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Packers 37, Detroit 26

Another big week, another big win. The thing that has remained consistent in nearly every win is that they avoid turnovers and teams are unable to stop the passing offense. QB Brett Favre said in a post game interview that the big difference this season is that he is making better decisions. I never expected him to change his gunslinging ways, but so far this season he has done it. However there is a big reason for the change; the entire team is playing better. When the offense has struggled, like it did against Chicago (2nd half) and Washington, Favre started forcing it and threw 3 of his 8 INTs this season during those six quarters. Fortunately Detroit had no answer for stopping him and the Packers roll into next week with the same 10-1 record as Dallas. This game probably seals the division crown too because Detroit really needed that win to make a run at it. Now without the tiebreaker of beating the Packers twice, the Packers can only lose the division if they lose 5 of their next 6 (very unlikely) and Detroit win their next 6 games (a real long shot with their brutal schedule down the stretch.)

One big downer in this game was all the injuries.  It seems likely that all the players injured on Thanksgiving will play next Thursday at Dallas, except backup DT Colin Cole. With S Aaron Rouse now in the starting lineup, that list includes 5 starters who were knocked out in the game, plus pseudo-starter DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila who plays as much, if not more, at defensive end as actual starter DE Cullen Jenkins.

First Half

  • It was really surprising how well Detroit ran against the Packers. Few big runs, and it got better as the game went on because LB Nick Barnett was filling the running lanes. This is the second week in a row that a poor rushing team ran well against them.
  • That penalty on C Dominic Raiola was a killer, took Detroit off the goal line, and held them to a field goal.
  • QB Jon Kitna was sacked three times on 3rd down within field goal range. They still were able to kick two field goals, but he did a poor job of getting rid of the ball when he knew there would be pressure and he couldn't afford a sack.
  • Despite the sacks, K Jason Hanson still made all his long field goal attempts. That makes it 17 of 18 field goal attempts made against the Packers in 2007, after opponents made 26 of 27 in 2006. That's not bad special teams, that's just bad luck.
  • Favre's fumble really scared me because the only way Detroit could win is if their opportunistic defense forced turnovers and turned them into points. Favre tripped on LG Daryn Colledge's foot and fumbled the handoff to RB Ryan Grant, but that was the only turnover in the game.
  • Once Detroit lost their starting RT, it was a highlight reel for DE Aaron Kampman. He beat the snot out out of the backup although the tackle looked about 50 lbs. heavier than him. He bull rushed him into Kitna and onto the ground on several plays.
  • That was a great punt return by CB Charles Woodson, but unfortunately he got hurt. He's played through a number of minor injuries over the last two seasons, so hopefully that doesn't keep him down too long.
  • S Aaron Rouse had a big interception to set up the first score. It was a lazy route by WR Charles Johnson, but Rouse made a great play and has been a real surprise in pass coverage. Unfortunately he was hurt in the 2nd half!
  • WR Donald Driver had a big game because it appeared that Detroit played him in single coverage. One of the few teams that didn't swarm him in coverage. Unfortunately he was hurt in the 2nd half!!
  • DT Shaun Rogers is a force in the middle for Detroit, and the Packers spent the game avoiding him. I'm not sure they had a single running play called up the middle all game. When RB Ryan Grant did run, it was usually off tackle, and there were only 3 carries in the first half.
  • The defensive line put a ton of pressure on Kitna, but it did taper off after KGB left with an ankle injury. DE Jason Hunter had one good run on Kitna but he didn't do much in the 2nd half.
Second Half
  • WR Koren Robinson, who's either the 4th or 5th WR, had 50 yards on the first drive after halftime to setup the TD. The Packers have been playing that formation with 5 WRs lately, and it's gotta be a matchup hell when the 5th WR can make a big play and the 4th WR Ruvell Martin can catch a TD.
  • CB Al Harris might not deserve all the credit, but WR Roy Williams was not a factor in the game at all. He couldn't get away from Harris, and Kitna didn't even attempt many passes in his direction.
  • Detroit can't get to Favre, a lot of quick passes and pretty good protection too, and then Grant rips off runs of 27 and 31 yards in the second half for another 100 yard game. Detroit just can't stop it all.
  • After building a 34-12 lead, the Packers let Detroit get back into the game with 2 TD drives. The comeback was a problem, but the injuries played a big part of it. Losing one of your top 2 pass rushers (KGB) and arguably your best CB (Woodson) is going to cause some problems. The Packers didn't get to Kitna like they did in the first half, and Johnson (who was a disaster for Detroit in the 1st half) started making some good catches in the 2nd half once Woodson and Rouse weren't back there in coverage. S Atari Bigby was another part of the problem with another pass interference penalty. The guy plays all out, but when he gets beat it seems like he over-pursues to get back into the play and makes a mistake. He could be a good player since he is just a first year starter and is still learning, but he's a problem right now.
  • The Packers needed a drive to kill the clock and end the game and they did it. I loved the play calling on the drive. They complete three passes, with one run in between, and then when Detroit is expecting pass and not crowding the line, they run Grant 3 times for 36 yards to wind it down to the 2 minute warning.