Packers 31 Lions 24: Game Balls and Lame Calls

Cardiac Pack now the top dog in the NFC.

The Green Bay Packers have finally found their championship level defense.   It just happens to play on the offensive side of the ball.   With the actual defense going through its usual struggle to keep the dam from bursting, the Packers' offense played keepaway just long enough to seal victory number ten.

After playing to a 14-14 draw in the first half, the Green Bay offense allowed Detroit a grand total of three offensive plays in the third quarter.   The Pack came out of the locker room with a 14 play, 8:49 touchdown drive.   They followed that with a 12 play, 7:49 march to take a 28-14 lead with about 12 minutes to play.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Green Bay's defense then allowed the door to reopen, committing five penalties on a drive that kept the Lions alive and on their way to closing to within one score.   It was clear that the offense would have to win the game, and win it they did.   A 29 yard throw to Davante Adams set up Mason Crosby's incredibly clutch 57 yard field goal that effectively put the game out of reach......for about the length of a TV commercial break.   Because on the ensuing kickoff the Packers coverage team allowed Jamal Agnew to run 71 yards.   The defense couldn't even stop back-up quarterback Chase Daniel, who replaced the injured Matthew Stafford on the final drive.   Daniel had outflanked the Green Bay defense for a touchdown run that would have closed the lead to three points, but a holding call brought the score back.

The Lions settled for a field goal.   Time again for special teams to add some excitement, nearly messing up an onside kick.   It would be up to the offense to snuff out the fire, as Aaron Rodgers calmly fired a six yard pass to Robert Tonyan for the backbreaking first down.

So the beat goes on.   The Packers are who they are.   Hard to argue with 10-3 and, for the moment, the top seed in the NFC.   Just make sure you take your blood pressue medication before you watch them play.

 

GAME BALLS

Marquez Valdes-Scantling

I think we saw a landmark performance here.   For the first time, MVS showed the ability to be a consistent, possession receiver, instead of just a long ball threat.   He converted a third down on a ten yard cross in the first quarter, then made a sensational catch on the 14 yard touchdown throw in the second quarter.   But perhaps his most important play was a 20 yard grab to convert third and 14 in the third quarter.   It enabled the Pack to overcome a holding penalty and continue a drive that would eventually put the Pack in the lead for good.   He finished with 6  catches for 85 yards in what I believe was his best game to date.

 

Davante Adams

His run after the catch on the 56 yard first quarter score was poetry.   His 29 yarder to set up the final field goal was the definition of clutch.   He finished with 7 grabs for 115 and a score.   Commentator Tony Dungy called him the best receiver in the game.   Who am I to argue?

 

Mason Crosby

His 57 yard field goal was oneof his longest ever.   What a spot for it.   Has to be especially sweet to break the Lions' backs in this stadium, the scene of his worst game ever a few years ago.  Had he missed, the Lions would have had the ball on their 48 yard line, down by one score with three minutes to play.   Maybe it's about time somebody called him the best in the game as well.

 

Aaron Rodgers

Sure, give him another one.   The Packers really needed his poise and savvy down the stretch.   He wasn't perfect, but his execution was at its best when the team needed it the most.   His third down conversions were lethal.   Especially the final one to Tonyan that put it away.    He was 26 of 33 for 290 yards and 3 scores, and ran for a touchdown.   QB rating of 133.6.   Everyone chant with me now:   MVP!   MVP!    MVP!

 

Honorable Mention

The offensive line played another outstanding game.   Rodgers was not sacked.   At one point in the second half Green Bay ran the ball seven times in a row.   Consecutive sacks by Darnell Savage and Kenny Clark stopped the Lions from scoring at the end of the half.   Couple of really hard, aggressive hits from rookie defensive back Vernon Scott.    Green Bay's defense does deserve credit for doing a good job against the run, holding Detroit to 51 yards on the ground.

