Job number one for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday was to escape Ford Field without any major injuries. The team largely succeeded in that mission, seeing only one individual who plays a major role on either side of the football leave with any sort of issue.
Job number two was to keep the offense clicking and work two starting offensive linemen back into football shape heading into the postseason. The team checked that box off as well. David Bakhtiari and Josh Myers both returned to the lineup in Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions and were in the starting lineup, playing most of the first half as the offense scored two touchdowns on four possessions. Both players looked solid, with Bakhtiari showing his traditional exceptional pass-blocking in his first game action since December of 2020.
The reason for the modest goals in the game is that the Packers had already locked up home-field advantage in the playoffs. With the score carrying no impact whatsoever, the Packers brought many of their backups into the game for the second half and sat a few key players who are nursing injuries, notably linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and running back Aaron Jones.
The Packers did play star wide receiver Davante Adams long enough to get him a major milestone, however. Adams came into the game needing 21 yards to tie Jordy Nelson’s franchise record for receiving yards in a single season. He needed less than a quarter to break the mark, setting a new mark with 1,553 yards after a 55-yard performance in the game.
As for the result of the game itself, the Lions’ offense picked on the Packers with some trick plays throughout the game, using multiple pitches and handoffs to yield a pair of touchdowns. One was a 75-yarder from backup wide receiver Tom Kennedy to Kalif Raymond, while Goff found tight end Brock Wright for another long score.
The fourth quarter would be a wild one with the Packers fielding almost a full lineup of backups. Jordan Love would bring the Packers back from behind in the fourth quarter once, throwing a screen to Josiah Deguara for a 62-yard score to take a lead, before the Lions answered back with a touchdown of their own to retake the lead. Love would have a pair of chances inside the two-minute warning to pull the Packers back into the lead, but both drives ended in interceptions — one a tipped ball and one an overthrow under pressure.
That sealed the Lions’ 37-30 victory, one that kept them in the #2 draft pick spot after the Jacksonville Jaguars’ surprising upset of the Indianapolis Colts. But Green Bay’s fate in the playoff seeding remains sealed — they will stay home on a bye next week and host an opponent to be determined during the Divisional Playoffs.
To start the game, Rodgers looked like he was trying to get Davante Adams the franchise single-season receiving yardage record on the very first play, but instead he pulled the football down and found a wide-open Allen Lazard for a big 28-yard gain. Adams would convert a short third down opportunity later on the drive, but the five-yard gain kept him 16 yards short of tying Jordy Nelson’s record of 1,519. An 11-yard gain on third-and-10 left him just five yards shy, and he would stay there for another series as Lazard would bring in a one-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 Packers lead.
Rodgers went 6-for-8 on the drive for 56 yards and the score. Both David Bakhtiari and Josh Myers looked good on the opening series, with Bakhtiari in particular looking like his old self keeping Rodgers’ blind side clean.
The Packers would take over in Lions territory on the next drive thanks to some over-aggressiveness by Dan Campbell and the Detroit coaching staff. Dean Lowry’s third-down sack gave Detroit a 4th-and-13 from their own 35, and the Lions called a fake punt. Jack Fox’s pass to Godwin Igwebuike fell incomplete as Tipa Galeai followed the running back in coverage, and Green Bay started the next drive already in scoring range. The Packers would back up, however, with Jesse Lemonier sacking Rodgers (harmlessly, from an impact perspective) on third down to push Green Bay out of field goal range and force a punt.
Starting from inside their own 10, the Lions reached deep into their bag of tricks for a long touchdown. Jared Goff handed off to Amon-Ra St. Brown on a jet sweep, who pitched to receiver Tom Kennedy coming around from the other side; Kennedy would then loft a deep pass to a wide-open Kalif Raymond, who scampered in for a 75-yard score to tie the game.
Adams would get the Packers’ record on the next play from scrimmage, as he hauled in a 13-yard gain from Rodgers to pass Nelson. The drive would end in a failed fourth-down pass,
Goff and the middle St. Brown brother would hook up on the Lions’ ensuing drive, with Amon-Ra picking up gains of 16 and 21 yards. He would find the end zone at the end of the drive, scoring a 4-yard touchdown on 4th-and-goal as the Lions took a 14-7 lead.
The Packers saw a key player go down on their next series, as Marquez Valdes-Scantling left the game with a back injury. That will be worth monitoring throughout the next two weeks, but a few plays later the Packers’ other prominent receiver kept up his excellent recent play with his second touchdown of the game. Allen Lazard hauled in a 29-yarder from Rodgers to finish the starters’ day with a bang shortly before halftime. Mason Crosby would push the point-after just wide right, however, in his first missed kick since week 12.
In the final minutes of the first half, the Lions would drive down into the red zone, converting another fourth down attempt along the way. That drive ended in a field goal to make the score 17-13 in favor of Detroit at the half.
Rodgers and Adams’ days would be done after the half, as they gave way to Jordan Love and the team’s young receivers. After catching six passes for 55 yards in this game, Adams finishes the year with 123 receptions and 1,553 yards, setting new franchise records in both categories. Rodgers, meanwhile, had an excellent statistical first half, going 14-of-18 for 138 yards and two scores to Lazard for a passer rating of 135.6.
Coming out of the break, the Packers’ defense forced a quick punt, but the backups on offense gave the ball back to Detroit quickly. After a second-down sack on Jordan Love, Juwann Winfree fumbled a pass from Love, giving up the first offensive takeaway by the Packers since week 10. Another trick play resulted in a touchdown on the next play for Detroit, with a pseudo-flea flicker leading to a Goff score to tight end Brock Wright.
The Packers got a good look at third-string running back Patrick Taylor in the second half, and he impressed. Taylor had no fewer than three carries for at least 9 yards each in the half, showing good vision and burst on both inside and outside runs. Taylor added a big reception out of the backfield from Jordan Love for a third-down conversion in the red zone before plunging in for a one-yard score, the first touchdown of his pro career. Love was unable to connect with Amari Rodgers on a two-point conversion, however, preserving a two-point lead for the Lions at 24-22.
The Lions kicked a field goal midway through the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 27-22, giving Love the chance for a fourth-quarter comeback drive. It didn’t take long for him to help the Packers retake the lead, but it was really Josiah Deguara doing most of the work. Deguara took a middle tight end screen upfield, broke one tackle and then was off to the races for a shocking 62-yard touchdown. Love ran in the two-point conversion himself, keeping the ball on a read-option and putting the Packers up by three at 30-27.
The Packers’ backup defense allowed the Lions to grab the lead back, however, giving up a 14-yard touchdown to DeAndre Swift on the first play after the two-minute warning. That gave Love and the Packers’ backup offense a chance to run a two-minute drill with all three timeouts to go down and win the game.
Unfortunately, on the second play of the ensuing drive, Love would have a hurried pass tipped at the line of scrimmage, and although it hit Amari Rodgers in the hands, he popped it up into the hands of Lions safety C.J. Moore for an interception. The Packers managed to hold the Lions to a field goal while retaining a timeout, giving Love one more chance, this time down seven points instead of four.
After missing Equanimeous St. Brown on a potential touchdown — the pass was underthrown — Love hit St. Brown for a chunk play on second down to get to the 40. But Love’s next pass, once again to St. Brown, was overthrown and Tracy Walker intercepted it across midfield to finish off the Lions’ win.
The result would send the Packers down to 13-4, but the one-seed remains theirs regardless. Green Bay will relax during Wild Card weekend next week and await their next opponent, who will come to Lambeau Field in two weeks.