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Packers 34, Detroit 13

It's hard to get too excited about a win against the freefalling Lions, but it was nice to see the Packers get back on the winning track. They rebounded from the disaster in Chicago and got back to crushing a non-playoff team. It was important to finish the game without any serious injuries and get the special teams back on track. RB Ryan Grant was knocked out of the game with a stinger, but Mike McCarthy said he could have returned. The injuries to G Jason Spitz and G Junius Coston could be serious but it sounds like CB Will Blackmon will be ok.

It was great to see them reach 13 wins. The team hadn't done it since 1997. Looking back over the team's history it's only the fourth time the team had 13 wins in the regular season (1962, 1996, 1997, and 2007). You might notice that the previous three times it happened the Packers either won the championship or lost in the championship/Super Bowl. That sounds pretty promising. However, if you look at the overall rankings for points, yards, etc. then you'll notice that the 1962 and 1996 teams were pretty special. In 1996 they had the best offense and defense in the NFL, and in 1962 the offense was number 1 while the defense was number 2. The 1997 team wasn't as good and everyone probably remembers that Super Bowl loss. The 2007 offensive and defensive rankings are more comparable to the 2001 and 2003 teams that were bounced in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Although that is a more pessimistic outlook, neither the 2001 or 2003 team had a first round bye either.

Still it was good to win while watching every other NFC playoff team, except Washington, lose (Seattle, Dallas, NY Giants, and Tampa Bay) this weekend. A lot of players rested in those games, but the Packers rested a lot of people too.

First Half

  • The kickoff coverage was awful on the opening kick, but it was the only sour note for the special teams all game.
  • The offense wasn't doing anything special, but it was an easy TD drive. It probably is a sign that Detroit wasn't into this game when QB Brett Favre rips off a 21 yard run which was about 20% of his total rushing yards for the season.
  • INT by S Atari Bigby. He's had some big games, especially at St. Louis, by being at the right place at the right time. Sometimes he's the beneficiary of a timely bounce or bobble. Overall he isn't good in pass coverage. However this INT was a great play, reading the QB and cutting off the pass.
  • Favre plays for just under 16 minutes and leads the offense on three TD drives. I was really expecting Detroit to play hard to show some pride in their season and try to reach the .500 mark overall, but they didn't show up today.
  • CB Tramon Williams had a great game. He had a great reaction to the tipped ball for the INT, but he also played tight in coverage throughout the game. He's still safely the 5th or 6th CB depending on whether he should be ahead of CB Frank Walker, but it's good to know that he's a good player if he has to come in.
  • QB Craig Nall got to play! It was his first opportunity since 2004 and he even threw a TD pass in the second half. If he hadn't had so much trouble fumbling the snap from center (Twice!) then it would have been a great game for him.
  • Great bounce-back game for P Jon Ryan. No fumbles or blocks, but he also had a 70+ yard punt and most importantly pinned two punts inside the 20 yard line.
  • The defense has had problems within the final two minutes of the first half in the last couple games, and this game was no exception. WR Shaun McDonald was wide wide open, S Nick Collins was in the area but it's not likely he was responsible for coverage, on a slant route for a 30 yard TD pass.
Second Half
  • RB Brandon Jackson rips off a 46 yard run. I was really excited about him during the preseason. His stats weren't great, but the offensive line's run blocking sucked and you could see that he's is a promissing runner. In his first 10 carries of this game, he was very tentative, making some steps side to side and not finding the holes. After he shook off the rust, he ran much better in the 2nd half. He shouldn't take over for Grant, but he's a good Plan B if necessary.
  • There was only one sack allowed in this game, but there was a lot of pressure on Nall once LT Chad Clifton rested and then after Coston and Spitz were injured. Rookie LG Allen Barbre got his first substantial playing time and OL Tony Moll played for the first time in a few weeks. The pressure didn't settle down until RT Mark Tauscher came back into the game, so any success Detroit had should be avoided with Clifton and Tauscher on the field.
  • This was the third week in a row that penalties were not a problem. All the penalties, especially for personal fouls, were a real problem during the middle part of the season, but it looks like that has been turned around.