No Jamaal Williams? No problem. Well, that’s not entirely true, as the Green Bay Packers’ offense struggled quite a bit on Sunday against the Detroit Lions, but once they got Aaron Jones going and Aaron Rodgers started taking shorter passes, the team’s offense got into a bit of a groove.
Jones played a career-high in snaps, recorded a career-high in carries with 25, and tied his career-high in total touches with 27, but his biggest play was undoubtedly one that came on the Packers’ final drive. Jones’ 31-yard scamper on a screen pass took the Packers from midfield to well within Mason Crosby’s field goal range for the winning kick.
And although Aaron Rodgers’ issues with the deep ball on Sunday were numerous, he did make some terrific throws, including a sidearm flick on that screen pass. Whether by design or by his own decision-making, Rodgers attempted a career high in deep passes, something that must change if the Packers expect to advance in the postseason. The offense has been at its best when Rodgers gets the ball to his playmakers in rhythm, so hopefully a week of self-scouting during the bye will help this offense click better in two weeks in the Divisional round of the playoffs.
OFFENSE (88 plays)
Aaron Rodgers 88
Where do we begin with Rodgers? As has been the case with a handful of the Packers’ games this year, he was both a primary reason why the team struggled early on — missing throws left and right, primarily by overthrowing his receivers — as well as a critical factor in the team’s successful comeback. While his first touchdown pass was a gimme thanks to Davante Adams cooking a pair of Lions DBs, his second was a thing of beauty as he hit Allen Lazard perfectly over Darius Slay’s coverage.
The inconsistency that he is displaying, particularly on deep balls, is maddening, especially when he attempted a career-high number of passes at least 20 yards down the field. Of those 17 attempts, Rodgers completed just three of them — the two touchdowns, plus a nice 28-yard dime to Adams early in the third quarter.
Rodgers finished the day 27-for-55 passing for 323 yards, two scores, and one interception. that leaves his final regular stat line at 353-569 (62.0%) for 4,002 yards, 26 touchdowns, and four interceptions. That ends his season with a 95.4 passer rating, his lowest since 2015 and third-lowest in a season as a starter.
Aaron Jones 75, Tyler Ervin 17, Dexter Williams 4
With no Jamaal Williams to spell him, the Packers rolled Jones out consistently and fed him early and often. Jones carried the football 25 times for an even 100 yards, adding two receptions on six targets for 43 yards through the air. His biggest touch was one of his last, a 31-yard screen pass that set the Packers up in field goal range for Mason Crosby’s game-winner.
Rodgers struggled hitting his backs with passes all day, however. Besides the four incompletions to Jones, all of which were off-target, he also missed Ervin with two deep attempts when the speedy back got open up the sideline.
Davante Adams 78, Allen Lazard 67, Geronimo Allison 54, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 20, Jake Kumerow 17
Adams finished his season three yards short of 1,000, matching the 997 yards he posted in 2016, though doing so in just 12 games. In this contest, he caught seven of 13 targets for 93 yards and a touchdown, making it his third straight game with at least seven catches and 90 yards.
Lazard came up big as well, showing why he is and deserves to be the team’s #2 and providing a big, physical presence that the team surely expected to get from Equanimeous St. Brown before his preseason injury. Lazard caught four passes for 69 yards and a score, as he finished just shy of 500 yards on the season. All four of his receptions went for first downs, including a crucial 13-yard catch on third-and-nine on the game-winning drive. He was injured on that play, so hopefully he will be good to go in two weeks.
Jimmy Graham 48, Marcedes Lewis 32, Robert Tonyan 16, Jace Sternberger 12
Graham’s stat line shows a decent game on Sunday, catching four of seven passes for 49 yards. However, he will be remembered for a brutal drop on the Packers’ first offensive play, when Rodgers hit him with a perfect pass up the seam that should have gone for a huge gain. Outside of him, Lewis had one catch for 12 yards and Tonyan caught two of three targets for nine yards.
David Bakhtiari 88, Elgton Jenkins 88, Billy Turner 88, Lucas Patrick 68, Bryan Bulaga 53, Jared Veldheer 35, Corey Linsley 20
The Packers allowed just one sack of Rodgers, which came on an overload blitz off the left side of the line, though they did give up six hits on the quarterback. Linsley left the game early with a back problem and did not return, while Bulaga went out in the third quarter with a possible concussion and also stayed out. In their places, Patrick and Veldheer looked quite solid, holding up at the point of attack and largely filling in well for the veteran starters.
In his first action as a Packer, Veldheer showed why he was an excellent signing. Playing next to a former teammate in Billy Turner, he looks the part of a solid fill-in tackle, and should give Packers fans some confidence that he can hold up if Bulaga’s apparent concussion causes him to miss any playoff action.
DEFENSE (60 plays)
Kenny Clark 54, Dean Lowry 44, Tyler Lancaster 24, Kingsley Keke 4, Montravius Adams 1
Clark did not record a sack or a QB hit on Sunday, but he had another solid game with five total tackles, including one for a loss. The way he and Za’Darius Smith complement each other is impressive to see. Meanwhile, Lowry had a pair of tackles but struggled a bit to get off blocks and double-teams. Lancaster got held off the stat sheet despite a solid amount of playing time.
Za’Darius Smith 54, Preston Smith 41, Kyler Fackrell 37, Rashan Gary 13
The Packers used a lot of an interesting 2-4-5 formation on Sunday with three outside linebackers and one inside backer, Martinez. Most often, this took the form of Preston Smith and Fackrell on the outside with Za’Darius Smith roving around the middle of the line, often rushing against the center from a standing alignment. This has been a consistent theme in the past few weeks — letting Z roam around as a rover before the snap — and has resulted in difficulties for offensive lines in deciding who to double-team.
Smith did not post a huge day statistically, with just one assisted tackle and a pair of hits on quarterback David Blough, but he should get credited with big pressure numbers once again as he routinely affected throws.
Blake Martinez 60, Ibraheim Campbell 18, Oren Burks 3, B.J. Goodson 3
Martinez had a fine day on the stat sheet, recording the Packers’ only sack and coming up with a crucial interception in the fourth quarter. It was the third interception of his careeer, the first this season, and his first since week 12 of the 2017 season. As usual, he led the Packers in tackles with seven.
Adrian Amos 60, Darnell Savage 60
Both Amos and Savage recorded a tackle for loss in this game, Savage’s coming in run pursuit and Amos on a pass to the flat. Amos ended the day with five total tackles, while Savage had three.
Jaire Alexander 59, Kevin King 58, Tramon Williams 45, Chandon Sullivan 22
It was a bit of an ugly day for Alexander, who was beaten a few times early. The big play he gave up was a deep pass to Kenny Golladay, who was wide open on a post route. Alexander recorded five tackles and a pass breakup, but it was a rough day overall. Williams dropped an interception late in the third quarter that could have given the Packers good field position, but it came on a third down and the Lions punted away anyhow.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS
Oren Burks 22, Josh Jackson 22, Ty Summers 22, Ibraheim Campbell 19, Robert Tonyan 18, Ka’Dar Hollman 15, Chandon Sullivan 14, Jake Kumerow 13, Kyler Fackrell 12