Insider: Thumbs up to Richard Rodgers
THE BIG PICTURE
The victory meant more than just gaining home field for the NFC divisional round of the playoffs, it meant an extra week for Aaron Rodgers' injured calf to heal. If the Packers had lost and been forced to play this weekend at Dallas, Rodgers might have been too hindered to lead them to a road victory.
Now, with an extra week, Green Bay has a much better chance to advance. They'll play the Cowboys, Cardinals or Panthers on Sunday, Jan. 11 at 12:05 p.m. CST.
Richard Rodgers had one of his best, if not his best, games as a pro. The rookie tight end caught all five passes thrown his way for 40 yards (he had four catches for 58 yards in the loss at New Orleans). But more than the numbers were his two big third-down catches.
The first came in the second quarter on third-and-1 from the Green Bay 45 with a 7-yard catch over the middle. But the second one, in the fourth quarter, was more impressive: on third-and-4 from the Detroit 36, Rodgers hauled in an off-target pass for 6 yards and kept alive the game-clinching drive.
Rodgers had three catches for 15 yards on that possession, which ended with Green Bay up 28-14 after Aaron Rodgers dove for a 1-yard touchdown.
Brad Jones was less than effective as the lone linebacker in the dime defense. He had trouble in coverage and didn't record a tackle. But his biggest gaffe came on a penalty in the second quarter. With only 33 seconds left in the first half, the Lions trailed 14-0 and faced third-and-13 from the Packers' 35.
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford threw incomplete over the middle, but Jones slapped Stafford in the helmet after the throw. He was penalized for roughing the passer, giving the Lions a first down.
One play later, Stafford hit Calvin Johnson in the end zone for a touchdown.
When Aaron Rodgers was helped off the field with 2 minutes, 24 seconds left in the first half, the Packers were up 14-0. By the time he re-entered the game with 7:34 left in the third quarter, the Lions had tied the game at 14-14 and seemed in control. But Rodgers seemed to re-energize the team. He connected with Randall Cobb on a 29-yard pass to the Detroit 19, and four plays later found Cobb again in stride over the middle for a 13-yard touchdown and a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
DID YOU NOTICE?
- Mike McCarthy has won 12 or more games in the regular season for the third time, which passes Curly Lambeau (1929, 1931), Vince Lombardi (1962, 1966), Mike Holmgren (1996-97) and Mike Sherman (2001-02) for the most by a coach in franchise history.
- Green Bay finished the regular season undefeated at home for the 13th time in franchise history, including the second time under McCarthy (2011). It's the eighth time the Packers finished with eight home wins during the regular season.
- Aaron Rodgers is on current streaks of throwing 418 passes at home without an interception and 36 consecutive touchdown passes at home without an interception, both NFL records.
- Jordy Nelson set a franchise record for single-season receiving yards with 1,519, passing Robert Brooks (1,497 in 1995).
- Micah Hyde returned a first-quarter punt 55 yards for a touchdown, the third in his career, which ties the franchise record (Desmond Howard and Will Blackmon).
RANTS AND RAVES
RANT: The play-calling during the Packers' first-quarter red-zone series was as confusing as it was ineffective. Green Bay had seven tries to get the ball in the end zone from inside the 6-yard line and couldn't do it. Even worse, on first-and-goal from the 1, the Packers went with John Kuhn as the tailback and ran nowhere. After two straight incomplete passes, Eddie Lacy lost a yard off left tackle on fourth down. Why not kick the field goal and take the points?
RAVE: The Packers' secondary did as well against one of the NFL's top receiving duos as can be expected. Golden Tate (96 catches, 1,286 yards, 4 touchdowns) and Calvin Johnson (67-1,038-6) entered with gaudy numbers, but Tramon Williams and Sam Shields, for the most part, held them to a combined seven catches (on 16 targets) for 84 yards and two Johnson TD catches.
RANT: The problems keep piling up for the Packers' special teams: another blocked field goal attempt, and poor coverage on kickoffs and punts. Mason Crosby's blocked 52-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter was the seventh blocked field goal/point-after/punt this season. That's way too many. This time, it seemed, the kick was low.