2021 Week 18 - That's What Cheese Said

Hear from the head coach and key players following Green Bay's 37-30 loss to the Detroit Lions. 

The Packers dropped to 13-4 after losing to the Lions at Ford Field 37-30. The loss doesn’t change anything for Green Bay, though, as the Packers had already clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC and the first-round playoff bye. Now, the Packers will have the opportunity to rest before the Divisional Round where they’ll play either the Rams, Cardinals, 49ers, or Eagles. 

While the Week 18 loss affects nothing for the Packers as far as the playoffs are concerned, it’s still a game Green Bay had every intention of winning. 

“No matter who’s out there, the expectations don’t change. We’re about winning with the Green Bay Packers,” said Head Coach Matt LaFleur post-game, adding that now the team has to bounce back from the loss. 

There weren’t only negatives coming out of Sunday, though. The offense got off to a hot start in the first quarter, scoring a touchdown on the opening drive of the game, something Green Bay struggled with for most of the season. All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari and rookie starting center Josh Myers also returned to the lineup, though both played limited snaps. 

“I like where we’re at offensively up front,” said quarterback Aaron Rodgers. From left to right, the starting offensive line included Bakhtiari, Jon Runyan Jr., Myers, Lucas Patrick, and Dennis Kelly. Patrick took over the right guard job in place of Royce Newman, then slid back to center when Myers left the game in the second half. 

“The most important thing today, for me in my mind, was to get out there with Josh and for him to feel the tempo,” continued Rodgers. “And to get out there with Dave and get him comfortable, feeling good about being able to play the whole game come the Divisional Round.”

Rodgers added another 14 completions for 138 yards and two touchdowns to his Most Valuable Player campaign, giving him 4,115 yards on the season with 37 touchdowns and only four interceptions. 

“I think the biggest thing was for us to go out there and just be able to play in rhythm,” said receiver Allen Lazard. 

Davante Adams also had six receptions for 55 yards, extending his single-season reception record to 123 on the year and setting a new single-season franchise record for receiving yards with 1,553, eclipsing the previous record of 1,519 set by Jordy Nelson in 2014. 

Perhaps the star of the offense against the Lions, though, was Lazard. He tied his season-high for yards with 75, hauling in five catches and two touchdowns for the first time in his career. Lazard’s eight touchdowns this season far-exceed his previous season best of three, with four of those eight scores coming in Green Bay’s final three games. 

When asked if he’s motivated by Adams and chasing those records, Lazard said of course he is. How could he not be? “If I’m half as good as him I know I’ll still be in this league for a very long time.”

Defensively, the Packers gave up 37 points, the second-worst total of the season behind only the 38-3 loss Week 1 to the Saints. While starting middle linebacker De’Vondre Campbell was a healthy scratch for the game being held out as a precaution with an elbow injury (LaFleur indicated he would have played if it was a postseason contest), most of the starters took the field. 

Most frustratingly, the Lions scored twice on trick plays, with two explosive scores coming in chunks of 36 and 75 yards. 

“Football in general comes down to discipline and people owning their roles. When you aren’t disciplined, or you go outside the scheme, bad stuff happens,” said a visibly upset LaFleur post-game. “We cannot have that. We need all 11 doing their damn job.”

This is also the second straight week Green Bay’s defense didn’t force a turnover, while the offense gave up three. Protecting the football and forcing takeaways is something the Packers will need to get back to for the postseason push. 

In the second half of the game, quarterback Jordan Love took over. Though he threw two interceptions, one of those picks came off a deflection from his wide receiver that should have been a catch. Green Bay’s third offensive turnover happened on a fumble by receiver Juwann Winfree. For all the bad moments, there were some impressive glimpses, too. 

“I really enjoy his personality. I enjoy his friendship, and we have a lot of fun together. I’m proud of the way he played today,” Rodgers said of Love after the game. 

To start, Love led a scoring drive that started from Green Bay’s 25-yard line and culminated with running back Patrick Taylor’s first career touchdown. Then, he had a 62-yard score to tight end Josiah Deguara that was capped off by a two-point conversion Love ran in himself. That gave the Packers a short-lived 30-27 lead. 

And maybe that’s why the defense’s performance is so frustrating for LaFleur. However meaningless the game was on paper, it was still winnable down to the very end. 

“There’s always time to reflect and feel good. But the bottom line is, we’re in single elimination play right now and we’re gonna have to put everything into each and every game and take advantage of the opportunity,” said LaFleur. 

