Despite having more impressive numbers more than once this season, Aaron Rodgers’ 307 yards and two touchdowns were part of what was possibly his finest performance in 2011, leading the Green Bay Packers to an 11-0 start via a 27-15 Thanksgiving day win over the Detroit Lions.
This was a game the Lions needed to win, not just for the obvious reasons of opening up the NFC North and trying to catch up with the perfect Green Bay Packers. It was supposed to be a statement that the Lions, en route to their first winning season since 2000, are now a contender in the NFC. A team that quickly changed from the NFL’s punching bag and laughing stock.
Going into Thursday’s match-up with the Packers, boasting a 7-3 record, tied for second in the NFC North. But like every thanksgiving (8 straight holiday losses now for the Lions), they got carved up.
The Lions came out to be physical, probably a bit too much. They were gunning down Aaron Rodgers, who took the hits like a champ, and didn’t get rattled. In the second half, his calmness paid dividends in abundance. The dirty late hits didn’t budge him. The Packers even protected him reasonably well, allowing him to be sacked only twice, soft sacks at that.
The moment Ndamukong Suh lost his head (not for the first time) and got himself thrown out of the game, even that edge went away. The Lions had nothing left to disrupt the Packers’ passing game, and Rodgers, shifting from a Shotgun that didn’t work in the first half, just started hitting receivers at will.
Nine different players caught a pass for the Packers last night, as James Jones and Greg Jennings (of course) hauling in for scores. John Kuhn added another rushing touchdown, as Green Bay put the game to bed in the third quarter.
The other side of the coin was the Packers’ defense, which has drawn plenty of criticism from Day 1 this season. Once again, their ability to pick passes threw Stafford out of his game, and gave Aaron Rodgers a lot more wiggle room to work with this team. Clay Matthews, Rob Francois and Charles Woodson. The Packers had 8 more passes deflected as Stafford had another stinker against the Packers. Two years ago he threw four interceptions in a 34-12 home loss.
So where from here, the usual question? For the Packers, it’s pretty obvious that their goal is to repeat where they finished last season, and haven’t lost since. We’re getting better each week. A lot of people picked against us this week and thought this was when we were going down. I still don’t think there is a specific recipe to beat us. Our defense is playing better. They were playing very well today and got three turnovers. And our offense, when we’re not turning the ball over, we’re tough to beat.
B.J. Raji had a more simple way of explaining things – The only statement we made today. is that we don’t plan on losing anytime soon. No disrespect. This is a good team we played, the Detroit Lions. But we don’t like to lose. We haven’t lost in a while and we’re getting used to this.