Packers vs. Lions: Instant Grades and Analysis for Green Bay
Aaron Rodgers connected with Randall Cobb to give the Packers a 21-20 lead late in the game after struggling much of the game. It was a sloppy game from both teams, but the Packers outlasted and earned the win.
Let's take a look at the Packers' final postgame grades and evaluations.
Rodgers struggled on the afternoon, but did just enough to help the Packers edge out a tough division win. He missed a number of throws and threw an awful interception, but matched those with a few MVP-caliber throws. With the game on the line, Rodgers showed why he's the best quarterback in the league.
James Starks helped the Packers build on a strong rushing performance two weeks ago. Starks' numbers don't look that impressive with a 3-yard per carry average, but he consistently picked up that yardage without many negative plays.
Kuhn didn't get many opportunities on the afternoon, carrying the ball just one time for a loss of a yard. He did play fine when in the game, but didn't have a real impact one way or the other.
Green saw the field on some third downs, but didn't have an opportunities. He seems to have lost his carries to James Starks.
Nelson had a decent game with three catches for 45 yards, but failed to make any big, game-changing plays. While he has had a good year, Nelson seems to do his best work when the whole offense is clicking.
Jones had his first drop of the season and only came up with two catches for 33 yards. His 20-yard catch was big and came with the Packers' offense struggling. Jones has been very reliable this season and his drop shouldn't be concern going forward.
Cobb continues to be one of the Packers' most productive players. He finished the day with 74 receiving yards on nine catches and 19 rushing yards on two carries for a total of 11 touches for 93 yards. Cobb's touchdown catch came on a beautiful adjustment that not many players make consistently.
Driver didn't see the field often, but he took advantage of the one pass thrown his way. He's struggled with drops this season, but hung on and looked shifty on the 12-yard gain.
It wasn't quite a full takeover, but Jermichael Finley came up big with the game on the line. His two catches on the final drive (40 yards and six yards) set up Rodgers' throw to Randall Cobb for the game-winning touchdown. Added to the 20-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, Finley had a great game.
Crabtree was whistled for a false start on the Packers' weird-looking field goal/fake play at the end of the first half, but did a solid job throughout the afternoon. He absolutely blew up a defender on a Randall Cobb run, springing him for a first down.
While the Packers' offensive line struggled, Newhouse's name was rarely called. He gave pretty solid protection and did his best to keep Rodgers off the turf as the best Packers' lineman on the afternoon.
Dietrich Smith struggled in his first start of the season, getting absolutely destroyed by Nick Fairley. While Fairley had his way with the whole offensive line, he did most of his damage against Dietrich-Smith. Fairley finished with seven total tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.
Saturday did better than Dietrich-Smith, but not much better. He was responsible for giving up a ton of pressure in the first half before tightening up in the second half. He did have a clutch fumble recovery on the Rodgers' fumble, but it wasn't enough to save his struggling day.
Sitton uncharacteristically played poorly, giving up pressures and getting whistled for a holding call. There were multiple other players were Sitton could have called for holding as well. Detroit does have a strong defensive line, but Sitton and the Packers need to do a better job.
Lang got his first start of the season at right tackle and did okay in the position. He didn't play extremely well, but part of that can be chalked up to playing at a new position. While Lang hasn't been flawless, he has done his part to replace Bulaga.
Raji got one pressure early in the game and completely went missing before limping off the field late in the game with an injury. Raji has struggled this season and this game was more of the same. Raji needs to be better as much of the Packers' pressure has come from their outside linebackers.
Pickett had a great game, getting pressure and helping the Packers' to somewhat contain Mikel Leshoure, who had most of this rushing yards outside the tackles. Pickett didn't officially register a sack, but he was right there on Davon House's sack and forced the Morgan Burnett sack.
Wilson got little pressure on the afternoon and didn't come up with any tackles. He needs to have more of an impact on the game and make his presence felt.
Daniels had one of his better games of the season, getting pressure on the quarterback. He got a decent amount of playing time, replacing Mike Neal after Neal gave the Lions a first down with an offsides penalty.
Neal struggled to get it going after coming into the ballgame. He couldn't get pressure and gifted the Lions a first down on a 3rd-and-5 by jumping offsides.
Hawk was extremely active, coming up with 10 total tackles on the afternoon. He didn't come up with any big plays, but his consistency down the stretch helped the Packers keep the Lions' from scoring late in the game.
Jones was whistled for two 15-yard penalties, one roughing the passer and one facemask. Those are penalties that just can't happen. On the roughing call, Jones had no reason to put his hands on Stafford's head, but followed through right into them. Whether you agree with the call or not, Jones put himself in position to allow that call to be made.
Moses had an incredible game, starting in the place of the injured Clay Matthews. Moses finished the game with a sack and a forced fumble. He also got pressure on Stafford and forced an overthrow on what would have been a touchdown to Calvin Johnson. Moses did a nice job of filling the void left by Matthews.
What a turn around from Walden. He has consistently been a threat at outside linebacker and definitely earned his minutes. A handful of pressures and two sacks from Walden definitely helped keep the Lions out of the end zone at times.
Zombo got his first action of the season, but wasn't able to have a big impact. It will likely take Zombo a while to get his feet wet, but it was nice to see him out there being injured for so many weeks.
Hayward put together another very strong performance. Hayward had a number of pass deflections and came up with another interception. He has continued to improve and looks like he has a very bright future with the Packers.
Williams struggled in the first half with Calvin Johnson, but did a much better job in the second half. While Johnson put up 143 yards, he didn't control the game in a way that he is capable of doing. Williams can do better, but it wasn't awful.
House had a strong game coming up with a couple pass deflections and a sack. He looks more and more comfortable playing with a shoulder harness. With more and more snaps, House should get better down the stretch.
Burnett should have had an interception on Johnson's touchdown pass, but whiffed badly. Despite that mistake, Burnett had a strong game with nine total tackles including a sack that forced a Lions' field goal.
Jennings came up with one of the biggest plays of the game on his first (should be second) interception of the season. Jennings did an impressive job of returning the pick 72-yards for the score. He showed some elusiveness that could be useful if the Packers suffer from special teams injuries.
McMillian played well down the stretch, coming up with big plays to seal the game. He batted down the fourth-down heave that Stafford threw and intercepted the lateral that Calvin Johnson tossed to try to keep the game alive.
Crosby's slump has gotten worse, missing two field on the day. Both came from long distance, but the way he missed and the body language following the misses told enough of the story. He did connect on the final field goal, but things need to change in the coming weeks.
Masthay delivered another great performance, punting four times for an average of 44 yards per punt. He dropped two of his punts inside the 20-yard line, helping to shift field position for the Packers.
The Lions did a great job against Randall Cobb limiting him to 17 yards per kick return and no punt returns. Cobb needs to be more dangerous than that. He has all the talent to make plays on special teams, but just wasn't able to get it done today.
The Packers didn't look sharp coming out of their bye week. That's uncharacteristic of a McCarthy team, but part of that could be the extra time off to heal from all the various injuries. Overall, there were too many penalties and a lack of focus that almost cost the Packers the game. McCarthy needs to tighten everything up as the Packers head down the stretch.
Capers' defense struggled in the first half to contain Calvin Johnson, but did a better job in the second half of not letting Johnson beat them. He still put up numbers, but his impact wasn't felt nearly as much with one catch before the final play of the game.
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