Jim Polzin grades the Green Bay Packers’ performance Monday night in their 35-17 victory over the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur said he wouldn’t abandon the run like he did last week, and he delivered on that promise. He fed Aaron Jones early and often, with the star running back combining for 13 touches on Green Bay’s first two touchdown drives. Aaron Rodgers, who was awful in the opener, bounced back with a big performance that included four touchdown passes. Rodgers was nearly flawless, save for a near interception in the third quarter after he forced a pass to Davante Adams into triple coverage. The play-action game was in fine form after the Packers established the run early.
Kevin King got burned for a 46-yard completion to former University of Wisconsin athlete Quintez Cephus on the third play of the game and got lost on Cephus’ 5-yard touchdown reception to end that opening drive. The only non-scoring drive of the first half for Detroit was caused by its own undoing (four penalties). Inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell had a rough series in the second quarter, picking up a silly facemask penalty after Lions quarterback Jared Goff was giving himself up on a slide and later getting beat by tight end T.J. Hockenson on an 8-yard score. Rookie Eric Stokes provided solid coverage on Cephus to help stop the Lions on fourth down early in the third quarter. Green Bay’s first turnover of the season was a gift, with Goff fumbling the snap and inside linebacker Krys Barnes jumping on the loose ball for a fumble recovery. But the second one was earned, with Campbell intercepting a pass after Goff was forced to abandon the pocket.
Special teams: B-
Rookie Kylin Hill had a 41-yard kickoff return that gave the Packers great field position on their second scoring drive of the game. A short kickoff combined with a 33-yard return by Godwin Igwebuike set up the Lions with a short field that they converted into a field goal shortly before halftime. Corey Bojorquez averaged 46.7 yards on his three punts.
LaFleur has shown a knack for bouncing back from defeats and did so again, improving to 7-0 in those situations during his two-plus seasons. It took a week, but he had the offense clicking. The defense remains a concern, though the second half was encouraging.
An 18-point win at home over a divisional rival is nothing to sneeze at, but this was hardly a complete game by the Packers. They’ll need to be better to win at San Francisco next week.