 

LAME CALLS

Coverage Team Strategy

Is there nothing we can do to adjust our kick coverage?   Opposing returners are choosing to run the ball out no matter how deep the kick is in the end zone.   That's an insult to our special teams.   The onside kick actually hit the leg of Allen Lazard, but fortunately it went out of bounds before the Lions could gather it in.

 

SHORT YARDAGE

•  I know it won't make you feel any better, but the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs' defense looks a lot like ours.   They dropped back into a soft zone and watched a 30-10 lead over the Dolphins melt away to a one score game before hanging on to win.

•  Good to see Matt LaFleur get Tavon Austin into the offense early with two quick touches.

•  If Darrell Bevell is auditioning for a head coaching job somewhere, it's going quite well.   His play calling was excellent.   He was a step ahead of Mike Pettine all day.   I was particularly impressed by the way he neutralized our pass rush by calling screens, most all of which broke for big yards.

•  I love, love, love watching Jamaal Williams run up the gut on third and one.   He lacks the explosion through the hole of Aaron Jones, but when you gotta have that one yard, he's da man!

•  Favorite snapshot of the game:   Tonyan giving nuggies to an unidentified teammate after his TD catch.

 

THEY SAID IT

Davante Adams (on his 56 yard TD):   "Once I came down with it and took a couple strides down field, the corner wasn't in play anymore and the safety was kind of in no man's land so it was really just about me being precise with my feet, getting those knees up and getting in the end zone."

Matt LaFleur (on the decision to let Crosby try the 58 yard field goal):   "Shawn (Mennenga) was ready to throw the punt team out there.   I looked at Mason and said 'can you hit this?' and he said 'yes'......that's a lot of faith and belief in his abilities.....and I'm just glad he made us right." 

Aaron Rodgers:   "We've played in, I believe, four NFC championship games, all four on the road.   So being able to have the whole thing come through Green Bay is something that we've talked about for a long time, we've wanted it and we've never had it...that's obviously in play now."

 

-----------------------------------

Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

9 points

Comments (39)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
jlc1's picture

December 14, 2020 at 06:06 am

MLF over rules Mennenga. Clearly it should happen more often.

22 points
22
0
rstain99's picture

December 14, 2020 at 06:31 am

Can't say I was in favor of FG at that point but thats why I am here and not on sideline of NFL game. Cardiac is perfect call on this team, ST are just terrible no respect from other team on coverage. Any news on Rashad Gary early sack then poof! 10-3 pretty nice

7 points
7
0
Philarod's picture

December 14, 2020 at 06:37 am

So, are the Special Teams suffering from..."Mennengitis"?

29 points
29
0
BradHTX's picture

December 14, 2020 at 07:09 am

That, or erectile dysfunc-shawn.

8 points
9
1
Bearmeat's picture

December 14, 2020 at 09:48 am

I hate it that I laughed at both of these tearable dad jokes.

6 points
6
0
BradHTX's picture

December 14, 2020 at 12:42 pm

And I’m not even a dad. Just an irrepressible punster.

3 points
3
0
RCPackerFan's picture

December 14, 2020 at 07:09 am

Game Balls:

Aaron Rodgers/Davante Adams - I guess this is just an automatic game ball at this point. There is no QB/WR tandem that is playing as well as these 2 are right now.

MVS - This IMO was MVS's best game as a Packer! He caught everything his way. And it wasn't just him catching the ball it was how he was catching the ball. He caught everything with his hands. He made the great back shoulder catch for a TD. That is a play that MVS hasn't really made before. IF he can make that a consistent part of his game, he will become very hard to defend. His 3rd and 14 catch was also very impressive but also very important at the time. The only negative that I saw was the holding penalty. Lets be real though, that happens to every player. He is one of our best blocking WR's.
A side note about MVS. I think he might be one of those types of WR's that needs an early catch to get in the game mentally. I would like to see them trying to find the ball early in the games on easy plays.

