Green Bay, Wis. – No matter what happened on Monday night, Matt LaFleur was not going to give up on the Green Bay Packers’ ongoing game.
The third-year head coach skipped last week’s opener and felt he didn’t give the Packers’ ongoing game a chance in a shock defeat to New Orleans. The offense’s play-caller LaFleur had ample opportunity to skip Monday’s run game against the Detroit Lions. Due to persistent poor defense from new coordinator Joe Barry’s group, the Packers were left behind by a touchdown before turning into the area of the offense.
But LaFleur wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice.
The Packers ran the football three straight times to start the game on Monday night. He ran on eight of his first 11 plays on the way to his first touchdown drive of the season. Overall, the Packers finished with 31 carries for 96 yards in their 35-17 win against the Lions, finding the base to produce the NFL’s highest-scoring offense in 2020.
This was in contrast to their opener against the Saints, when the Packers ran only 15 times for 43 yards.
Once the Packers reestablished their run game, they had the game to follow. Aaron Rodgers, who has responded to the stink with big games throughout his career, did it again against the Lions. The current NFL MVP completed 27 of 22 passes for 255 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 145.6 rating.
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This was 108.8 rating points higher than Rodgers’ Saints when he completed just 15-of-28 passes for 133 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. His 36.8 rating against the Saints was the fourth lowest of his career.
Rodgers had three touchdown passes to run back to Aaron Jones on Monday. The Packers were intent on setting up Jones on Monday night after Star had 22 yards on seven touches against the Saints. Each of his first three snaps on Monday night handed Jones a handoff.
Jones also caught six passes for 48 yards against the Lions, half of which were for touchdowns. He became the first Packers to catch three touchdowns in a game since Andy Uram, who did so against the Chicago Cardinals in 1942. Jones added 67 yards on 17 carries, including a 1-yard dip in the end zone for his fourth score. .
That touchdown put the Packers in command at the start of the fourth quarter, 35-17.
As the Packers’ run game rolled on, their passing game began to take off chunk play. Receiver Davante Adams caught eight passes for 121 yards, including a 50-yard welcome down the right on the third and 12. The long reception set up a 22-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers, to tease Robert Tonian, who knows a little about catching a touchdown from Rodgers on Monday Night Football.
A year earlier, Tonin had taken three touchdown catches against the Atlanta Falcons in Monday Night Football. Toyn took three catches for 52 yards against the Lions, while also drawing a 25-yard defensive pass interference penalty.
The Packers run game had a double advantage. Not only did it ignite their offense, but it also kept the Packers’ troubled defense off the field.
Even though the Packers only allowed 17 points – none after halftime – it was another roller-coaster night for Barry’s defense. The Lions got off to a hot start, scoring two touchdowns and a field goal in their first four possessions before the Packers found their footing in the defense.
There were more mistakes in the secondary, including a wide-open touchdown pass from Lions quarterback Jared Goff when no one covered Quintez Cephas in the left corner of the end field. The score, which put the Packers back 7-0 early, came after Cephas caught a 46-yard pass against cornerback Kevin King on third and -1.
The Packers handed first-round rookie Eric Stokes a slew of snaps on Monday night, as King was sometimes moved into the slot. How they configure their secondary will be a talking point entering the 3 week road trip to San Francisco.
Before a short week, the Packers were back on the right track, at least Monday night. Considering the debacle of a week ago, it was a step in the right direction.
The Packers improved to 1-1 while the Lions fell 0-2.