The Detroit Lions had only won once in their last 19 games and limped into Lambeau missing their two top players due to injury, so it was no surprise Sunday that they were a 13 ¬Ω point underdog. Cheeseheads were thus not surprised with the 26 ‚Äì 0 outcome, but it was surprising to see how ugly a 26 ‚Äì 0 shellacking could be with all the mistakes the Packers made.
The Packers set the stage by committing 2 penalties in their first three plays of the game. By the time the first quarter was over they were flagged an incredible 6 times and by the end of the day the number totaled 13 penalties for 130 yards. Many of these penalties were the bone-headed type such as false starts, lining up in the wrong place and shenanigans well away from the play. Coach McCarthy keeps talking about cleaning up stupid penalties but they continue to mount. Something is wrong here with the lack of communication between the Packers‚Äô coaching staff and the players.
As mistake-prone as the Packers were, their aerial firepower was way too much for the Lions. Aaron Rodgers could throw the ball at will, which he did. It was a special day for one of my favorite Packers‚Ä¶ Donald Driver, as he caught 7 passes for over 100 yards and in doing so set a new all-time Packer reception record surpassing that of Sterling Sharpe. Equally impressive was the fact that Driver has caught at least one pass in 116 straight games.
Rodgers threw for two touchdowns and Mason Crosby connected on 4 of 4 field goals and the route was on. To illustrate how imbalanced this game was, the Packers racked up 435 total yards while the Lions managed only 149. The later was to the credit of the Packer defense. Starting his first professional game, outside linebacker Clay Mathews was all over the field and contributed two sacks. Mathews was the Packers‚Äô second first-round pick in the 2009 collegiate draft. Somewhat surprisingly, Mathews is thus far having a much greater impact than is fellow first-round pick, B. J. Raji.
It is difficult to criticize a team that has just routed their opponent too much but here comes some more. The Packers‚Äô offensive line was again unable to open up holes for the running game and allowed another five sacks on the quarterback, bringing the season total to 25! Chad Clifton returned to his role at left tackle after a couple weeks with a bad ankle and was just horrible. He committed a number of the aforementioned boneheaded penalties. Late in the game he re-injured his ankle and was replaced by rookie T. J. Lang. Cheeseheads might be seeing a lot more of Lang as Clifton appears to be washed up.
But enough of the criticism‚Ä¶
I am sure that Coach McCarthy will tell the squad that they will have to play much better football than they did Sunday if they have expectations of competing for a play-off spot. Next week the Packers travel to Cleveland where they should again be heavy favorites to whip the Browns. The Brownies this year are only a half-notch above the Lions, but they commit far fewer penalties than the Packers do‚Ä¶ so you never know what will happen.
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