Jclombardi reviews and grades Packers win over Lions.
Guest senior writer jclombardi @ http://lombardiave.com
Summary: This afternoon, the Packers held on to beat the Lions 28-26 at Lambeau Field. Building on a 21-14, the Packers increased their led to 28-14 after CB Woodson’s interception return for a score. The Packers turned their three forced turnovers into 14 points prevailing when they forced a Detroit punt and running the final 6 minutes 32 seconds off the clock. While the Lions rallied with four straight K Hanson field goals to cut the lead to two points, the Packers used a killing-the-clock final drive. The Packers committed fewer penalties with 3 for 31 yards, but they had four key turnovers to keep the Lions in the game.
Game Balls: QB Rodgers. FB Kuhn. CB Woodson. CB Williams.
Report Card Grades–Good, Bad, & Ugly (LA vs. SE):
Pass Offense—C+ vs B-. With solid protection, QB Rodgers still had a game of two halves. In the first half, he had a perfect 158.3 pass rating going 8 for 9 completions for 131 yards and three touchdowns. In the second half, in the first two of three rare offensive series, these drives ended with bad interceptions. Yet, in the twelve plays final drive to run out the clock, Rodgers regained his composure completing plays of 12 and 15 yards to WR Driver and TE Lee respectively. Also, he scrambled for 16 yards on second-and-13.
Rush Offense—B- vs B. The Packers got 92 yards averaging 4.4 yards. FB Kuhn rushed 9 carries for 39 yards. Running back Jackson had 9 carries for 33 with several good runs. The run blocking was generally steady throughout the game, especially the last drive as the offensive line produced outstanding blocks using guard-center-guard combinations and fullback picking up the linebackers.
Pass Defense—D+ vs C-. The Packers defense had an awful day in coverage. Using a clever anticipation game plan, backup quarterback Hill threw for 331 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Throughout the game, the Lions effectively countered the Packer blitz schemes using tight ends Pettigrew (eight catches, 91 yards) and Scheffler (six catches, 63 yards) exposing the slower Packers linebackers in downfield coverage and making four big third-down plays. LB Hawk simply lacks the complete coverage skills. Meanwhile, LB Barnett blitzes were ineffective. CB Williams was simply awesome in coverage. While CB Woodson’s big interception return for a touchdown was the difference in the game, he missed tackles and allowed several crucial catches including WR Calvin Johnson’s touchdown. Nickel back Bush got beat by Scheffler on a 25 yards pass, but otherwise he did a good job in coverage and special teams. DE Raji, DE Jenkins, and OLB Matthews had a sack each in a hit-and-miss pass rush.
Rush defense—B- vs B-. Again, the Packers rush defense was good excluding the quarterback’s scrambling yardage. QB Hill rushed for a team high 53 yards accounting for a huge chunk of the 123 yards by the Lions. RB Best was limited to 50 yards on 12 carries. Neither LB Hawk nor LB Barnett pressed the line consistently enough or got over the top well enough on outside runs. In addition, Hawk needs to finish better. Rookie DE Neal had a nice impressive debut for a rookie. One was the forced fumble where he knifed through the A-gap and got to RB Best at the mesh point, the point where the quarterback hands the ball to the running back. He used his hands well to keep blockers away. The biggest thing he needs to work on is a counter-move off his bull rush.
Special teams—D- vs D. Excluding the first bad punt, P Masthay had two booming punts of 52 and 50 yards. Meanwhile, the coverage units did their jobs limiting the returners. The problem was KR Nelson who averaged a poor 17.7 yards on seven kickoffs and two key fumbles.
Coaching—D+ vs C-. Head coach/play caller McCarthy went with two head-scratching play calls in third-and-short situations in back-to-back series in the first half. They both fizzled. The first was the run of the plodding Kuhn to the outside on third-and-2. The second was having Rodgers roll out on third-and-1 for a pass to a well-covered Nelson, the only receiver in the formation. Defensive coordinator Capers was simply outcoached, although injuries took away key personnel including LB Chillar, CB Shields, and S Burnett and crippling the defense.
Overall Game—D- vs CBS Sportsline Overall Grade–D-. The Packers nearly lost to a Lions team that was playing its backup QB, committed 13 penalties for 101 yards, threw two INTs (one for a TD) and had a fumble which was converted into a TD. It was not a good day for a defense that gave up 422 yards (299 passing).