Defense: 5/5 stars
One total yard against in the first quarter, 20 in the first half. Three points allowed in the first half, but only because the Packers first drive started at the Lions’ 16-yard line. It was a flawless first half defensively. The defensive line dominated, and it meant the secondary didn’t really need to do a whole lot.
The third quarter was less than ideal, but Detroit crawled into a bit of a shell and was clearly trading yards and points for time. That mentality shifted a bit after the Packers made the game tighter, but not by much. The Lions were very content to force the Packers to check it down and burn the clock for most of the second half.
There’s not a whole lot to say, but the first half was perfect and the second half wasn’t only because of score effects.
Defensive player(s) of the game: Aidan Hutchinson/Alim McNeill
Every week there are fewer and fewer ways to say Aidan Hutchinson is good at football. Against the Packers on Thursday night he added another eight pressures, 1.5 sacks, and had a pressure rate of 21.1 percent. That’s elite production, and it’s stayed consistent through the first four games of the season. The only difference is that in the past two games, the sacks have finally started coming. He’s the Lions best defender and he’s going to be a force all year long.
As for McNeill, there has been a pretty clear jump in his play over the past two games. There’s a direct correlation between his spike in production and Isaiah Buggs returning to the lineup. McNeill being asked to play less nose tackle and more 3-technique has unleashed him. This is the McNeill we thought we were getting after the off season hype. His presence on the interior has been considerable, and he and Hutchinson have been feeding off each other. The result? Opposing quarterbacks being forced to run for their lives.
The Jahmyr Gibbs discourse is reaching a breaking point. The fantasy football community is actively melting down every week over his lack of usage. Should David Montgomery be getting four times the rush attempts? Probably not. But take a breath, the Lions would not have drafted Gibbs without the intention of incorporating him as the season went on. Just because their plan doesn’t conform to your fantasy football needs doesn’t mean he won’t play an important role on this team.
Jack Campbell is continuing to be a steady presence. He’s not flashing necessarily but he’s not having any traditional “rookie mistakes” either. He’s just been a very solid player in a linebacker room that has a lot of good players around him.
Sam LaPorta and Jared Goff have quickly established a connection. It goes beyond Goff trusting the rookie to get open, he knows he can count on LaPorta. Multiple instances of throwing into tight windows, and of LaPorta working his way back to the ball when Goff is flushed from the pocket. Given how quickly their connection has been established, LaPorta could be in for a monster rookie year.
There was a major injury scare when Brian Branch went down in this game. Fortunately, he avoided a major injury. Branch has been a star from the second the Lions drafted him. Losing him would be a major blow to the defense (for proof see what happened on the last play of the third quarter with Will Harris in Branch’s spot). The Lions might have a potential Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate on their hands… for the second year in a row.
Needs improvement: N/A
You can critique certain aspects of the game. But honestly, this wasn’t a game in which anything stuck out in a negative way. Aside from nitpicking little things, the Lions played a very well-rounded game.
Play of the game: Jerry Jacobs’ first interception
The momentum was fully on the Lions' side in the first quarter. After another successful drive into Green Bay territory, the Lions came away with a field goal to make it 17-3. The pressure was on Jordan Love and the Packers to show any sign of life. That’s when the Lions’ defense stepped up again to prove that this year is different.
For all intents and purposes, that play was the end of the game. Sure it was only the first quarter, but a team as good as the Lions should be able to hold a 21-point lead no matter how much time is left.
So now for the second time this season, Detroit gets to kick back and watch the rest of the league play on Sunday after a big win on Thursday night. The rest is needed too, with how banged up the Lions are this little “mini bye-week” could end up being really beneficial. So now, it’s onto Carolina, as the Lions look to extend their lead on the NFC North.