Packers' defense delivers in adverse situations for 'different kind' of win
GREEN BAY – Quietly unspooling tape from his hands, eye black still smeared on his cheeks, the small scar above Adrian Amos’ top lip rose.
“It’s promising because I feel like great teams pull out the games you’re not really supposed to win,” he said with a small smile. “I feel like a lot of things on a lot of people’s schedule, the difference between like a 12-4 team and an 8-8 team is those real tight games of who finished at the end?”
The Green Bay Packers walked off the Detroit Lions 23-22 Monday night at Lambeau Field thanks to separate 13- and nine-point comebacks, the latter coming in the fourth quarter. But for Aaron Rodgers to orchestrate his 21st career game-winning drive and Mason Crosby to perform his first Lambeau Leap after his 23-yard field goal as time expired, Amos and the Packers defense had to play perhaps its best game of the season.
“That’s our job at the end of the day,” cornerback Tramon Williams said. “If (the offense is) having a hard day, it’s our job to keep them in the game because we know that we have the best quarterback in this league and he can get it moving at any time, make the throws that he made in the second half to get us down to score. It was good to see that.
“Sometimes having these adverse wins feel good, because we understand that when it’s all said and done that’s the type of games we’re going to have against really good opponents.”
While it felt like the Lions were in control of most of the game – Detroit possessed the ball for 33 minutes, 4 seconds – they gained 299 yards of offense. It was the fewest Green Bay had allowed since the season opener in Chicago (254).
The Lions also ran 15 plays in the Packers' red zone in the first half and came away with one touchdown.
“That was the story of the game, in my opinion,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said.
The Lions ran 28 plays on the Packers' side of the field and came away with just 22 points, 15 the result of five Matt Prater field goals. The final two were from 51 and 54 yards after the Lions stalled out.
“In those situations we’ve got to score touchdowns,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “You can’t settle for field goals when you play Aaron Rodgers. But, it’s a complementary game. We obviously had a lot of opportunities to win and we have to go out there and execute all three phases better. It’s a team game. It’s not just one side.”
The Packers turned it over three times but didn’t get any themselves for the second time this year. Detroit hit them with a 66-yard flea-flicker to open the game and then a 58-yard pass play on their next series. In the second quarter, the Lions managed a 20-yard catch-and-run by running back Kerryon Johnson and a 22-yard catch-and-run by Kenny Golladay.
In the second half, the Lions’ longest play from scrimmage was a 16-yard completion to Golladay.
Monday was a bit of a turning point for the Packers' defense, which had played with double-digit leads in four previous victories. In the 34-27 loss to Philadelphia, they gave up 21 second-quarter points and two second-half touchdowns.
Green Bay had come in No. 13 in the NFL in red-zone defense, allowing an opponent touchdown 53.9% of the time. They were also 13th in the league in opponent third-down percentage at 33.7%.
On Monday the Packers held the Lions to 23% on third down (3-for-13) and 33% in the red zone (1-for-3).
“It’s just showing that we can win any kind of game,” Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clark said. “Whether it’s us coming out on fire and then get a chance to pin our ears back and go. Whether it’s one of those like the Bears game where we’re playing the field-position battle. And then this one where we were down and it seemed like every time we got some momentum that they got down there and we had to get right back on the field and fight through adversity. It shows the character of our team and it shows that we can win in all kind of different kind of ways.”