It was a long day for Detroit.
The Detroit Lions' losing streak at Lambeau Field swelled to 23 games, as the Lions went down to the Green Bay Packers 22-9.
The positive for Detroit was it only allowed Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers to throw one touchdown in the game—the negative was that Matthew Stafford tossed the Lions’ lone TD with about 58 minutes of the game completed.
It wasn’t quite the shootout that was expected between the NFC North rivals, as both teams’ defenses shined Sunday.
Now, we’ll look at five factors that led to Detroit’s loss to the Packers.
Megatron was inactive Sunday against the Packers
The title explains why Detroit’s offense struggled.
Calvin Johnson sat out Sunday’s game with a knee injury and the offense of the Lions struggled without him. Matthew Stafford was 25-of-40 for just 222 yards and a late touchdown.
Without “Megatron” in the game to keep the Green Bay defense guessing, Detroit’s offense became stagnant and unable to produce anything other than punts.
One of the top offenses in the NFL was the opposite in Green Bay. Detroit managed just 286 yards for the game—well below its average for the season.
There’s no question that Stafford and the Lions’ offense missed Johnson in this game.
Stafford was sacked five times Sunday.
An O-line which had been very reliable throughout the first four games didn’t provide much protection against Green Bay's pass rush.
Prior to Sunday’s loss, Matthew Stafford had been sacked three times—not the case against the Packers. Stafford was brought down five times—it's hard to get any offense going when you can’t get off a pass.
Green Bay’s secondary did a great job of keeping Detroit’s pass-catchers covered, giving its D-line time to break down the pass protection of the Lions and put Stafford on his back.
While most of the sacks were not big hits, the Lions cannot allow No. 9 to be pummeled like he was Sunday. The pass protection of Detroit needs to improve so that Stafford can remain healthy for the season.
Bush was ineffective against the Packers.
No one missed Calvin Johnson more than Reggie Bush and the run game of Detroit.
In a Week 2 loss against the Arizona Cardinals, the Lions struggled on offense when Bush left the game after taking a helmet to the knee. A lack of the run game would hinder the Lions once again.
Instead of running through holes in the D-line of Green Bay, Bush and Joique Bell were greeted with a sea of Packers to stuff them at the line of scrimmage. The pair of running backs combined for only 65 yards on 18 carries.
Without Johnson taking on double-teams or providing decoys for his team, the Packers were able to stifle the run game of the Lions and make it nearly irrelevant on Sunday.
James Jones came up big for Green Bay.
If Detroit was expecting to earn a victory on the road, it could have done without the big gains by the Packers. The Lions gave Green Bay too many highlight plays.
Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb exploded for a 67-yard run.
Yes, you read that right: wide receiver, 67-yard run.
James Jones torched the Lions' secondary for an 83-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter that gave the Packers a cozy 16-3 lead.
Jordy Nelson had a great 31-yard catch, which built momentum for the Packers' offense, and Eddie Lacy was a reliable option out of the backfield for Green Bay the entire game.
While Detroit’s defense only allowed one TD, it gave up five field goals—some of those Green Bay field goals could have been turned into punts had the Lions’ secondary come up with a few more stops.
Plays such as those mentioned above cannot be allowed by Detroit’s defense in the future.
Aaron Rodgers was composed on Sunday.
“The Bad Man” Aaron Rodgers played well after the Packers’ bye week: He was poised in the pocket and managed to stay accurate for most of the game.
There were a few occasions where the Lions’ pass rush nearly brought Rodgers down, but his composure, pocket presence and precision allowed him to escape and find open targets despite the pressure.
Rodgers did not throw any interceptions in the game—against a defense that reeled in eight picks in four games, I expected a couple of interceptions.
Rodgers completed 20 of 30 passes for 274 yards and a touchdown. Any time the defense of the Lions came up with big stops, Rodgers and the Packers came back with big plays.
Those highlight plays destroyed any hopes of a Detroit comeback, and though the defense kept Rodgers and Green Bay’s offense out of the end zone all but one time, it was unable to keep the Packers out of scoring range.