The Green Bay Packers entered Detroit today as the heavy favorites and the number two spot in the NFC seemed like it was a guarantee. However, the Lions made it a game that Green Bay had to sweat out. The Lions jumped out to a 14-0 lead and led 17-3 in going into half time. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers looked less than his best self, and Green Bay looked like they were ready to play next weekend in a Wild Card game. They would go on to win the game 23-20, not leading until the final whistle, but left a lot of questions that need answering as they enter the playoffs.
Despite what can’t be described as anything but an ugly win, the rookie Head Coach may have called his best game yet. Rodgers’ stats don’t show it, but the Packers had receivers constantly schemed open. If the Pack can continue to get guys open, they can overcome their lack of skill on the perimeter outside of Davante Adams. Down the stretch, a sharp Rodgers with open playmakers can take this offense deep into the playoffs. This game is exactly the scheme fans expected when LaFleur was hired. In addition to calling a good game, LaFleur was able to get his team back on track quickly. After falling behind, the young head coach relied on quick passes and short gains to lead a 95-yard touchdown drive and make it a one possession game.
Over the past month, Allen Lazard has emerged as the “other guy.” After Marquez Valdes Scantling never truely emerged, the team started getting Lazard more involved. He hauled in a 28-yard touchdown to tie the game in the fourth quarter. He finished the game with 69 yards on four catches and has earned his quarterback’s trust. Rodgers looked to him late in the fourth against Detroit and looked for him on third downs often.
Big Time Plays
The Packers‘ win can be attributed to three key plays. The first play was the huge touchdown to Lazard mentioned earlier. The second, and maybe the biggest, was the interception by Blake Martinez that set up the Lazard touchdown. The third is the screen pass to Aaron Jones that got the Packers into range for the game winning field goal. Even with a poor offensive outing, the Packers made the plays when they mattered most to get themselves a win this week. The team never seemed to give up despite trailing by 14 points at two different points in the game.
It’s clear that Rodgers doesn’t have to carry this team on his back anymore, and he might not have the skills to either. He missed targets all game and didn’t look like the two-time MVP that fans are used to seeing. However, a good sign for Packers fans is that Rodgers knows he didn’t play his best. During his post game interview, he told reporters that he needs to be better and that he missed too many throws. The good news is that despite completing less than 50 percent of his passes, he did come up big when it mattered most with a big touchdown to Lazard.
The Green Bay Packers have locked up a first-round bye in the playoffs after surviving the scare in Detroit. The team saw big performances from their two biggest weapons on offense yet again. Aaron Jones had a 100-yard rushing day and also had 43 yards in the air. Davante Adams tallied 93 yards, falling three yards short of 1,000 on the year. He also brought in a 20-yard touchdown.
With the San Francisco 49ers defeating the Seattle Seahawks during Sunday Night Football, the Packers will be settling for the two seed heading into the playoffs.
Even with the timely plays, fans still don’t know what to expect in the playoffs. The Green Bay Packers have shown flashes of brilliance all year, but need to be able to put together a full game. One thing is for sure though, no team wants to come to Lambeau to play the Packers. They’ve lost one game at home on the year, and hope to continue the trend in the playoffs. The Packred have found a way to win games with complementary football, and will take wins anyway they can get.
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