For a little over a half it looked very much like the Green Bay Packers' week 2 game against the Detroit Lions might be very similar to last week’s loss against the Saints. Fortunately, the offense managed to shake off some of the rust, Randall Cobb established himself as a big part of the offense, and Aaron Jones absolutely dominated.
Detroit jumped out to an early lead as former Wisconsin Badger Quintez Cephus hauled in the game’s first touchdown from Jared Goff, but the Packers countered on the legs of Jones, who had 6 carries for 30 yards on the Packers opening drive and capped it off with a four yard touchdown reception. The Packers leaned heavily on their run game in the first half, in stark contrast to last week where Jones had just 5 carries for 9 yards.
After trading punts, the Lions would come right back down the field as Joe Barry’s defense continued to struggle, resulting in another touchdown, this time to tight end TJ Hockenson giving Detroit a 14-7 lead. Again, the Packers responded with a nice drive set up by Kylin Hill’s kickoff return and nice runs by Jones and AJ Dillon. Jones would once again finish things off with a touchdown reception.
Barry’s defense did allow the Lions to get in field goal range before the end of the half, and Detroit took a 17-14 lead into halftime, but when the teams came back out, the rains came, and Rodgers woke up.
On the opening drive of the second Rodgers hit Davante Adams for a beautiful 50-yard bomb, and followed it up with a 22-yard dart to Robert Tonyan for the touchdown. Crucially, Detroit’s Ifeatu Melifonwu was injured on the Adams reception, and from that point on, the Detroit secondary just couldn’t hold up. In the first half, Rodgers was conservative with his throws, registering a 3.0 ADOT, but for the entire second he broke out the big guns, frequently targeting players downfield, and for the first time this season, getting Randall Cobb involved.
Oh good pic.twitter.com/fPpDeJ9rMA— BadgerNoonan (@BadgerNoonan) September 21, 2021
Cobb would finish with 3 catches for 26 yards and extended several drives, including on a crucial 3rd and 7 on Green Bay’s 4th touchdown drive. Aaron Jones would score his 3rd touchdown of the game, an 11-yard reception from Rodgers, and at that point, the game was in hand. Jones would go on to add a 4th touchdown (after the Packers were bailed out by a questionable pass interference penalty called against Amani Oruwariye attempting to guard Davante Adams), and the Packers were able to coast from there, earning their first victory of the season, and looking like their 2020 selves for at least a half.
The Packer defense held up well in the second half, as Krys Barnes recovered a fumble off an errant snap, De’Vondre Campbell intercepted Jared Goff, and the defense as a unit came up with a key 4th down stop in the 3rd quarter. They were able to pressure Goff, and looked much more cohesive than at any other time this season.
But the night belonged to Aaron Jones, who had 115 combined yards and 4 touchdowns. Davante Adams rebounded with an 8 catch, 121 yard performance and Rodgers’ stat line is reminiscent of his best games, but none of it would have been possible without Jones gashing the Lions on the ground and providing a dangerous, efficient outlet for Rodgers through the air.
The Packers next face Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers on Sunday Night Football, where we will finally get to see if this win is a portent of better things to come, or simply rolling over an overmatched and undermanned opponent.