That single elimination will run through the Frozen Tundra, and this time with the stadium at full capacity. A packed Lambeau Field, just like the weather, is something the team won’t take for granted. 

“I think it makes a huge difference,” Rodgers said of having a full house, referencing the impact the crowd can have on verbal communication and the cadence. “We’ve played in some tough environments on the road in the playoffs over the years and when the crowd is rocking and yelling and standing up, it’s tough. It makes it really hard on the opposing team’s offense.” 

If you ask the Packers, the colder the better when it comes to the Divisional Round. And while the opponent hasn’t been decided yet, it’s win or go home from now on, and the Packers are two wins away from a Super Bowl berth. 

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

7 points

Comments (16)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Ya_tittle's picture

January 11, 2022 at 01:22 pm

Great story. Thanks.

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Lphill's picture

January 11, 2022 at 04:54 pm

If the Packers don’t win it all this year then they never will . It’s now or never .

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Starrbrite's picture

January 12, 2022 at 12:55 am

I suggested the same thing.

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croatpackfan's picture

January 12, 2022 at 04:41 am

Well. never say never, as never is a very long time. Only if you are expecting some huge meteorite crashed the earth in the next 2 or 3 years and wipe out all humans, that never looks like over reacting...

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PatrickGB's picture

January 12, 2022 at 11:41 am

Never is a long long time.

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Leatherhead's picture

January 11, 2022 at 05:43 pm

We’ll be hosting the winner of Rams/AZ, and I don’t think either of those teams is good enough to beat us in January unless we help them. Then a week later it’ll be the survivor for a trip to the Super Bowl.

This team is one of the very best in the last 50 years since the merger. The core of this team has gone 39-10 and two straight Championship games. You’re not likely to see a better stretch for a long time and we can put the capstone next to the other four trophies.

We’re the best team in the league, and we’re going to play like it. We should win it all.

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Starrbrite's picture

January 12, 2022 at 12:55 am

Completely agree Leatherhead.

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murf7777's picture

January 12, 2022 at 07:34 am

Leather head…..one thing about the playoffs is expect the unexpected. Last year I think it was only one favorite won on wildcard weekend. So, yes logic says it will be Rams/AZ, but I think SF takes Dallas down and although I don’t see anyway the Eagles get past Tampa, unless TB turns the ball over 2+ times and Eagles don’t at all. That means if I’m right we will see SF.

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LambeauPlain's picture

January 12, 2022 at 10:09 am

Tampa is all banged up and Antonio Jerk Brown infected the locker room with self centered venom...right on cue.

The Eagles have peaked at the right time. This will be the must see game in my view.

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Starrbrite's picture

January 12, 2022 at 04:29 pm

I believe LambeauPlain is exactly right! Hi Eagles!!

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tincada's picture

January 13, 2022 at 10:39 am

Let's see. If I recall TB12 had 3 interceptions in the stellar game and who won?

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13TimeChamps's picture

January 12, 2022 at 10:51 am

So, one of the "very best teams of the past 50 years" lost to 3 teams that didn't make the playoffs this year, including the lowly Lions. Hyperbole much?

This isn't even the best Packers team during that stretch. That would be the "96 team.

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croatpackfan's picture

January 12, 2022 at 04:48 am

It would be nice to have some explanation from MLF of the some controversial moments during the game, but your overview is on spot!

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LambeauPlain's picture

January 12, 2022 at 10:26 am

To me, the only controversy from Sunday, was how quickly the D has gone back to the mean. I really had hopes we finally had a shut down defense for one of the few years in Rodgers' career. They again look soft in scheme and have been playing with a lack of urgency the last few games, the MN game the exception.

I think Matt made a mistake hiring Barry, a crony fallback, after Jim Leonard slipped away. Maybe getting Z and Alexander the Great back in the huddle will ignite the squad. The Packers have some very good D talent. Barry needs to make it work.

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PatrickGB's picture

January 12, 2022 at 11:49 am

I am not sure that I totally agree about the talent on defense after the aforementioned players, Clark, Campbell, Smith and Gary. Still I do agree that Barry was not the best choice. However, I don’t know who would have been better that was available at the time. This calendar year there are some good candidates who were fired from HC jobs.

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Starrbrite's picture

January 12, 2022 at 04:33 pm

PatrickGB, I’m with you on better D-Coords are available, but I don’t believe Barry will be fired if we win the SB; and likely not even if we don’t win.
The question is also what happens with our ST coaching situation?

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