Tonyan - He didn't have a monster game. He had 5 catches for 36 yards and 1 TD. It was big moments that he had catches. 2 of his 5 catches came in the 4th quarter. He also had another in the drive at the end of the 3rd quarter going into the 4th. That play was a 3rd down play that set up his TD catch. But when the game was one the line he got them the first down on 3rd down to seal the win.

Crosby - I thought the Packers should have punted the ball and pin the Lions back. Especially after they had to move the ball back. I was wrong. Crosby absolutely drilled that 57 yard FG! And not only that, the next kickoff the coverage unit absolutely sucked and who was there to stop the return man. Crosby!

Lame Calls:

Special Teams coverage - Can't we have 1 game where we aren't allowing a huge return? They better get this cleaned up because in the playoffs you have to play well in all 3 phases. 1 phase lets you down, you are out of the playoffs. They better figure this thing out quick!!!

Notes:

Tavon Austin Debut - I really like the looks of Austin in our offense. He adds a spark to it. I love Ervin in our offense, but i kind of feel like Austin might add a bit more. He is more explosive. Austin could be a really, really good fit in our offense. A player to really keep an eye on as we get closer to the playoffs.

Vernon Scott - A player I really hope they get on the field more. I hope he replaces Redmond in the Nickel/Dime packages. Scott is just a better player. He takes really good angles. He hits harder. He plays better coverage. I hope we start to see him over Redmond. I think he offers a greater upside.

Dean Lowry - It feels like his game has improved the last few weeks. I could be wrong but it feels like he has improved.

NFC NORTH CHAMPS! A playoff spot clinched and earned the number 1 seed as of today. Yesterday couldn't have gone any better for GB!

14 points
14
0
Archie's picture

December 14, 2020 at 09:59 am

re: V Scott

This year GBP found four guys for middle of defense that I really like.

(1) Scott & Black - two hard hitting S that have great length and athleticism. Should only get better in year 2 & 3.

(2) Barnes & Martin - Kirksey is too slow and not a big hitter.

These 4 guys cost the Pack a 5th and a 7th round pick - that's tremendous value.

Overall, I thought Packer tackling was much crisper yesterday. Scott & Amos had some nice hits. Run game was pretty well stopped as well.

3 points
3
0
D.D.Driver's picture

December 14, 2020 at 07:13 am

The NFL needs to do *something* about the defensive holding penalty. I'm not sure what, but games should not be decided principally based upon which team is better at "not holding."

2 points
5
3
egbertsouse's picture

December 14, 2020 at 07:57 am

Pettine could help by trashing that defense where Kirksey covers the slot receivers. Mike, you have DBs all over the place. Don’t put your slowest guy on the slot guy.

11 points
11
0
gkarl's picture

December 14, 2020 at 07:32 am

Short yardage: Well we made all of 3rd and 1"s this week I believe, that's a nice a change. Also the pass to Tonyan on the play to get the first down to end the game. We run that play lot and it seems like its always successful, never big yards but it gets what its designed for.

11 points
11
0
Guam's picture

December 14, 2020 at 08:01 am

Couldn't agree more gkarl! It was good to see the Packers consistently make short yardage plays. Not sure what adjustments were made, but I was very happy to see it happen.

2 points
2
0
murf7777's picture

December 14, 2020 at 07:34 am

Lowry was a beast in this game, making 4 tackles and a sack. His game is shaping up just in time for a playoff run. It was great to see the Packers shut down the lions run game early and often. Their run D is getting better and his play is part of the reason. Let’s hope he continues with this type of playing.

8 points
8
0
Guam's picture

December 14, 2020 at 08:04 am

Lowery has definitely been better the last two games. Not sure I would call him a beast just yet, but his improved play is helping the Packer D.

5 points
5
0
Razer's picture

December 14, 2020 at 07:42 am

Grateful for the NFC title and higher seed. Can't lose sight of the fact that we squeaked by a lesser team without its top two corners and top WR. Almost letting them back in the game in the 4th quarter with mistakes and penalties in every facet of the game is inexcusable. If 'good enough' is the motto - then we are the best.

