Big Switch for the Packers: They Dominated the Lions in the Trenches

The Green Bay Packers got revenge on the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving, beating Detroit 29-22. In Week 4, the Lions went into Lambeau Field and dominated the Packers 34-20. While the improved play of Jordan Love and some of his young receivers rightfully got a lot of attention, a major difference between the two games was the Packers improved play in the trenches.

In the first meeting between the teams, the Lions dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The Packers offense couldn’t get anything going on the ground. As a team, the Packers ran just 12 times for 27 yards with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon getting 10 carries between them and Jordan Love running twice.

Meanwhile, the Packers offensive line had difficulty protecting Jordan Love. The Packers allowed five sacks and 11 quarterback hits. The Lions also made eight tackles for loss in the game.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Packers had no answer for the Detroit running game. The Lions gained 211 yards on the ground led by David Montgomery who gained 121 yards and scored three rushing touchdowns. Detroit averaged 4.9-yards per carry and held on to the ball for nearly 38 minutes of the game to just 22 for the Packers.

The Packers didn’t get consistent pressure on Jared Goff. They did sack him twice but for most of the game, Goff had time to throw in part because the Detroit running game was so dominant the Lions were rarely in must pass situations.

Detroit dominated the trenches and dominated the game.

On Thanksgiving, the Packers turned the tables in the trenches and on the scoreboard. Like the Week 4 game, the game was not as close as the score. The Packers took the lead on their first possession of the game and never trailed.

The Packers also did a much better job in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Even though the Packers were without Jones and Emanual Wilson, they were able to run the ball enough. The Packers gained 109 yards on 22 carries in the game, an average of five yards per carry.

The offensive line did a much better job of protecting Love. The Packers quarterback was not sacked in the game and officially the Lions recorded just four quarterback hits. When there was pressure, Love was able to extend plays and often completed checkdown passes.

Aiden Hutchinson, who had 1.5 sacks in the first meeting between these teams, was largely held in check in this game by Zach Tom. Yosh Nijman and Rasheed Walker split time at left tackle and while they allowed a few pressures, they did a better job protecting Love and blocking for the run.

The Packers defense also did an excellent job putting pressure on Jared Goff. Fox Sports credited the Packers defense with more than 20 pressures in the game which meant that Goff was feeling the heat on roughly half of his 44 passing attempts. The Lions offensive line is regarded as one of the better units in the NFL and the Packers defense got the job done.

Officially, the Packers were credited with 12 quarterback hits with Gary leading the way with three. Kenny Clark, Kingsley Enagbare, and Lukas Van Ness each had two.

Rashan Gary led the way with three sacks. He also forced two fumbles and recovered one. This was an emotional game for Gary who suffered a season-ending knee injury the last time the Packers played in Detroit a year ago.

Rookie Karl Brooks also forced and recovered a fumble in this game as the rookie continues to make contributions to the defense.

The Packers run defense was not spectacular statistically as Detroit averaged 4.5-yards per run and gained 140 yards for the game. But many of those yards were after the Packers already had a large lead so Green Bay was willing to give up a few yards per play on the ground to keep the clock moving and prevent Detroit from gaining big plays.

The young Packers roster is improving as the season goes on and that’s important for this team. While the play of Love and Christian Watson got the most attention, the improved play of the team in the trenches were vital to the Packers ability to turn the tables on the Lions on Thanksgiving Day.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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11 points
 

Comments (29)

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

November 25, 2023 at 11:30 am

A few of our guys put their 1 on 1 matchups on SKATES, and that includes #18 Heath!

Cerebral, finesse, scheme, game plan, playcalls, none of that is what wins games. Yes it HELPS, but ya gotta kick the ass of the man across from you. GB DID! And against a very tough, physical team.

"Soft?" This goes a long way to erasing THAT notion. Keep it up and GPG!!

16 points
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splitpea1's picture

November 25, 2023 at 11:30 am

In some aspects, yes. But there is no question that is was a big improvement over the last meeting.

The pass protection, including the work of the backs, was fabulous. But take away the rushes by Love, and you have 19 carries for 70 yards. Run blocking continues to be an issue and it will continue to be until changes are made; Dillon being met in the backfield has become a commonplace sight. Starting Rhyan might be a good beginning.

