Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions: Full Lions Report Card for Every Position
This was one of the most impressive and dominant performances by a Lions team in a long, long time. Detroit dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, often making the Packers look amateurish.
The win pushed the Lions into first place in the NFC North with a 7-5 record, while dropping the Packers into third place at 5-6-1.
Detroit next travels to Philadelphia for a critical date with the Philadelphia Eagles. A win there would give the Lions playoff tiebreaker advantages against both Dallas and Philadelphia, the two teams tied for the NFC East lead at 7-5.
Before we get to the grades, here are some quick notes on my criteria:
- I hold more prominent players to a higher standard. It's a subjective scale based on expectations versus the given opponent.
- Impact plays have a big impact on grades. Touchdowns, sacks, big blocks and turnovers weigh heavily as positives, while missed tackles, penalties and fumbles rack up negative marks.
- These are based on my initial notes from the original broadcast, though this week I was able to watch the game again.
Without further ado, here are the grades...
The Detroit quarterback had a more balanced game against Green Bay. Stafford finished 22-of-35 for 330 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He also lost a fumble on a strip-sack where he was unaware of the rush.
The two interceptions were both errors in judgment, which are problematic. Yet they stem from his overriding confidence in his arm and the ability of his receivers, which also facilitates so much of what he does well. His mechanics were more consistent in this one.
It was quite an eventful Thanksgiving for Mr. Bush. He earned a flaming "F" for his first-quarter fumble in the red zone. After that, he wore a giant silver "A" for his 117 yards rushing and 65 receiving yards. As I wrote in the weekly takeaways, Reggie atoned for his early sin.
He just missed the century mark, netting 94 yards on 19 carries. One of those wound up in the end zone for a touchdown. Bell also caught three balls in front of his hometown crowd, and his energy was outstanding. Once again, he broke a great deal of tackles, six by my count.
In limited action, the rookie caught one pass for five yards. He lined up exclusively as an outside receiver in this game.
"Megatron" caught six passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. That's a pretty solid day for most wideouts but seems almost pedestrian for Johnson. He lost a jump ball in the end zone to Sam Shields, which is partly on Stafford as well. The Packers coverage most of the day was so egregious that it's hard to judge Johnson one way or the other.
Ross extracted payback on the team which dumped him after a Week 4 fumble. He had his best day as a pro, as I chronicled in the postgame summary. He wins the "Hidden Hero" award for the week.
"Mr. Lionblood" did not catch a pass in his second game back from his broken arm. The Lions did not need him in this game, thankfully. I did note solid run blocking on his part.
He caught three of the seven passes thrown his way, netting 68 yards. Durham was guilty of a personal foul on a interception thrown his way as well. Yet he salvaged some points with very effective blocking, notably on a pair of quick throws to the running backs early in the third quarter.
After not seeing a pass thrown his way in over a month, Ogletree capped off Detroit's day with a 20-yard receiving touchdown. Despite seeing few snaps, he also merited two mentions in my notes for blocking. Packers corner Tramon Williams is not going to like the game tape of his effort on one of those.
Pettigrew had one of his hit-and-miss games that have pockmarked his Detroit career. There were two penalties and a blown block that resulted in a rare hit on Stafford. He had as many drops as receptions, with one of each, and gained just six yards.
Yet Pettigrew's run blocking in the second half was bone-crushing. He also didn't take the bait when a Packers defender tried to goad him after a play ended.
How do you know it was a great day for the Lions? Joseph Fauria earned raves in my notes for not one but two pancake blocks. Those might be the first two pancakes in his life that didn't have syrup on them. It compensates for not catching a pass.
Dickerson saw his first offensive action, and the hybrid wide receiver/tight end hauled in his first reception of the season. If he can offer the sort of separation he got on his 26-yard catch-and-run on a crossing route, the Lions offense is that much more dangerous going forward.
The burly left tackle had exactly one bad play, but it was a costly one. He was beaten cleanly around the edge by Nick Perry for a strip-sack that produced Green Bay's only touchdown.
For the rest of the game, he was arguably the best player on the field. His run blocking was some of the most devastatingly effective work I've seen in over 30 years of watching football. Reiff did not allow Perry or Clay Matthews another sniff of Matthew Stafford's cologne either.