I thought Coach Lafleur was going to fire Pettine right on the spot with the 12 men on the field. Pettine looked lost behind his call sheet. Maybe Pettine and Mennenga are spies.

This team is ruining my marriage.

2 points
5
3
Guam's picture

December 14, 2020 at 07:59 am

A lesser team with a new head coach for whom they are playing very hard. The Lions beat the Bears last week and seriously challenged the Packers. This is a much better team without Patricia.

And yes, MLF did not look happy with Pettine. Hopefully more to come from that....... I would be thrilled with a new ST coach and a new DC (in that order of priority).

6 points
7
1
dobber's picture

December 14, 2020 at 07:44 am

""that's a lot of faith and belief in his abilities.....and I'm just glad he made us right." "

A lot of self awareness and humility on the part of LaF in that quote.

12 points
12
0
pacman's picture

December 14, 2020 at 08:06 am

Can't judge much by playing a bad d like Lions. But their offense is ok. It seems that Pettine has started bringing on more pressure. That definitely got to Stafford. But it does seem we might need more press or man coverage. It wasn't bad but certainly not great and not SB level.

I didn't watch the questions after the game but where's the guy that asked 'how he can stand playing MVS' a few weeks back? Maybe now he could ask how he can stand ST play/coaching?

-1 points
3
4
Swisch's picture

December 14, 2020 at 09:00 am

It is true that our best defense is a great offense, but the problem is if in the playoffs our offense doesn't get the ball enough because the defense allows seemingly endless drives that consume the clock.
Against the Colts, we were up 28-14 at halftime; but then our offense was hardly on the field the rest of the game -- and we lost in overtime 31-34.
The Eagles offense started the game against us by holding the ball more then 11 out of 15 minutes in the first quarter.
Playoff defenses are going to stop our great offense at times; and then playoff offense are going to be more difficult to keep off the field.
If our offense has a couple of three-and-outs, all of a sudden we're stuck watching our defense give up first down after first down in an exasperating exhibition of football follies.
We shouldn't have to put our blood pressure to the test like that

4 points
5
1
Archie's picture

December 14, 2020 at 10:12 am

The strength seems to be in the AFC this year. It will be very difficult for any NFC team to beat any AFC team in the SB, regardless of who makes it from either conference. GB's biggest obstacle to getting to the SB appears to be the RAMS. NFC Championship: GBP V LAR. Watch out for Buffalo in AFC. Heck, Cleveland could still win the AFC North with two 1,000 yard RBs behind a great rub blocking line. Tonight's game v Ravens should be interesting.

Pack favored by 8.5 v CAR. O/U = 51.

2 points
3
1
PeteK's picture

December 14, 2020 at 10:41 am

The norm in this years NFL, ex: Philly beat NO, KC almost loses after taking a lg lead.

2 points
2
0
Norm's picture

December 15, 2020 at 07:42 pm

I’m not actually in the NFL Pete, just a fan.
:-)

0 points
0
0
Swisch's picture

December 14, 2020 at 09:03 am

What I wrote above is worth repeating, but I didn't mean to.

3 points
3
0
4thdown's picture

December 14, 2020 at 09:22 am

Well written summary of the game Ken. I laughed my "Lass" off reading it. You hit every nail square on the head! To me watching these games is like sitting in the dentist chair getting a tooth drilled without novocaine. We just have to face it. The offense has to score 30 and then just hang on baby! Thats the MO of this team this year while last year was just win ugly. I don't like it anymore than the next fan but its alot better than the alternative of getting your heart ripped out at the end. Go Pack!!

4 points
5
1
Razer's picture

December 14, 2020 at 09:49 am

So true. But a team playing with such inconsistency - you gotta know that the "heart ripping out" is coming. Especially, when the defense is put out there to seal the deal - arrrgh.