Thumbs up to Brooks and Van Ness for making some big plays, but where would we be without Gary? He is The Man.

Run defense has been an Achilles' heel for years. While giving up 140 yards on 31 carries is nowhere close to our worst effort, it still leaves a lot to be desired. Sometimes you can blame Barry but sometimes not.

Really the trenches have to be main focus of the off-season. Gute may love "athletic and fast", but we need to be balancing this with some physicality and power in our areas of need--it's essential if we're thinking of becoming a serious playoff team.

8 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

November 25, 2023 at 11:32 am

Agreed. #99 and Mt Caleb on the bench is bad strategy. Why have depth if you never use them?

1 points
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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 25, 2023 at 12:44 pm

I always count just the RB running yards in my articles while noting reverses and QB runs. No question that the Packers don't run the ball well. And when it is 3rd or 4th and short, GB never dominates in the trenches.

The DL can get penetration. It, too, isn't nearly as good against the run. The simple reality is that the FO prefers defensive linemen with "juice" over stoutness and look at pass blocking over run blocking when drafting offensive linemen. They have been getting what they prioritize.

I agree with Gil that the O-line and D-line were much better than in the first meeting. Dominated is not a word I would use as a description. Clark really dominated with 8 pressures including 7 hurries according to PFF, but they gave him a good grade of 71, meaning he was not all that good or at least had multiple lapses against the run. Then again, Herman gave Clark a good grade as well.

6 points
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Guam's picture

November 25, 2023 at 10:21 pm

Thank you TGR! My thoughts exactly.

On offense, pass pro was good, run blocking was crappy. On defense, pass rush was very good, run defense was mediocre. Not my definition of "dominate" nor most other people's. I would say the Packers progressed from getting dominated in the previous outing to a tie in the trenches this time around. Much better, but still a ways to go.

2 points
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Bitternotsour's picture

November 26, 2023 at 10:35 am

To me this is the equivalent of saying "take out the good runs and the run game pretty much sucked" I can see removing the scrambles, but that option was a quarterback run all the way, and it was set up by a fake handoff. Any designed run is a run. By the qb, by a wideout, whatever. It's like removing any run plays to Deebo Samuel in SF because he's a wideout. By your logic TGR, you should discount any pass plays to a running back.

0 points
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Minniman's picture

November 26, 2023 at 07:42 pm

Fortunately, there's been LOTS of detailed video analysis of the win by a number of content providers.

Myers really is a risk - he can be bested at will when he doesn't get help.

1 points
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NickPerry's picture

November 26, 2023 at 05:29 am

"Gute may love "athletic and fast", but we need to be balancing this with some physicality and power in our areas of need--it's essential"

Yes, yes, and yes! An O-Linemen can look like Twinkle Toes, and Jesse Owens combined but who in the hell cares if they look like they're on roller skates the whole game game?

I'm probably one of the few who still think Vann Ness was a good pick. I've been watching him more and more, especially when I replay a game and he's been playing better. I see a stud in the making and wouldn't be surprised a bit if he really starts to flash more and more these last 6 weeks.

I'm still not overly concerned with the playoffs. Sure, it would be great to watch Love and these rookies make a run and grab a final playoff spot. BUT I also want the best draft position available. Can't have my cake and eat it too.

3 points
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PatrickGB's picture

November 26, 2023 at 09:18 am

Currently, as a pass rusher LVN is meh. Yet his pursuit speed is great. He seems to be able to track down the ball carrier faster than anyone else on the line.

2 points
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Bitternotsour's picture

November 26, 2023 at 10:38 am

those darn players who exhibit exceptional physical traits. it's stupid to draft them.

try to give the front office the benefit of the doubt, they don't draft based on combine scores, they draft based on tape and what the see with their own eyes. that they also consider exceptional physical prowess is just smart business.

by your logic here, we should toss back Rashon Gary, discard Watson, and on and on...

0 points
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Minniman's picture

November 26, 2023 at 07:49 pm

As long as the Jets and Bills keep spluttering you can (have your cake and eat it too).

