The Green Bay Packers got a win on Sunday, but their 28-26 victory over the Detroit Lions left a lot to be desired.
The 0-4 Lions racked up more than 400 yards of offense in Lambeau Field and quarterback Shaun Hill threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns, largely on the strength of short passes to his tight ends and running backs.
Despite two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Charles Woodson, and three sacks, the Packers defense was less than impressive and the blueprint for beating the team seems to be clear — counter the Packers’ blitz with screens and underneath passes.
While Woodson had his first solid game of the season, racking up 12 tackles in addition to his interception return and playing solid coverage on Lions receiver Calvin Johnson down the stretch, the rest of the defense left a lot to be desired.
Linebacker A.J. Hawk, who somehow came up with an interception, was his usual slow-footed bad-angle taking self. Rookie Frank Zombo was ineffective in his second start. He was unable to get to the quarterback and the Packers ended up rotating him with Brad Jones and Brady Poppinga. The Packers seemed to miss safety Morgan Burnett, as well. Burnett left with an injured knee in the second quarter and was replaced by Derrick Martin.
Aside from Woodson and Clay Matthews, who added another sack and was the Packers main pass rush threat, the only other player on the Packers defense who made a favorable impression was cornerback Jarrett Bush, who finished with five tackles and played solid coverage throughout the day — something historically uncharacteristic of him.
The Packers offense wasn’t anymore memorable than the defense. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw two interceptions and finished with only 181 yards. Rodgers’ interceptions were mind boggling, the final of which made the defender look like the receiver on the play.
The ground game was again non-existent, with no runner gaining over 40 yards. John Kuhn finished with a team-leading 39 yards on nine carries, a 4.3-yard average. While the Packers made no effort to establish a running game, Kuhn did effectively kill any shot the Lions had at winning by running hard on the Packers’ final possession — one in which they ate up the final 6:32 of the clock.
Special teams again played a negative role, but this time the coverage units weren’t to blame. Kick returner Jordy Nelson fumbled twice, giving the Lions field position that lead to two field goal tries, one of which was successful.
Perhaps the one silver lining in an ugly victory was the Packers played virtually penalty-free football after racking up a team-record 18 penalties last week.
At the end of the day, the Packers are in a first-place tie with the Chicago Bears in the NFC North, but this team looks nothing like the Super Bowl contender they were billed as prior to the season.