The Green Bay Packers defeated the Detroit Lions Sunday by a score of 31 – 21 and in doing so handed the Lions the dubious distinction of becoming the only team in NFL history to finish the season 0 – 16. The win was bittersweet though because with the Packers’ 6 – 10 record, no one at 1265 Lombardi Avenue or in the worldwide Land of Cheese can be happy with the disappointing 2008 season.
The Packers jumped out to a 14 – 0 lead on a 73-yard touchdown run by seldom-used running back DeShawn Wynn and a touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to rookie tight end Jermichael Finley. The Lions could have thrown in the towel but to their credit they clawed their way back into this game assisted by some costly mistakes by the Packers. Packer receivers dropped five passes on the day and a costly fumble by Ryan Grant led to a Lion comeback.
But the Packers have a large cache of offensive firepower. Rodgers had his best performance of a very good year. With over 300 yards passing against the Lions, Rodgers advanced his season totals to over 4,000 yards. Four thousand yards passing is considered a benchmark for elite NFL quarterbacks and with 28 touchdowns versus 13 interceptions in his first year as a starter, the Packers have a very good young quarterback with a bright future.
In the fourth quarter the Packers proved to be too much for the Lions. Rodgers hit on two touchdown passes, the last of which was a 71-yard bomb to Donald Driver to put the game away. Driver’s performance put him over 1,000 yards this year joining Greg Jennings in that elite group.
The Packers juggled their offensive line in this game with three players starting at “new” positions which seemed to benefit the running game. Running backs Grant and Wynn both finished the game with over 100 yards rushing.
All of the offensive accomplishments of the day need to be tempered by the fact that the opponent was the hapless Lions.
Nonetheless, the Packers have a win to build upon as they regroup and plan for the 2009 campaign. Ted Thompson will have some tough decisions to make this off-season as the regression from last year’s performance is addressed. No doubt Thompson will evaluate the same disturbing and re-occurring problems that Cheeseheads witnessed this season. Firing underachieving coaches and replacing unproductive players is a necessary consequence of a losing NFL season. Let’s hope that Thompson is smart enough to recognize some of his own mistakes and remedy them.
The next step is the evaluation of the talent pool of next spring’s collegiate talent. The draft is always an interesting adventure, and for some of us who live and die green and gold the draft is almost as exciting as opening day itself. Thompson will also be under pressure this year to delve more into the free agency market this spring, something he maybe should have done more so last season.
Happy New Year to all and be consoled my fellow Cheeseheads…. the Pack WILL be back!
Talk back! Tell us what you think of this year’s teams. What would you do if you were in charge?
Go to winonapost.com, click on Football Forum to discuss this year’s season.