If this team makes a run and gets to the playoffs, then I'll gladly take the draft order hit in the knowledge that there's not massive roster holes all over the place that immediately need to be addressed.

Sure - there's some already (RB, C, RG, S), but as fans we'll be in a world of pain if Love and the receivers bust.

1 points
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Qoojo's picture

November 25, 2023 at 11:37 am

One of the more impressive plays was when Clark pushed the guard back like he was a blocking sled.

I would put a qualifier on the OL that the domination was in passing game.

The Lions might deteriorate from here on, if you consider the bears nearly did the same things, but well, they're the bears.

8 points
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PackerBO's picture

November 25, 2023 at 12:40 pm

Yep, offensive lines and defensive lines generally wind games. Keep drafting them, it also pushes the starters because they do not want to lose their jobs. A win win!!!

3 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

November 26, 2023 at 10:43 am

Aside from Tom and Jenkins, the rest can lose their jobs. The Oline opened holes, again, with Rhyan controlling the RG spot.

3 points
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Coldworld's picture

November 27, 2023 at 11:42 am

By far our best O lineman in the run game was Nijman. The second best was Rhyan. Shocking.

0 points
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Swisch's picture

November 25, 2023 at 02:26 pm

If our offensive line is good at pass blocking, and our defensive line is good at rushing the passer, at least each of these lines is good at one part of the game.
In other words, we have something to work with on offense with our pass protection, and something to work with on defense with our pass rush.
The key is to maximize our strengths and to minimize our weaknesses.
***
On offense, the Packers may have to go mainly with the pass, but they can make the most of this by sprinkling in short passes that can serve somewhat the same purpose as running plays.
Also, I like the increased use of jet sweeps to help keep the defenses honest, plus the idea of occasionally using our QB as a runner on roll outs and draw plays.
Plus, maybe use Rhyan more often if it helps the run game.
I would say definitely don't give up on the running game, but at the same time don't feel obligated to use it as much as the passing game.
Go with our strengths for this season, and then see what we can do in the offseason to make improvements for the future.
***
What I liked on defense is that, even though the Lions made some good gains with their running game, they didn't dominate us; or to put it more positively, the Packers defense seemed to play the running game with toughness and energy so as to minimize their deficiency in this area.
Meanwhile, to make up for the lack of run defense, the Packers showed an awesome pass rush.
That may be about the best we can do for this season on defense -- so let's simply make the most of what we've got.
***
It's not a surprise that the Packers aren't a complete team as of yet.
For now, let's see if we can get at least four more wins this season by making the most of what we already have with crafty coaching and youthful exuberance.

0 points
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stockholder's picture

November 25, 2023 at 06:56 pm

The Lions know they have the division.
They only need to get healthy.
It was a great win.
While the Packers won the battle,
It won't win the war.
And everyone knows.
it's about peaking at the right time.

-4 points
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Minniman's picture

November 26, 2023 at 07:54 pm

"it's about peaking at the right time."

Yep - just ask the Vike's last year..... one and done. Complacency is a momentum killer.

This coming weeks game will be pivotal - if the Pack beat the Chiefs, then no-one will want to go up against them.

2 points
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Green Bay Shareholder's picture

November 27, 2023 at 12:04 pm

Not sure where or how that performance came from on Thanksgiving - just very thankful ! More impressive because it was up against a Playoff Caliber team. Now to see what we have against another quality franchise - the Chiefs. I believe Love is the type of player that doesn't get too high or too low, great quality to have, especially on a team in transition. Rodgers could not pull this off last year and would have already lost his mind this year. I just hope everyone's expectations are based in reality and would love to see some high level performance consistency that will indicate the Team is on the right path. Goff played a miserable game, the Lions coaching / play calling forced some horrendous mistakes. Don't believe we can count on that happening with Playoff Caliber teams on a regular basis and we need to continue to eliminate potentially back breaking mistakes ourselves - missed extra points would be a great start as well as false starts. The game with the Chiefs will be a great litmus test to see where we stand.

