The Detroit Lions did everything they could to keep the Green Bay Packers in contention for a win throughout the first half. Matthew Stafford and the Lions’ offense struggled early, but got the job done in the second half. Meanwhile, the defense held Aaron Rodgers to just 162 passing yards on 27 attempts, cementing a 19-7 victory over the Packers and spurring them to the top of the NFC North with a 2-1 record.
Let’s take a closer look at the good and bad takeaways from yesterday’s victory.
August 15, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Detroit Lions outside linebacker DeAndre Levy (54) during the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Lions 27-26. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
If it were up to me, I would give the game ball to the entire defense, but DeAndre Levy stood out in a crowd of great performances from the Lions’ defensive unit. Not only did he lead the team with nine tackles, but he recorded a safety and also made two huge plays breaking up a couple of passes late in the game to ensure a victory.
Levy is picking up where he left off last year and has been arguably the best player on this team, let alone on defense.
The Entire Defense
It’s not often that you can completely shut down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Not only that, but who expected an injury-ridden secondary to play as well as they did?
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The Lions were without their starting strong safety James Ihedigbo and their top two options at nickelback, yet they still found a way to hold the Packers to just 223 total yards and one score.
The Lions also did an excellent job of pressuring Aaron Rodgers all game long, despite two of their starting defensive linemen being hampered with injuries. Nick Fairley was listed as questionable coming into yesterday’s game, but ended up making the start and had a huge forced fumble early in the game, leading to a touchdown return from Don Carey.
There was a bit of a scare when their leader on defense, Stephen Tulloch, sacked Aaron Rodgers for a big stop on third down and injured himself on the celebration after the play. Tulloch was then carted off the field and would not return after being seen wearing a t-shirt on the sidelines with ice wrapped around his knee. Having Tulloch out for an extended period of time would be a huge blow for the Lions, not only because of his play on the field, but because of the leadership that he brings.
After losing nickel corner Nevin Lawson to a season-ending injury last week, the Lions were forced to go out and sign Danny Gorrer to help out their depleted secondary. It would be Gorrer’s first action in a regular season game, and it’s safe to say that he more than held his own after holding star receiver Randall Cobb to just three catches for 29 yards on six targets.
Corners Darius Slay and Rashean Mathis also did a spectacular job of containing Jordy Nelson and shutting down Jarrett Boykin.
On the offensive side of the ball it wasn’t as pretty, but they definitely had their moments. Last week I called out the Lions for not using Bush enough in the backfield. They must have listened, because Bush ended with his highest total of carries on the year (12) including a 26-yard touchdown run that put a dagger into the hopes of a late comeback for the Packers.
Fuller received his first NFL regular season catch late in the second half and it was a beauty. Unfortunately it didn’t amount to any points after another missed field goal attempt from Nate Freese, but Fuller showed some ability on a nicely thrown ball from Stafford.
It was good coverage from the defender on the play, but Fuller made a veteran move by subtly pushing off the defender and high pointing the ball for a spectacular grab. Head Coach Jim Caldwell has been vocal about Fuller’s ability to take the top off of defenses, and we have finally gotten a glimpse of that against the Packers.
Jeremy Ross, Second-Half Stafford, Theo Riddick, Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, NFC North Standings, Free Agent Kickers