The Green Bay Packers struggled to score in the red zone and fell to the Detroit Lions 15-9 Sunday in Detroit. The Packers outgained the Lions but costly turnovers, bad penalties and key injuries derailed the Packers and led to their fifth straight loss this season.
Aaron Rodgers threw for 291 yards but tossed three interceptions including two in the red zone. The defense held the Lions to just 254 yards and 15 points but that was enough to defeat the struggling Packers.
The loss drops the Packers to 3-6 on the season while the Lions improved to 2-6.
Here is a look at 10 things we learned from the Packers 15-9 loss to the Lions:
- The Defense Played Well Enough To Win
Statistically, the Packers defense had a strong game against a Lions team that has moved the ball well all season. Detroit was limited to 254 total net yards and 15 points.
The run defense held Detroit to less than four yards per carry and the Lions gained only 137 yards through the air all game.
Under normal circumstances, NFL teams with those defensive numbers would win 95 percent of the time but the way this Green Bay team has been playing, it just wasn’t enough.
The defense made their share of mistakes at critical times, but considering they were without De’Vondre Campbell the entire game and without other injured players as the game progressed, they played well enough to win this game.
- Injuries Continue to Pile Up
The list of players injured in this game was long and costly. Wide receiver Romeo Doubs was lost early in the game and had to be carted to the locker room and could not return.
Starting right guard Jon Runyan, Jr. also left the game with an injury but was able to return eventually. He was replaced by rookie Zach Tom who played his third position in as many games.
The Packers saw cornerback Eric Stokes leave the game with an ankle injury and he did not return. Stokes was replaced by Keisean Nixon who moved into the slot while Rasul Douglas returned to the boundary.
Offensive tackle David Bakhtiari also missed time due to injuries but eventually returned to the game.
Wide receiver Christian Watson suffered yet another injury and continues to struggle to stay on the field.
Edge rusher Rashan Gary also left the game early as did running back Aaron Jones.
It was a mess for the Packers as they tried to keep their best players in the game.
Good teams figure out a way to continue to play well after injuries strike like the Packers did in 2010. The 2022 Packers were unable to do so again in Detroit.
- Aaron Rodgers Struggled
Aaron Rodgers had a tough game and continues to struggle with his accuracy. He threw three interceptions with two of them coming in the red zone that caused long drives to end without points. One throw hit the defender right in the helmet and bounced up and was intercepted.
The third interception came right after Jaire Alexander made a big pick that gave the Packers the ball on the Detroit 23 and ended that scoring threat.
Rodgers had time to throw most of the game but injuries to his receivers and his injured thumb certainly didn’t help his cause.
Over the course of the game, Rodgers looked frustrated and didn’t seem to have his usual confidence although a five-game losing streak will do that to the best of players.
- Penalties Hurt the Packers Again
Penalties were a killer for the Packers in this game. Twice penalties wiped out potential sacks and the Packers failed to record a sack in this game.
Overall, Green Bay gave the Lions four first downs via penalty and another penalty helped give the Lions their two-point conversion when Alexander was called for running into the kicker on the extra point attempt after the game’s first touchdown.
Offensively, penalties helped derail whatever limited production the Packers had on that side of the ball and often forced the team into long yardage situations.
The Packers finished the game with eight penalties for 81 yards, the second consecutive game the Pack had eight penalties accepted and it hurt them at key times.
- Turnovers Were Killers
The Packers turned the ball over three times and they were the biggest difference in this game. The Packers first offensive drive went 13 plays for 88 yards before Rodgers threw an interception on a play that started at the Detroit 5.
Their second drive was a seven play, 57-yard effort that ended at the Detroit one before Rodgers threw his second pick.
In the first two drives of the game, the Packers gained 145 yards on 20 plays and held the football for more than 10 minutes but came away with no points.
The third turnover, as described earlier, cost the Packers a golden scoring chance after Alexander’s interception gave them the ball deep in Detroit territory.
If any one of these interceptions hadn’t happened, the Packers would likely have won the game assuming they scored a touchdown on the drive. But of course, that didn’t happen in this game.
- The Packers Did Not Run the Ball Effectively
Who led the Packers in rushing yards in this game? It was Aaron Rodgers who gained 40 yards on four runs including an 18-yard scamper that picked up a first down on 3rd-and-17.
The Lions run defense entered this game ranked 30th in the league in allowing 154.9-yards per game but the Packers just couldn’t run the ball consistently.
Yes, the injury to Aaron Jones was part of the reason and the injuries to Runyan and Bakhtiari didn’t help matters, but A.J. Dillon and Jones combined to gain 59 yards on 20 carries. Kylin Hill made his season debut and gained seven yards on his only rushing attempt of the game.
Overall, the offense didn’t try to run the ball enough and wasn’t effective enough when they did.
The Lions run defense is one of the worst in the league but the Packers failed to take advantage of it.
- The Packers Pass Rush Didn’t Get There Enough
The Packers failed to register a sack in this game although they had two sacks called back on unnecessary roughness or roughing the passer penalties.
Jared Goff had enough time to throw most of this game but he still wasn’t all that productive, completing just 14-of-26 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
Goff threw one interception but had the pass rush been in his face more, he may have been even less effective in this game and turned the ball over more.
The Packers were credited with just three quarterback hits in this game, one by Gary, one by Jonathan Garvin and one by Jarran Reed.
- No Urgency in the Huddle
For the second straight week, the Packers offense failed to show a sense of urgency in the fourth quarter down by two scores.
The Packers trailed Detroit by nine points midway through the fourth quarter when they went on a 14-play, 71-yard drive that resulted in Mason Crosby’s field goal. The drive took 8:15 off the clock and there was 6:36 left in the game when it was over.
During the drive, the Packers continually used all or nearly all the play clock while the game clock was running. Based on the way the offense was struggling all game to produce points and the fact that the Packers needed two scores to take the lead, a greater sense of urgency was needed.
Going up-tempo was not always necessary but if they saved 10 seconds off the play clock on even half of those plays, they would have had another minute to 90 seconds left on the clock to start their final drive.
Knowing how much time is left in the game and what the situation is are important factors in play calling and the way you run your offense. Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers didn’t take that into account for the second straight week and they lost both games.
- The Packers Are Playing Like a Bad Football Team
The Packers are doing the things that bad football teams do often: they are beating themselves. Costly turnovers, untimely penalties, poor clock management, breakdowns in the clutch, these are the things that bad football teams do.
The difference in talent in the NFL between a playoff team and an also-ran is not great, but the good teams don’t beat themselves and make big plays in the clutch to overcome their mistakes. The Packers are not a good team right now.
- It Will Take a Miracle to Salvage This Season
The Packers are now 3-6 on the season and are 4.5 games behind the Vikings with eight games to play. They still face some tough games ahead including the Cowboys, Titans, Eagles, Rams, Dolphins and Vikings.
If by some miracle the Packers ran the table, they still may not win the division. Even a strong 6-2 finish which is unlikely based on the schedule and the way this team is playing, wouldn’t guarantee the Packers a playoff berth.
This loss the Lions all but ended the competitive part of the Packers season. They will need to win one game and slowly claw their way back into playoff contention but it will take a complete turnaround by this team for that to happen.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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