Thursday Night Football got out of hand remarkably quickly for the Green Bay Packers in week 4. After the Detroit Lions spotted Green Bay an early interception and a 3-0 lead, the entire remainder of the first half belonged to the Lions, who opened up a massive 27-3 edge over the course of the first 30 minutes. Despite a bit more competitive play in the third quarter that at one point brought Green Bay back within ten points, the Lions managed to pull away for a convincing 34-20 win over the Packers, their fourth consecutive over their divisional rivals.
That short-lived Packers lead came after safety Rudy Ford intercepted Jared Goff on the game’s opening possession. Goff floated a pass off his back foot and Ford made an easy pick, giving Jordan Love and the Packers offense exceptional field position on their first possession. However, they failed to pick up a first down, settling instead for a field goal that was the team’s only points — and, in all practicality, their only highlight — of the first half.
After that, it was all Lions until the break. Detroit scored on four straight drives and five of six before the half, while the Packers did not move the chains until already in a 24-3 hole. Goff got the Lions’ scoring started with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown, but after that it became the David Montgomery show. The Lions’ running back, who was active after being questionable this week, was a steady producer on the ground, carrying the football a whopping 32 times for 121 yards. Montgomery took three of those carries into the end zone, scoring two touchdowns in the first half and a third in the fourth quarter to put Detroit up 34-17 and effectively put the game away.
To be sure, the absence of linebacker De’Vondre Campbell hurt the Packers’ defense against a physical runner like Montgomery. The team substituted in Isaiah McDuffie in his place, but the lighter McDuffie struggled to bring Montgomery down quickly, as he often dragged tacklers for significant yards after contact. Meanwhile, Quay Walker finished the game with 19 tackles, his second game in less than three weeks with more than 15 total stops.
On offense, it was no better. The Packers’ offensive line — missing All-Pros David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins — struggled mightily to protect Jordan Love, who was sacked five times in the game and hit another six more. Love was frequently running for his life, and though he had a few flashes of brilliance once again, including a 44-yard bomb to Jayden Reed on the final play of the third quarter and an excellent touchdown run on a designed quarterback draw, his inconsistency in the first half helped lead to the Packers’ massive early deficit.
Love finished the game 23 of 36 for 246 yards and a touchdown passing — that went to Christian Watson in his season debut — but Love also threw a pair of interceptions. Both of those targets were headed for Romeo Doubs, the Packers’ leading receiver with 9 catches and 95 yards, but both appeared to be poor decisions.
The Packers’ usage of their running backs was equally frustrating in this game. Aaron Jones, who has so often been underutilized throughout his career, saw just two carries in the first half and five overall. Jones was off the field for multiple consecutive drives in that first half while the team kept giving AJ Dillon playing time, an inexplicable decision with the dynamic running back finally returning from a two-game absence resulting from a hamstring injury.
The offense did move the ball better in the second half, as Love started to come alive a bit. They finally scored a touchdown early in the third quarter on Love’s one-yard pass to Watson, which capped off a 12-play drive that featured a gain of 15 yards to Doubs on 4th-and-9 from the Lions’ 17-yard line. Down 24 before the touchdown, the team elected to go for two and got the points with a pass from Love to Reed, then got a couple of quick stops from the defense to set up another touchdown drive that featured Love’s biggest play of the day to Reed. Two plays later, he ran up the middle for a score and the team went for two again to try to cut the deficit to 8 points. However, the Lions snuffed out Love’s run to keep their lead at to 10 points at 27-17, and the Packers would get no closer than that.
A long drive of 14 plays and nearly 9 minutes ate up most of the remainder of the game and extended the Lions’ lead back to 17 points with Montgomery’s third touchdown. A late field goal by Green Bay brought the final margin of victory to 34-20.
Green Bay falls to 2-2 on the season and now sits a game back of the 3-1 Lions in the division and down a head-to-head tiebreaker. The two teams will meet again on a Thursday later this season when they play on Thanksgiving Day at Ford Field.
The one notable injury for the Packers in this game was to rookie tight end Luke Musgrave, who left the game with an apparent concussion and did not return.