After their humiliation last week at the hands of the New Orleans Saints, the pressure was on Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to produce the goods against one of the weakest teams in the NFL at the moment, the Detroit Lions.
And after last night’s 35-17 win for the Packers, it is safe to say that the Packers have joined the likes of the Bills, Titans, Ravens and Cowboys as teams that suffered a Week One reverse, but who put things right on the second weekend.
The Packers moved to the top of the NFC North with this win, ahead of the Chicago Bears on the number of points scored, but with the Vikings and Lions foundering, it looks like this once-feared division may be the softest in the NFL at the moment, along with the AFC South.
— NFL (@NFL) September 21, 2021
Tight First Half
Although the Packers win was by some distance, it was only a fine second half defensive display, which shut out the Lions, combined with some laser-like accuracy from Aaron Rodgers that led Green Bay to the victory.
The quarterback finished with 22 completions out of 27 attempts for 255 yards and an impressive four touchdown passes, three of those to Aaron Jones, who also added a rushing touchdown. Robert Tonyan was the other receiver to score, while Davante Adams caught 8 passes for 121 yards.
On defense for the Packers, De’Vondre Campbell had a big night with 10 tackles, three assists and one interception. Adrian Amos backed him up with nine tackles as the unit shone in the second half.
The Lions took the lead on the first drive of the game when Jared Goff found Quintez Cephus for a 5-yard touchdown. However, the Packers responded in kind on their first drive, with Rodgers finding Aaron Jones from four yards for the first of his four touchdowns.
After both teams punted, both teams then scored on their next possession in the second quarter, Goff finding T.J Hockenson for an 8-yard touchdown, before Green Bay levelled matters with Aaron Jones second touchdown of the night from a 1-yard pass.
Then just before the half, the Lions converted a field goal from 43 yards to head in at the interval leading by three after a tight first half.
Rodgers And Green Bay Find Another Gear
— Sunday Night Football on NBC (@SNFonNBC) September 21, 2021
At this stage of the game, it looked like being a tight second half, but Rodgers and Green Bay found another gear at the interval to leave the Lions in their wake.
Rodgers 22-yard precision bullet to Robert Tonyan on the first drive of the second half put the Packers in front and they did not look back from there, scoring on each of their first three possessions in the second half, while the Lions offence stumbled.
First, after a 50-yard drive, they went for it on fourth and one at the Green Bay 25, but fell short as Goff’s pass to Cephus fell incomplete. It was a call that puzzled many watching, not least the myriad of Detroit fans.
Then if that wasn’t bad enough for the Lions, on their very next possession, Jared Goff fumbled the snap allowing Krys Barnes to recover the ball for Green Bay on the Lions 25-yard line.
So from leading by three, the Lions entered the fourth quarter trailing 35-17 after a nightmare display by their offense in the third quarter.
It didn’t get much better in the fourth either as they punted away their first possession and then Goff was intercepted on the third play of the next drive. Then their final possession saw the Lions turn the ball over on downs as they tried to at least reduce the deficit late in the game.
Next Week Gets Tougher For Both Teams
The win will certainly be a boost to the Packers after the New Orleans debacle, but they will need to be up for it again next week as they are on the road at the Levi Stadium facing the 2-0 San Francisco 49ers.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Lions either as they welcome the Baltimore Ravens to their home Ford Field desperate to land a first win of the season, but unlikely to do so against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, who are 1-1 after their victory over the Chiefs this past weekend.
Whether this is the start of Green Bay taking hold of the NFC North remains to be seen. It is a division they should win, not because they are a hugely talented team, but because of the weakness of their opponents within it.
We will know next week whether they are still a genuine challenger in the NFC, or if Rodgers and company still have a bit of work to do.