Insider: Thumbs up to Peppers, down to Boykin
The big picture
DETROIT -- There are two ways to look at this loss. One, it's an ominous sign for the offense. Aaron Rodgers wasn't able to take advantage of a Detroit secondary that has changed dramatically from the start of training camp because of so many injuries, and that doesn't inspire confidence for the rest of the season. Two, if you looked at the Packers' schedule before the season, you wouldn't have been too surprised by a 1-2 start. Either way, the Packers will be playing catch-up again this season.
Julius Peppers had the defensive play of the game in the third quarter when he easily got around right tackle Garrett Reynolds, pounded Matthew Stafford and forced a fumble that he recovered at the Packers' 13-yard line. Detroit had reached Green Bay's 7 and was threatening to extend its lead to 12 points. On the previous play, Peppers recognized a misdirection play and forced Stafford to throw away the ball. It was the second time he helped keep the Lions out of the end zone. In the second quarter, Detroit had a first-and-goal from the 6, but he smothered Reggie Bush for a 4-yard loss on an off-tackle play. On the next two plays, Clay Matthews forced an incompletion by tipping a pass and Mike Neal sacked Stafford to force a field goal.
Jarrett Boykin is having trouble picking up where he left off last season when he finished with 49 catches and three touchdowns. On Sunday, Boykin couldn't hang on to two catchable balls and Rodgers' confidence in him as the No. 3 receiver has to be eroding. The first miss was on a back-shoulder play that his predecessor, James Jones, used to make in his sleep. The second came on the first play after Detroit took a 12-7 lead. It was a quick pass to the left and went right through his hands.
After Green Bay's disastrous start to the game, the prospects for a comeback were looking up when cornerback Davon House intercepted Stafford with a nice diving catch near the goal line. But instead of getting the ball at their 20, the Packers had to start from their 1-yard line after the officials determined House was down at the 1 before his momentum took him into the end zone. On the next play, with Eddie Lacy lined up about 8 yards deep in the end zone, Detroit linebacker DeAndre Levy blitzed and drilled Lacy for a safety. A 7-7 game was suddenly 9-7 with the Packers punting after the safety. On the Lions' next possession, despite a solid defensive effort, they kicked a field goal to go up 12-7 and take back the momentum.
Did you notice?
• Detroit middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch defined partying too hard when he injured his knee while celebrating a first-quarter sack of Aaron Rodgers. He left the game with less than 8 minutes left in the first quarter and never returned.
• You can't blame a guy for trying, but Rodgers twice put his health on the line in the first half. The first came when he tried to tackle Don Carey near the end zone on the Detroit safety's fumble return for a touchdown. The second came when he tried to block for Lacy and was drilled by Levy. The quarterback seemed a bit perturbed after bouncing up from the turf.
• The Lions didn't throw a pass to All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson in the first quarter but went right to him on the first play of the second quarter for a 26-yard reception. Sam Shields had decent coverage on the play, but Megatron is Megatron. Johnson finished with six catches on 10 targets for 82 yards.
Rants and raves
RANT: Twice in the third quarter, Packers cornerback Tramon Williams helped the Lions' offense stay on the field with third-down penalties. The first was a holding call on third-and-4. Stafford had scrambled short of the first-down marker, but the penalty gave them first down at their 44. The second was a pass-interference call on third-and-3 that nullified an incomplete pass to Johnson.
RAVE: Detroit's offense entered Green Bay territory seven times and came away with only 10 points. In order, those drives ended in an interception, an interception, a field goal, a missed field goal, a fumble, a touchdown and a kneel-down to end the game.
RANT: The Packers' offense failed to put together sustained drives and got crushed in the time-of-possession battle: Detroit 38:13, Green Bay 21:47. The Packers had only four drives that lasted longer than 3 minutes.
RAVE: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix just keeps making plays. The rookie safety intercepted a Stafford pass after it went through receiver Corey Fuller's hand, then appeared to be slightly tipped by House. He also has a fumble recovery and a sack this season.