Sims is at his best when going unnoticed. That was largely the case for the veteran left guard, though he did make the notes for getting out to the second level and engaging nicely. An early false start cost him a top grade, however.
In his 200th game as a Lion, the center once again proved his 13th season is his best. He's struggled in the past with odd-man fronts and beefier defensive tackles like Green Bay's B.J. Raji but not on this day. His quickness to pull out in front of stretch runs was impressive.
He's not likely to win the award, but once again the right guard forcibly demonstrated he merits consideration for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Warford might be the best run-blocking guard in the league already, and he showed off why in this game. Repeatedly.
It's a good thing I watched the game twice, because my initial notes did not mention Waddle much after a good blitz pickup on the opening Lions drive. He shut down Clay Matthews almost every single time the Pro Bowl linebacker tried to get past him to Stafford.
Matthews beat him once and impacted Stafford one other time, but Waddle stayed engaged. Warford made up for that by planting Matthews onto his butt on consecutive runs in the fourth quarter. Not bad for an undrafted rookie.
I'm going to deviate from the norm here in deference to how this unit chose to be introduced to the Ford Field crowd. Instead of individual names, they took the field as a group.
That cohesion showed on every single play.
Every player on the unit earned an "A."
It was the best game of the season for reserve ends Israel Idonije and Devin Taylor, both of whom recorded sacks and consistently bested the Packers' blocking attempts.
Ndamukong Suh racked up a safety as part of one of his most impressive games as a pro. Rookie end Ziggy Ansah tossed in two sacks for the second week in a row. Willie Young and C.J. Mosley both recovered fumbles.
Even though Nick Fairley barely made a dent in the stat sheet, his anchoring against the run spearheaded yet another suffocating effort by the rushing defense.
What really cements the universal "A," however, is the goose egg in the penalty column. They were called dirtbags by Packers guard Josh Sitton, but they did not take the bait. That's as impressive as the way they thoroughly destroyed the Green Bay offense.
Levy picked off his sixth interception of the season, which vaults him into the league lead. That's ridiculous production for a linebacker.
He got a paw on two other passes and once again played excellent in coverage situations. Levy was also reliable against the run, though truthfully, he had little to do there. A personal-foul penalty—which was a tough but correct call—drops his grade by half a letter.
The veteran once again had some issues in quickly picking up his pass-coverage assignments, but the Packers couldn't exploit it. His run defense was once again outstanding, attacking up the field with controlled aggression and good form.
He didn't play a lot, but Palmer performed well in his role. Palmer only plays when the opponent has either two tight ends or two backs behind the quarterback, yet he still managed to make two tackles and blew up a potential screen pass.
The way this game played out was tailor-made for Mathis. He usually struggles with quicker receivers going down the field, but because the Packers never had time to look deep, Mathis was off the hook. There really wasn't much else for him to do.
The slot corner had some struggles with underneath coverage, but the kid stayed in the picture enough that no big plays resulted. He earned one holding penalty and should have been flagged for another.
The second-round pick has flashed ability but has been visibly lacking confidence in his rookie campaign. This effort should help his fledgling confidence. Slay was patient and sticky in coverage. He was also quite good at tackling.
Slay did get beat once on a late route by James Jones, but he was in good position to make the play; Jones happened to make a better one. I draw a lot of positives for the future of Darius Slay from this game.
When he's playing with effervescent confidence, Delmas is a very good player. He was oozing it in this game, including his first sack since 2010. I never noted him out of position in coverage, which is a welcome change from his usual play against Green Bay
Quin didn't get the credit for a sack on a great blitz, but he caused it. A penalty was washed out as offsetting. Because the guys in front of him so thoroughly dominated the run, there really wasn't a lot for Quin to do in this one.
The punter and kickoff specialist had a bad day. Two kickoffs earned penalties when they crossed the sidelines before the end zone. One of those in a game is an excusable bad bounce, but two in the same game is trouble.
Martin redeemed himself somewhat with a high punt that pinned the Packers back inside their own 5, which looks a lot better than the 33-yard gross average would indicate.
He missed a 31-yard field goal just before halftime. That's simply not acceptable, certainly not while the game was still very much in doubt. Akers should expect some competition in practice this coming week.