I was nervous the entire first quarter while watching the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving. The Lions had a quick 7-0 lead, and the Packer offense had already stalled once before they missed a FG attempt. I was wondering if this was going to be like their last loss in Tampa. But once QB Matthew Stafford threw his first INT, and QB Aaron Rodgers completed a 68 yard pass to WR Donald Driver to end the 1st quarter, I wasn't nervous anymore.
The Lions weren't exactly a big test for the Packers, they beat them in most major categories like points, yards (422 to 272), time of possession (33:59 to 26:01), and turnovers recovered (5 to 2). But I'm not a big believer in tests, or teams having to prove something. I believe in wins against any team they play, as they right now control their own destiny for a wild card playoff spot. And also stay healthy, which is something they did a good job of on Thanksgiving.
The complete play-by-play recap is after the jump.
Play-by-play from NFL.com:
4-J.Hanson kicks 71 yards from DET 30 to GB -1. 87-J.Nelson to GB 21 for 22 yards (75-T.McBride). FUMBLES (75-T.McBride), RECOVERED by DET-57-J.Dizon at GB 20. 57-J.Dizon to GB 20 for no gain (87-J.Nelson).
And they started the game with a thud. The special teams were awful, committing 4 penalties (1 intentional 4th quarter delay of game), and 2 big kick returns could have even been bigger if not for saving tackles by TE Spencer Havner and K Mason Crosby.
(14:23) 9-M.Stafford pass short right to 84-B.Pettigrew pushed ob at GB 6 for 12 yards (50-A.Hawk).
It was interesting that this was their first pass play. The Lions must have seen something they liked because they threw 13 passes to their tight ends, usually out in the flat. None of them were big plays, but Stafford completed 9 of them, so they were just about as successful as anything they did on offense. Unfortunately this was the last one for rookie TE Brandon Pettigrew. He suffered a season ending knee injury on the play.
(13:07) 9-M.Stafford pass short right to 81-C.Johnson for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN.
Instead of taking advantage of the LBs in coverage against the tight end, the Lions decided to force 12 passes to an obviously hurting WR Calvin Johnson. This was their biggest offensive play of the game, and maybe it gave them false hope that Johnson could have a big game. Instead, it just might have made CB Charles Woodson very angry.
(12:16) 25-R.Grant right tackle to GB 32 for 15 yards (41-W.James).
This was a good run in a game with few good runs. RB Ryan Grant should have had a big game against a weak Lions run defense, but instead he had a poor game (only 3.1 yards/carry). Four days earlier, he was great against an excellent 49ers run defense.
(4:43) 2-M.Crosby 43 yard field goal is No Good, Wide Right, Center-61-B.Goode, Holder-10-M.Flynn.
More lousy special teams. As good as this drive was, the Packers were forced to convert four times on 3rd down and they went 3 for 4. It seemed odd since the Packers weren't taking any shots down field against a defense that was torched 4 days earlier. 10 minutes into the game, down 7-0, and I'll admit I was a little nervous.
(1:27) (Shotgun) 9-M.Stafford pass short right intended for 89-W.Heller INTERCEPTED by 36-N.Collins at GB 26. 36-N.Collins ran ob at GB 26 for no gain.
(:13) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass deep right to 80-D.Driver to DET 7 for 68 yards (25-M.White).
What a way to end the quarter. The Packers were still down 7-0 at this point, but after watching them force an INT and 3 plays later attack the awful Lion secondary, it felt like they had turned the corner.
(15:00) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass short right to 86-D.Lee for 7 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
(14:26) 34-K.Smith left tackle to DET 34 for 4 yards (36-N.Collins).
There were a few times in the game when RB Kevin Smith got a cutback lane, and it looked like he could bust out for a big gain. But there was always a Packer there to tackle him, and Smith didn't have a single carry for more than 6 yards. Everyone on defense did their part on run defense.
(8:24) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete short middle to 88-J.Finley. GB-88-J.Finley was injured during the play. His return is Probable. PENALTY on DET-26-L.Delmas, Unnecessary Roughness, 15 yards, enforced at DET 40.
(8:19) 12-A.Rodgers pass short right to 88-J.Finley to DET 16 for 9 yards (25-M.White). PENALTY on DET-25-M.White, Horse Collar, 8 yards, enforced at DET 16.
It was rough going for TE Jermichael Finley on those two consecutive plays. He took one (two) for the team, and set up a 1st and goal, but they settled for a FG.
(5:28) 34-K.Smith up the middle to DET 44 for -4 yards (90-B.Raji).
(4:49) (Shotgun) 9-M.Stafford pass deep left intended for 86-D.Northcutt INTERCEPTED by 38-T.Williams at GB 40. 38-T.Williams pushed ob at GB 46 for 6 yards (86-D.Northcutt).
(1:03) 2-M.Crosby 25 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-61-B.Goode, Holder-10-M.Flynn.
Another good drive ends in a FG (or FG miss). They've been settling for a lot of FGs the past two weeks, but overall they're still about average (scoring a TD about 51% of the time in the red zone). It's a bad trend, but it's hard to call it a problem since the offense is playing so well overall.
