Packers-Lions Report Card

The Packers beat Detroit 26-0 on Sunday, but the grades are a bit more realistic than the final score would indicate. There were too many mistakes in the passing game and not enough holes for Ryan Grant in the running game.


All in all, scores of positives outweighed a slew of negatives. Aaron Rodgers topped the 350-yard mark for the second consecutive game, with a career-high-tying 29 completions in 37 attempts for 358 yards and two touchdowns. He had a run of 12 consecutive completions in a 13-of-14 start for 150 yards and both scores by early in the second quarter, hooking up with seven players in the process. Nine players finished with catches. Donald Driver led the way on a momentous day for the team's most-tenured player. His first of a season-high seven receptions broke a stalemate with Sterling Sharpe for Green Bay's career catches record. Driver totaled 107 receiving yards, culminating with an incredible one-handed grab (his second of the season) for 37 yards in the third quarter. Greg Jennings earlier snared a deep ball with one hand for 26 yards, the start of an unusually productive game (six catches for 64 yards) for the team's top wideout, who had been quiet much of the season. James Jones started the rout by easily getting open on broken coverage for a 47-yard touchdown. The tight ends were active — Jermichael Finley, Donald Lee and Spencer Havner combined for nine catches for 102 yards. On the flip side, however, the Packers had three more drops, bringing the season total to 17; Rodgers was sacked five more times, upping his league-high total to 25; and his second interception of the season was on a badly forced throw down the middle of the field. What's more, Rodgers fumbled the ball away on a sack with the ball inside the Detroit 5-yard line, emblematic of the Packers' 1-for-5 efficiency in the red zone.


Ryan Grant's dubious streak without a 100-yard game remained intact this season. He can thank the 26-0 cushion on which the Packers sat the final 1 1/2 quarters for a big spike in his numbers after another dreadful start to a game. Almost half (11) of his 24 carries came in the final quarter, in which he gained 62 of his 90 yards. Grant enjoyed his longest run of the season — 22 yards — in the waning moments. Up until then, he wasn't able to generate much of anything against a depleted Lions defensive line, which was down three starters. Grant's halftime output was an anemic 29 yards on 10 carries. Seven of his runs in the game went for no more than a yard, with five for no gain or a negative number. Brandon Jackson made his belated season debut and had his number called only two times for a measly 6 yards. Rodgers continued to be effective pulling the ball down, picking up 10 yards on his only scramble. The Packers averaged a subpar 3.6 yards on the ground.


Green Bay's pressure-challenged defense had a head start on having a dominant day when the Lions rolled into town without rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford and star wideout Calvin Johnson. From there, the Packers had an easy time of it with aging Daunte Culpepper and Drew Stanton, who replaced an injured Culpepper in the third quarter, standing in the pocket. The Packers frequently blitzed, sacking the listless QB duo five times, picking off three passes and forcing the tandem into a horrendous combined passer rating of 16.7. The Lions mustered all of 71 net passing yards and were 0-for-10 on third down. Rookie OLB Clay Matthews, in a full-time role for the first time this season, set the tone with two early sacks of Culpepper. DL Cullen Jenkins made an athletic play to pluck a screen pass out of the air for his first career interception on Detroit's opening series. CB Al Harris was in the right place at the right time to intercept a pass that glanced off TE Brandon Pettigrew going out of bounds. S Atari Bigby, in his first action since suffering a knee injury in the season opener, preserved the shutout by having inside position in the end zone on a slanting John Standeford for a pick. LB Aaron Kampman registered just his second sack of the season out of a more comfortable two-point stance, which he had the liberty to go to for the first time this season.


The Packers kept Kevin Smith in an early-season funk, holding him to 61 yards on 15 carries. The Lions averaged a respectable 4.3 yards per carry, but they were boosted by big runs of 20 and 19 yards by Smith and 14 yards by Aaron Brown on an early end-around. Matthews, regarded for his pass-rushing prowess, was arguably more effective in playing the run. He was in on three early tackles of Smith behind the line of scrimmage. Matthews' closing speed was impressive when he kept Smith from getting to the boundary on a deep toss on fourth-and-1 in Packers territory and turned him back to the inside for a tackle shared with fellow rookie B.J. Raji for a 1-yard loss. ILB Nick Barnett also was assertive at the line, registering a team-high nine tackles (eight solo).


The special teams units committed four penalties, none bigger than a holding call on rookie Evan Dietrich-Smith in Green Bay territory to wipe out a 99-yard touchdown return by Jordy Nelson to start the game. Nelson, the replacement for injured return specialist Will Blackmon, suffered a knee injury later in the first quarter. The Packers didn't field another kickoff, and they turned to CBs Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson on punt returns. Williams provided an immediate spark with a 45-yard runback to set up a field goal in the second quarter. However, the sure-handed Woodson was summoned to handle the remaining punts on a windy afternoon. Mason Crosby was hindered by the breezy conditions on a few of his kickoffs, but he connected on all four field-goal tries, the longest at 46 yards. Jeremy Kapinos averaged 41 yards on his two punts. The coverage units were solid, holding kickoff-return threat Derrick Williams to 16 yards on six runbacks.


Sure, the Packers won by 26 points and posted a shutout. Yet, they suffered through a ragged performance that included a season-high 13 penalties for 130 yards, five sacks of Rodgers and ineffectiveness by the offense in the red zone. Those dreary facts don't reflect well on the coaches, particularly head coach/play-caller Mike McCarthy and his offensive line coaches. The linemen committed six of the penalties — including five of the pre-snap variety, with four by LT Chad Clifton in his return to action after missing two games because of an ankle injury. The running game continues to be a sore spot, so something has to be addressed there in a hurry. Defensively, Dom Capers responded to recent criticism, including in house from Woodson, that he was tempering the intended aggressiveness in his 3-4 scheme by dialing up more blitzes against a horrible Lions offense. The ploy worked in this instance.

Packer Report Top Stories