3 points
4
1
jhalwas611.com's picture

December 14, 2020 at 09:49 am

Game balls to MVS for his catches as well as his blocking. His contested catches are great. If he could focus as well on the easier throws he's be a great addition. The offensive line for pass protection. Crosby and MLF for the confidence to get points.
Lame calls to the overall special teams plan again. Poor lane discipline once again nearly cost a game. Special teams once contributed to a Super Bowl win and now may prevent playing there. Lame call to Kings tackling.

6 points
6
0
Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

December 14, 2020 at 10:02 am

“To the surprise of absolutely no one, Green Bay's defense then allowed the door to reopen.” I believe that what we are seeing with teams like us and the Chiefs playing soft coverage with leads is simple math. The coaches look at the probabilities, and the time consumption of drives and decide it is now time to sit back in coverage and chew up the clock. What throws off the calculus is the big play on special teams...which seems to happen repeatedly these days.

1 points
2
1
PeteK's picture

December 14, 2020 at 10:46 am

Or that it doesn't work in today's NFL where most teams can pass the ball.

3 points
4
1
Big_Mel_75's picture

December 14, 2020 at 10:06 am

Adams is a beast! Only can imagine what his season would look like if he didn't miss two games? NFL records. Happy for his Packer's record of 8 straight games with a td. Hopefully will tie AJ Green's record of 9 next week.

3 points
3
0
Since91's picture

December 14, 2020 at 10:14 am

St. Brown, Black and Redmond were the main culprits on the long kick return! How in de hell is St. Brown our outside cover man on the kick off team??? He doesn’t want to hit anyone! He raced down the field and danced with a would be blocker....absolutely horrible!
Redmond took a bad angle and Black could not get off a block!
Kick off cover guys need to be soft in the head....that play in football is not for wimps! We either start directional or pop up kicking or we need new personnel!

5 points
5
0
PeteK's picture

December 14, 2020 at 10:53 am

My exact thoughts 91, we are terrible at getting off blks on D and sp team.

2 points
2
0
SpikeHyzer's picture

December 14, 2020 at 10:03 pm

No depth on ST right now and EQ is becoming more important on offense (he won't be on ST next year).
He's probably supposed to get down there and impede someone without getting hurt.
They need him more on O.

0 points
0
0
bbarryirish's picture

December 14, 2020 at 10:41 am

JUST WIN BABY !
10-3 Let's go!
Love the chemistry.

4 points
4
0
wildbill's picture

December 14, 2020 at 11:03 am

The difference between a good team and a bad team, in the NFL, is sometimes just a couple players. The Packers have struggled a lot in Detroit, over the years, even with the great Favre teams. To win a road division game is always tough and I never look at records for those games as it seems you can throw them out the window. A solid road win,IMO, against a motivated team in their house as alot are playing for their jobs next year. In spite of our dreadful soft defensive play I feel we can be very dangerous in the playoffs if our ST play was even just average

5 points
5
0
PeteK's picture

December 14, 2020 at 11:22 am

Home field advantage!! I don't agree that the O line was outstanding. Passing was, even though Rogers was hurried a few times against a 4 man rush. Run blocking was mediocre, 3.9 against a less than stellar and beat up D, and this is with some hard and elusive running from our backs. It's just puzzling that we aren't running the ball better with our great passing attack .

1 points
3
2
scullyitsme's picture

December 14, 2020 at 11:25 am

I know I should be happy but I’m dreading the Titans game. If at any point during that game we line up with 6 defensive backs, Pettine should be escorted from the field immediately and checked into the nearest hospital with a non injury related concussion. Which I never knew existed until I saw fox scolling it about frank gore Sunday.

4 points
5
1
MITM's picture

December 14, 2020 at 11:32 am

This. Yes

0 points
0
0
theButlerdidit's picture

December 14, 2020 at 04:28 pm

It sure would be nice if Preston Smith would make more than one play a game.

0 points
0
0
charlesvane1's picture

December 17, 2020 at 06:27 am

Fun game!

0 points
0
0