5 numbers that tell the story of the Packers-Lions game
The Green Bay Packers got their season back on track with a 35-17 victory over the Detroit Lions in their home opener. The Lions held on for the first two and a half quarters before the Packers could capitalize on their mistakes and walk away.
We saw the Aaron Rodgers last season in that win. He was able to expertly dissect Detroit’s defense with every pullback, hitting his targets for big chunks of yards. Aaron Jones and Davante Adams were also important on Monday night and became the keys to the offense.
Here are five numbers that explain Green Bay’s first win of the season.
Rodgers returned to MVP form after a tough 1 week in Jacksonville. He looked a lot more comfortable in this game as he could pick up the pace early and keep the momentum going throughout.
Rodgers was nothing short of brilliant in the second and third downs, going 16 of 17 in passing attempts for 208 yards and four touchdowns. The incompleteness only arrived at the end of the fourth quarter, when the match was already out of control.
When you have an incredibly efficient quarterback who is comfortable passing on second and third downs, you have a better chance of exhausting defense and demoralizing your opponent as the game progresses. Rodgers looked like a different player than last week. He made difficult throws a number of times and his offensive line kept him in the pocket as the game developed.
Looking at the box score, one would think that a Packers victory was never in doubt. But Green Bay was down 17-14 at halftime, and Goff was 13 for 16 for 137 yards and two scores with a 141.9 passer rating.
After this less than optimal first half, the Packers’ defense became much more stingy and Goff was 13 for 26 in the second half with an interception. Goff saw his passer rating drop from 141.9 at halftime to 97.7 to complete the game.
While Green Bay’s lead forced the Lions to become more one-dimensional, the Packers secondary did a great job defending against the Lions spreaders. Rookie Eric Stokes stood out with his pass break in the Detroit end zone in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter.
The Packers put Za’Darius Smith on IR this week, so the focus will be on Rashan Gary to generate pressure in his high role. Although the former first-round player hasn’t started many games, he has shown great promise as a passer in his limited role.
Gary showed up with a bang on Monday night. He led the team under pressure and won 19.2% of his rushed passing repetitions. Although he didn’t register a sack, winning on those quick reps is a good sign both for Gary and for the team as a whole. With Smith out for a while, Gary must be the one to step in and face the opposing quarterbacks.
Next week he’ll get a great test against the San Francisco 49ers to see how good he is against one of the NFL’s top tackles at Trent Williams, who will protect Jimmy Garoppolo’s blind side.
I strongly criticized the offensive line last week for their passing and running play. The absence of Corey Linsley and David Bakhtiari was felt, and if the offensive line kept the game going like this they would be in for a tough season.
However, this week the O-line upped its pass protection, allowing just six pushes from the 15 it gave up last week. The offensive line barely gave Rodgers enough time to roam the field before throwing in Jacksonville, but he had plenty of time in his pocket against the Lions to do the right reading before triggering a pass.
Green Bay’s offensive line appeared to be in great shape, and we can only expect it to improve with the addition of Bakhtiari protecting Rodgers’ blind side as soon as he comes off the PUP roster.
Watching the game I kept thinking about how Eric Stokes should start Kevin King over. Stokes was very impressive when Goff decided to target him, allowing only one take on his four targets for a total of five yards.
Heading into the offseason, we all knew this team needed a cornerback boost, given the way King played during the NFC Championship. While rookies generally struggle early in their careers, Stokes seemed at ease.
Usually, when you have a cornerback as dominant as Jaire Alexander, teams usually try to get easy picks on the cornerback in front of them. Stokes managed to hold on Monday night. Stokes is currently the third corner corner for this team, but if he continues to play like this he could soon be in contention for a starting role.