(:04) (Shotgun) 9-M.Stafford sacked at DET 48 for -8 yards (52-C.Matthews).
(14:11) (Shotgun) 9-M.Stafford pass short right intended for 80-B.Johnson INTERCEPTED by 21-C.Woodson at DET 38. 21-C.Woodson to DET 38 for no gain (80-B.Johnson). Detroit challenged the incomplete pass ruling, and the play was Upheld. (Timeout #1 at 14:06.)
He had a sack in the 1st half, but the Woodson show got going early in the 2nd half. The 1st of his 2 INTs.
(13:27) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete short right to 86-D.Lee.
Lee had a TD earlier, but he had been dropping some passes in recent games. I'd been wondering if TE Spencer Havner should be playing ahead of him. This play is another drop, and I'm not sure how he'll be going forward.
(12:41) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers sacked at DET 37 for -6 yards (59-J.Peterson). FUMBLES (59-J.Peterson) [59-J.Peterson], RECOVERED by DET-97-J.Hunter at DET 37. 97-J.Hunter to DET 37 for no gain (71-J.Sitton).
LT Chad Clifton left LB Julian Peterson unblocked, while Clifton blocked no one, and it led to the only sack of the game for the Lions on 4th down. Tom Pelissero goes into more detail about why Clifton's decision to leave Peterson unblocked was more complicated then it seemed, and that Rodgers should have gotten rid of the ball quickly since it was an empty backfield and they left no one in to block on a blitz.
(11:06) 12-A.Rodgers pass deep middle to 80-D.Driver to DET 45 for 45 yards (41-W.James).
(9:01) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass short left to 80-D.Driver to DET 31 for 7 yards (23-K.Hobbs).
(6:43) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass short right to 80-D.Driver for 7 yards, TOUCHDOWN [23-K.Hobbs].
A quick 3-and-out by the defense was somewhat wasted after a 51 yard net punt pinned the Packers down at their 10 yard line. But that didn't matter because WR Donald Driver took over. 59 yards alone on the drive, including the TD reception.
(1:31) 12-A.Rodgers pass short left to 89-J.Jones to DET 21 for 4 yards (41-W.James).
(:47) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass short middle to 89-J.Jones for 21 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
Earlier this season, I was ready to write WR James Jones off. He only had a couple catches, and it seemed like Rodgers would only throw to him if he was wide, wide open. But he's become more involved in the offense (15 receptions in the last 4 games) and has 4 TDs on the season. He might never be good enough to start, but now he's doing well as a No. 3 receiver.
(12:35) 7-J.Kapinos punts 57 yards to DET 11, Center-61-B.Goode. 86-D.Northcutt ran ob at DET 25 for 14 yards (51-B.Poppinga).
A conservative drive, the Packers were trying to kill some clock, ended with the Packers' first punt of the game.
(12:02) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 9-M.Stafford pass deep middle to 86-D.Northcutt to GB 22 for 47 yards (38-T.Williams).
If there was one weak link in the pass defense, it was CB Jarrett Bush. WR Dennis Northcutt got behind Bush, and ran away from him for the big gain. All the comments I've read about Bush are usually hoping he'll be released soon, and he didn't do anything in this game to prove to those fans that he's becoming a better defender.
(10:09) (Shotgun) 9-M.Stafford pass incomplete short right to 81-C.Johnson [20-A.Bigby]. Ball thrown away.
(10:05) 25-R.Grant right tackle to GB 1 for no gain (90-G.Jackson).
(9:22) 25-R.Grant right end to GB -1 for -2 yards (26-L.Delmas). FUMBLES (26-L.Delmas), RECOVERED by DET-57-J.Dizon at GB -1. TOUCHDOWN. Green Bay challenged the fumble ruling, and the play was REVERSED. 25-R.Grant right end tackled in End Zone for -1 yards, SAFETY (26-L.Delmas).
A big defensive stop on the 1 yard line leads to a collapse by the run blocking. I'm sure everyone blocking on those two running plays will be hearing it from their coaches next week.
(5:05) 4-J.Hanson 22 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-48-D.Muhlbach, Holder-2-N.Harris.
The drive stalled, but should Detroit have really been settling for a FG? No pass was completed for greater than 13 yards on the drive. They were just daring Stafford to make accurate, short passes. The Packers were going to let them work their way down the field, which was something they hadn't done well all game.
(3:55) (Shotgun) 9-M.Stafford pass short right intended for 81-C.Johnson INTERCEPTED by 21-C.Woodson at DET 38. 21-C.Woodson for 38 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
(2:51) (Shotgun) 9-M.Stafford pass short right to 82-C.Fitzsimmons to DET 41 for 13 yards (21-C.Woodson). Green Bay challenged the fumble ruling, and the play was REVERSED. (Shotgun) 9-M.Stafford pass short right to 82-C.Fitzsimmons to DET 40 for 12 yards (21-C.Woodson). FUMBLES (21-C.Woodson), RECOVERED by GB-21-C.Woodson at DET 41. Referee blew the ball dead.
Unlike their last game against the 49ers, the Packer offense wasn't able to run out the clock. They give the Lions two more chances, and Woodson forced two turnovers (one returned for a TD).