0 points
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joejetson's picture

November 25, 2023 at 11:03 pm

I thought the Packers pass rush forced Detroit into sort of a "Catch-22" situation where they were reluctant to pass, and they were having some success on the ground. But with GB having the early lead, they couldn't cut into the lead. Combined with their 4th down failures, and the desperate fake punt disaster, the end result was an old fashioned butt kicking.
I've been critical of LaFleur for his timid play calling and overall "soft" play. But he actually addressed those issues by taking the opening kickoff and starting with the bomb to Watson. It seemed to really get Love and the entire offense jacked up and playing with confidence right off the bat. They scored and kept scoring until they had built a nice lead. It sure seemed a lot easier than always playing catch-up. You need some early success, especially with a young team like they have.
I hope Pepe remembers that and doesn't go back to playing conservatively.

2 points
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TKWorldWide's picture

November 26, 2023 at 08:47 am

COMPLETING that pass to Watson to open the game was monumental.

1 points
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mrtundra's picture

November 26, 2023 at 07:16 am

I love the victory and maybe this will force Goff to shut up, a bit. Getting Karl Brooks, in the 6th Round of the Draft, was a steal! Some Big Boards gave him a 5 star rating, before the draft. I'd say that was an accurate rating. We now have the possibility of winning out, if we keep playing like we did against Detroit. GO PACK, GO!!!

6 points
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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

November 26, 2023 at 07:41 am

Lucky win. Just like we were lucky to be just one blown call for a backwards pass from victory against the Steelers. Just like if the Chargers had not dropped passes, we would have lost on Sunday. Without superior line play by the Pack on both sides it would have been a different outcome. We were so lucky that Detroit didn’t convert most of their 4th down tries. Very fortunate that the superior football mind that is Dan Campbell didn’t succeed while going for it from their own 23.

Or, just maybe, Gute did good work, the team has pretty decent talent and depth, they’re gaining experience, and the coaching staff may deserve some credit.

3 points
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SwedeBayPacker's picture

November 26, 2023 at 07:50 am

It took longer than it should've to not be embarrasing for everyone, but people finally seem to have remembered how to contain Goff.

0 points
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TKWorldWide's picture

November 26, 2023 at 08:50 am

I get it, but maybe we need to adjust our opinions on how long it should take.They have a strong line, good receivers…maybe “contain” is easier said than done is all I’m saying.

1 points
2
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TxFred's picture

November 26, 2023 at 10:33 am

Finally! Finally! This team got away from the woke, passive, entertainment style shit the league & coastal elite marketing experts want. Tired some basic, fundamental ass kicking & mouth smashing football. They seemed to all like it. Actual blocked & tackled, who knew?

Lions were laying all over the place, picking themselves up off the plastic! The Pack were enjoying dishing out some nasty, mean, aggressive hard nose style football. Even looked surprised.

Now, they need to keep that tough confidence and attack the rest of the schedule. Going to be tough. Super Bowl teams ahead and other better, experienced teams too. Keep the attitude & will with teamwork. They can do it. Basic hard nose fundamental blocking and tackling. Route executing, holding catchable passes, actual shoulder pad tackling, aggressive & contained pass rush they can do it.

The O Line needs to play like it's their last game. It will be for some, this year. But it is those players CHOICES. Keep fucking up run & pass blocking assignments and you will be toast. This is a business.

This is not a TALL task. Just play basic, fundamental hard nose football with attitude. They can do it! GPG.

-5 points
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5
KKB's picture

November 26, 2023 at 04:23 pm

Toughness - IMO the turning point was last weeks Zack Tom late hit and penalty.

While I hated to see the penalty. I welcomed the show of some attitude on offense. I am tired of the soft, finesse, intellectual crap. Time to play with the with the big boys, and kick some ass.

2 points
2
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calabasa's picture

November 26, 2023 at 06:27 pm

So much to love about this game. Barry’s terrible D is the best scoring D in the division. He must be doing something right…

1 points
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TxFred's picture

November 27, 2023 at 10:53 am

Game came down to attitude. Pack gave out an ass kicking & a dose mouth smashing basic football. It was refreshing to watch.
It is better to give than receive. So true!!
Now, can this team continue? Big question.
Hand out the mouth smashing & ass kicking the rest of the season. I guarantee you'll feel better.
Along the way picking up more wins. Especially the passive, non-aggressive team in-line with the league's desire for "entertainment shit".

0 points
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