrich-Smith), I don't know. It's really discouraging, because everybody performed so well and we got a touchdown out of the thing and it doesn't count. I hate that."
— This was the Packers' first shutout since a 34-0 thumping of Minnesota on Nov. 11, 2007, at Lambeau Field.
— The Packers' 18-game regular-season home winning streak over Detroit matches Washington's home roll over Detroit for longest current streak in the NFL.
— Rookie Clay Matthews III had two sacks, the first multisack game for a Packers rookie since Vonnie Holliday had two against the Giants in 1998.
— Fans donated 22,400 nonperishable food items and $11,511 for the Packers Women's Association's 23rd annual food drive for Paul's Pantry.
— The Minnesota Vikings improved to 6-0 by holding off Baltimore 33-31 at the Metrodome. Ryan Longwell's 31-yard field goal, set up by Brett Favre's 58-yard completion to Sidney Rice, accounted for the final points. Baltimore, which rallied from 17 down in the final 10 minutes, had a chance to win but missed a 44-yard field goal.
"I was just hoping they'd beat them with that kick," Packers linebacker Nick Barnett said. "I was sitting there like, ‘C'mon!' We just have to take care of business the way we take care of business, and let the cards lay wherever they lay when it's over. We take our games one at a time."
— Chicago (3-1) visits Atlanta on Sunday night.
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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. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.