The Packers thoroughly dominated the Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson-less Lions on Sunday. Not only did the Packers shut out the Lions, but they also out-gained them in total yards 435-149; and held onto the ball for over 40 minutes.
In short, this was the Packers' most dominant performance in at least two years; and if the Packers had been able to capitalize on their field position and score touchdowns instead of field goals, they could have easily had 42 points instead of 26.
Although the Packers were clearly the better team, Detroit was hurt by the fact that it was missing its two most important tools on offense. The Lions' defense was also missing three of its four starting defensive linemen.
Despite all this, the Packers didn't play a perfect game by any means.
Here are some of my thoughts on what they did well and what they can still improve on:
Aaron Rodgers had an absolutely phenomenal game. He made the Lions defense look like a high school team going 29-37 for 358 yards and two touchdowns.
This was probably his best game in a Packer uniform. He did have one interception, but that was late in the game.
If a quarterback has a good game, that usually means his receivers did as well. Sunday was no exception.
Donald Driver became the Packers' all-time leading receiver, passing Sterling Sharpe's 594 career receptions. Driver now has 602 receptions after hauling in seven balls for 107 yards on Sunday.
Greg Jennings also chipped in with six catches for 64 yards, and even James Jones made his presence felt, catching a 47-yard touchdown to open scoring.
That said, the Packers definitely still have issues on offense.
First off, the offensive line is absolutely awful. Rodgers was sacked five times Sunday, bringing his total to 25 only five games into the season. Although Rodgers does have the tendency to hold onto the ball too long, this o-line has to improve or Rodgers will be lucky to make it through the season.
Secondly, Ryan Grant still is having issues running the ball. Grant did have 90 yards rushing today, but it came on 24 carries. A three yard average isn't going to cut it. The o-line is partially at fault here as well, but Grant just doesn't seem to have what it takes.
Thirdly, the Packers offense was unable to take advantage of awesome field position. Although Mason Crosby did make four field goals, the Packers would have loved it if those field goals were touchdowns.
This inability to score touchdowns didn't hurt them against the Lions, but if they are playing a better team, it certainly could.
Finally, the Packers committed way too many penalties; 13 penalties for 130 yards is what a team should have in two or three games, not one. Again, this ultimately didn't hurt them against the Lions, but against a better team it probably would.
Defensively, the Packers played their best game under Dom Capers and arguably, one of their best in years.
Green Bay held Detroit to only 10 first downs and didn't let them convert once on third down (0-10) holding the Lions to only 149 yards; including only 71 through the air.
Again, the Lions were definitely hurt by Stafford and Johnson's absence, but Green Bay absolutely shut down the Daunte Culpepper led Lion offense even before he left the game with an apparent leg injury.
The Packers intercepted three passes and pressured the quarterback, whether it was Culpepper or Drew Stanton, all day long. Of the Packers' five sacks, rookie linebacker Clay Matthews recorded two to lead the team.
Even special teams had a good day.
Although Jordy Nelson's touchdown on the opening kickoff was called back for holding, the Packers special teams probably had their best performance of the year.
Mason Crosby was perfect after struggling in the first four games; and Tramon Williams stepped in nicely (1 return, 45 yards) for Jordy Nelson at the punt returner position; after Nelson left the game with a leg injury.
Overall, even though it was only the Lions, the Packers proved what they are capable of when they are all on the same page.
This was definitely an encouraging day for Packers fans.
Overall Grade: A-
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