It will not be a pleasant Thanksgiving for the families of the Packers players, coaches, and front office execs. While optimism was high around Green Bay that Matt Flynn could lead the team to an upset over division rival Detroit, the Packers endured one of the worst all-around performances in franchise history.
The Lions started the game with the ball, methodically moving toward the end zone. Calvin Johnson twice victimized Sam Shields and could have had a third reception if not for a Matthew Stafford underthrown ball. The drive was ultimately unfruitful for Detroit, however, as Clay Matthews stripped Reggie Bush near the goal line, saving a score. It was Matthews' third forced fumble of 2013.
From the outset, the Lions defensive line bottled up Eddie Lacy and the running game. Lacy gained only 13 yards on 7 carries in the first half, with his only good run coming behind left guard Josh Sitton. Matt Flynn similarly struggled as he under-threw several receivers while missing a wide open Andrew Quarless on several plays.
On Detroit's second possession, it was the running backs that punished Green Bay. The situation became so dire that safety Morgan Burnett was rolled off of Calvin Johnson in order to bolster the run defense. Fortunately for the Packers, their defense stiffened again in the red zone, holding the Lions -- who had been averaging over eight yards per play -- to a field goal.
Momentum swung the Packers' way on the following series. Detroit gave the Packers good field position with a kickoff out of bounds. Packers capitalized with a big completion to James Jones and a 54-yard field goal by Mason Crosby. On the Lions' next drive, the newly healthy Nick Perry strip sacked Matthew Stafford with Morgan Burnett scooping up the loose ball for a touchdown.
Detroit's troubles continued, with Tramon Williams picking off a Stafford pass intended to Kris Durham. Durham was flagged for a facemask penalty on the tackle, setting up Green Bay at their 34-yard line.
The wind quickly left the Packers' sails, though. The offense failed to capitalize on Tramon's takeaway by going three and out. The Lions offense regrouped, and again drove down into the red zone. Stafford managed to hit former-Packer Jeremy Ross for the touchdown to tie the game up at 10.
Ross wasn't done. To start the Lions' next possession, Jeremy Ross broke a tackle by Davon House to launch himself for a big gain that set the Lions up at the Packers' 33. Two plays later, Bush broke free for a 23-yard scamper, setting Detroit up at the Packers' 1-yard line. He ran the ball in on the following play, putting the Lions up 17-10.
Things only got worse for Green Bay before the half. Evan Dietrich-Smith rolled up on T.J. Lang's foot, hurting his right knee in the process. He was done for over a minute and then walked off the field. Soon after, he was on the cart headed for the locker room.
The Packers didn't fare much better in the second half.
They opened with another three-and-out as the offensive line yielded yet another sack. At this point in the game, Flynn had as many completions as sacks (four). After the punt, Detroit gashed the Packers multiple times on multiple throws to Calvin Johnson. Shields managed to prevent a Megatron touchdown with a nice batted ball in the end zone. Unfortunately for Green Bay, Johnson turned a short catch into a touchdown run just one play later.
The Packers' next possession was a short one as Flynn fumbled the ball back to Detroit on the first play from scrimmage. The Lions looked to score quickly, but Stafford threw an ill-advised pass which was picked off by Shields in the end zone. Calvin Johnson came up gingerly after the play. Johnson would return later in the game.
The Packers and Lions exchanged several short possessions until the Lions sacked Matt Flynn in the end zone for a safety late in the third quarter. After the safety punt, Stafford hit Kris Durham for a 36-yard gain. Bell followed with a 19-yard run to the 1 yard line. He ran it in for the score two plays later to make it 33-10, giving the Lions 29 unanswered points.
The back-and-forth continued, with the Lions piling up over 500 yards on the ground. Late in the fourth, Stafford found Kevin Ogletree on a back shoulder throw to extend the lead to 40-10. Mike McCarthy called off the horses at that point. Of note was the decision to bring on Derek Sherrod to replace Don Barclay at right tackle. Sherrod had not played a live snap in over two years.
The loss pushes the Packers a game and a half back of the NFC North lead. Even if Aaron Rodgers can return for week 14's matchup with the Falcons, it'll be a tough road back to the playoffs.