The Green Bay Packers won their fifth game in a row Sunday with a comeback victory over the Detroit Lions by a score of 24 – 20. It was a big win for the Green and Gold. With their best defensive player (Clay Matthews III) on the sidelines due to injury, a number of the ascending young Packer defensive players stepped up and took control of this game.
This was another one of those not-so-pretty games with the winner to be determined by a big play or two. The Packer offense wasn’t in rhythm early in this contest. The season-ending injury to tackle Bryan Bulaga last week forced the Packers to insert Evan Dietrich-Smith at left guard and he had a rough day. He wasn’t alone as the offense committed way too many penalties and generally underperformed.
In the second quarter Aaron Rodgers hit Jermichael Finley with a 20-yard touchdown pass, ending a long drought for the beleaguered tight end. Finley wasn’t done as he would deliver two other nice plays later in the game which helped turn the tide. Finley’s confidence is bound to get a bounce from his performance. Just two years ago Finley was the Packers’ primary playmaker but injuries and a bad case of drop footballitis have changed that. Maybe this game will spark a comeback for Jermichael.
While the Packers’ offense sputtered against the Lions, several of the young defensive players displayed their talents. Midway through the third quarter, with the score going back and forth, M.D. Jennings intercepted a pass and ran it back for a 72-yard pick six. Jennings is among a number of ascending young defensive players and that is welcome news for Cheeseheads. Casey Hayward is perhaps the best of these promising youngsters. Davon House, Jerron McMillian, and Dezman Moses all contributed to a fine defensive effort against the Lions. These newcomers have much improved last year’s anemic defense.
With the Packers trailing 20-14 late in the fourth quarter, Rodgers led a drive that would seal the victory. Finley had a nice 40-yard catch and run, and then Rodgers hit Randall Cobb with a 22-yard touchdown pass. The Packers won this game, which the Lions needed desperately, on the road in a noisy, hostile environment. The offense was mostly unimpressive, the place kicker was horrible and in spite of all these things the Packers came back and won to bring their season record to 7-3. Cheeseheads have to be pleased.
One thing that is becoming glaringly bad is the (lack of) performance from placekicker Mason Crosby. Crosby missed two more field goals against the Lions and has been successful on only 61% of his attempts this year, second lowest in the NFL. Packer management is currently standing by their kicker, but something needs to change here and soon.
The Packers travel to New Jersey next week to play the Sunday night game against the Giants as the season heads down the stretch. The Giants are coming off their bye week and have been an up-and-down lot thus far this year. The reigning Super Bowl champions seem to play up to the level of competition thus far this year, so that should make them a formidable and dangerous opponent.
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