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Lions embarrass Packers in Thanksgiving Day rout

Nov. 28, 2013
 
Packers-Lions postgame analysis
Packers-Lions postgame analysis: Are the Green Bay Packers finished for 2013? Pete Dougherty, Wes Hodkiewicz and Mike Vandermause discuss Thursday's 40-10 loss at Detroit.
Detroit Lions receiver Kris Durham makes a catch over the middle with Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields defending during Thursday's game at Ford Field in Detroit. Jim Matthews/Press-Gazette Media

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DETROIT — The Detroit Lions on Thursday underscored the point that’s become indisputable over the last five weeks: The Green Bay Packers aren’t even an ordinary team without Aaron Rodgers.

In front of a huge holiday TV audience on Thanksgiving Day and with first place in the NFC North Division at stake, the Lions crushed the Packers 40-10 at Ford Field.

The Packers’ staggering inability to do anything offensively and the overall level they were dominated — the Lions outgained them 561 yards to 126 yards — left several of their players using the word “embarrassing” to describe the defeat.

Meanwhile, in Detroit’s festive locker room after the game, Lions players clearly enjoyed sticking it to their division rivals, who have ruled the NFC North for most of the last 20 years mainly because of their decisive edge at quarterback, first with Brett Favre and more recently with Rodgers.

“Growing up in Wisconsin I kinda especially despise them,” said Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy, who played at Milwaukee Vincent High School and the University of Wisconsin. “I know the effect it will have back home with some of the Packer fans. It’s a little extra special for me.”

The Lions at 7-5 have a half-game lead in the NFC North on the 6-5 Chicago Bears, who play Sunday at Minnesota. The flagging Packers, on the other hand, dropped 1˝ games back at 5-6-1, and essentially have seen their playoff chances reduced to hopes that nine wins will win the division.

In other words, they’d have to win out and have the Lions go no better than 2-2 in the final month (at Philadelphia, the Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants at home, and at Minnesota) and the Bears go no better than 3-2 (at Minnesota, Dallas at home, at Cleveland, at Philadelphia, and at home against the Packers).

Rodgers returned to the practice field for light work this week and appears to have a decent chance of playing against Atlanta now that his broken collarbone can mend for another 10 days. But his return hardly guarantees that the Packers will win out, and regardless of how the season finishes, the Packers’ 0-4-1 record without him has been a harsh dose of reality for everyone in the organization.

“We’re a wounded team that got drilled today by a good football team,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “That’s the facts of the matter. We have a long weekend. Hopefully we’ll get some more people back.”

Said Levy: “Obviously they’re a completely different team (without Rodgers). Rodgers is probably the best quarterback in the NFL. We did what we’re supposed to do to a third-string quarterback.”

The Packers were hoping that Matt Flynn’s experience in their offense from 2008-11 and the spark he provided last week in the fourth quarter against Minnesota would provide that extra something that’s been missing. But in the tough indoor setting at Ford Field, the Packers’ offense with Flynn was the worst it’s been all season and wasn’t even competitive against the Lions’ dominating defensive line led by tackles Ndamukong Suh (one sack, two quarterback hits and a tackle for loss) and rookie end Ziggy Ansah (two sacks, two quarterbacks hits and two tackles for loss).

Almost half of the Packers’ 126 yards came on one pass in garbage time, a 56-yard completion to receiver James Jones just after the 2-minute warning at the end of the game. Flynn (51.9 rating) completed only half his passes (10-for-20), was sacked seven times and intercepted once.

“Everyone’s upset, embarrassed a little bit,” Flynn said. “Especially myself, especially offensively. That’s probably one of the worst games I’ve ever been a part of.”

The Lions, as defenses have done during Rodgers’ absence, played a safety near the line of scrimmage most of the day, and Flynn didn’t have the juice in his arm to make them pay. On several of his sacks he held the ball too long, and others he had no chance, including when Suh blew around Marshall Newhouse for a safety late in the third quarter that pushed the Lions’ lead to 26-10. Newhouse was playing guard because T.J. Lang had moved to center to replaced injured starter Evan Dietrich-Smith in the second quarter.

“Obviously a very disappointing and embarrassing loss for us,” McCarthy said. “Going through the game starting offensively, they pretty much lined up and dared us to throw the football, particularly on first and second down throughout the game, and we did not accomplish that.”

Said Suh: “(Flynn) liked to hold the ball and we saw that, and I believe we took full advantage of it.”

By the second half, the Packers’ defense had become a disaster also, after it had forced two fumbles and intercepted two passes in the first 2˝ quarters.

Their run defense, which has imploded the second half of the season, wore out as the game went on and gave up 211 yards on 39 rushes by halfbacks Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. That running game worked hand-in-glove with the Lions’ talented if erratic quarterback, Matthew Stafford (98.5 rating), who hit seven passes of 20 yards or more and benefited from the presence of the game’s top receiver, Calvin Johnson (six catches for 101 yards), who missed the team’s first meeting because of a knee injury.

But the Packers’ had only seven first downs, and their inability to sustain drives left their defense on the field all day.

With the extra defender by the line of scrimmage all game and facing the No. 4 rushing defense in the NFL, halfback Eddie Lacy could do nothing to take heat off Flynn and the chains moving. Lacy gained only 16 yards on his 10 rushes, with a long run of only 4 yards. Aside from the long pass in garbage time, the Packers’ best play was a 20-yard screen to Lacy.

So with Lacy stymied and Rodgers, tight end Jermichael Finley (season-ending neck injury) and receiver Randall Cobb (broken leg) sidelined, the Packers had one of their worst days in recent memory. Their offense put up only three points — their lone touchdown came on safety Morgan Burnett’s 1-yard fumble return. And their 126 yards was their fewest since they gained only 120 yards in a 35-0 loss to New England in 2006, a game in which Rodgers as a second-year pro played through a broken foot after replacing Brett Favre in the blowout defeat.

“They beat us up,” guard T.J. Lang said. “We have to take a long, hard look at what we’re doing. Obviously on offense, we didn’t have any production on offense today. Probably the worst (expletive) offensive day in the history of the (expletive) Packers.”

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
15%
576 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
23%
856 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
27%
1018 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
34%
1272 votes

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