The Green Bay Packers got off to a strong start and played an aggressive game to defeat the Detroit Lions 29-22 on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit. Jordan Love threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns while Rashan Gary recorded three sacks to help lead the Packers defense. Here are 10 things we learned from the Packers 29-22 win over the Lions.

First Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: Jordan Love Continues to Improve

Love continues to take big steps forward in his development. He completed 22-of-32 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns. That gave him a quarterback rating of 125.5.

More important than the numbers, however, is the way Love improved his accuracy and his ability to make plays under pressure. Love made pinpoint passes downfield to receivers when facing pressure and spread the ball around to eight different receivers.

He also had a 37-yard scramble for a key first down set up by his well-executed fake handoff.

Love beat a talented Detroit defense and continues to show why the Packers made him a first round pick in 2020. There’s still more growth needed, but Love looks like a much better quarterback in November than he did in late September and October and that’s an important development for the Packers.

Second Thing We Learned: Defense Came Up Big on 4th Down

The Packers defense stopped the Lions four times on fourth down in five tries. One of them was a fake punt attempt that the Green Bay special teams stopped for no gain. The only successful fourth down try came in the closing minutes of the game on Detroit’s final drive.

Situational defense is an important part of the modern NFL game, and the Packers came up big on those four game-changing plays. The Lions offense gained 464 yards, but the key stops at key times prevented them from scoring enough points to win the game.

Third Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: Rashan Gary Was Dominant

Gary recorded his second three-sack game of the season and was a disruptive force throughout the game. The former Michigan star recorded seven total tackles, was credited with three quarterback hits, forced two fumbles, and recovered one.

This was an emotional game for Gary who was playing at Ford Field for the first time since he suffered a season-ending knee injury there in Week 9 in 2022.

Fourth Thing We Learned: The Packers Put Consistent Pressure on Jared Goff

The Green Bay Packers recorded three sacks, but the defense was able to put pressure on Lions quarterback Jared Goff throughout the game.

The official game statistics credited the Packers with 12 quarterback hits including three by Gary and two each by Lukas Van Ness, Kingsley Enagbare and Kenny Clark.

Fox Sports gave the Packers credit for more than 20 pressures in the game on 44 passes thrown by Goff.

While the Packers didn’t intercept any passes, the pressure reduced Goff’s effectiveness and the efficiency of the potent Detroit offense in large part due to their pass rush.

Fifth Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: The Packers Were Aggressive from the Start

The Packers sent a message to the Lions early in the game. The Packers won the coin toss and Matt LaFleur went against conventional wisdom by choosing to receiver instead of deferring.

On the first play from scrimmage, Love threw a deep pass to Chrisitan Watson for 53 yards. The Packers went ahead 7-0 four plays later.

The Packers set the tone early in the game and didn’t take their foot off the gas until they had a substantial lead. This was a great response to the physical dominance the Lions established in the first meeting between the teams in Week 4.

Sixth Thing We Learned: Christian Watson Stepped Up

The Packers were without three key offensive weapons in Aaron Jones, Dontayvion Wicks and Luke Musgrave. All three are important receiving targets.

Watson has struggled this season, but he stepped up and enjoyed his best game of the season today. He started with the 53-yard catch on the opening play, and he continued to make important catches throughout the game.

Watson not only made five catches for 94 yards and a touchdown, but he made contested catches and used his size to compete for the football. This is what the Packers need more of from Watson, and this was an encouraging sign.

Seventh Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: Anders Carlson Struggled Again

Packers kicker Anders Carlson continues to struggle. He missed an extra point in the first quarter that could have been costly to the Packers. Keep in mind he was kicking in perfect weather conditions in a dome.

LaFleur’s decision to go for two after Watson’s third quarter touchdown catch was due in part to make up for Carlson’s miss and in part due to having less confidence in him.

I can’t hold Carlson’s field goal miss at the end of the half against him. It was a 63-yard try on the final play of the half and he came close.

Carlson also needs to improve the depth on his kickoffs. The Lions returned four of his six kickoffs in the game and just two went for touchbacks.

The Packers need more consistency from Carlson down the stretch if they hope to make a playoff run.

Eighth Thing We Learned: Jonathan Owens Had a Strong Game

Safety Jonathan Owens came up with a huge play in this game. He recovered a fumble by Goff and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. Owens made a heads up play and could have stopped because some people thought it would be ruled an incomplete pass.

Owens led the Packers with 12 total tackles including one tackle for loss. He made one very hard hit in the third quarter that wowed everybody and made a key third down stop in the fourth quarter.

Owens started because of injuries to Rudy Ford and Darnell Savage but he stepped up and played well when he got his chance.

Ninth Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: The Packers Did Not Allow a Sack

The Packers offensive line did a great job of protecting Love in this game. He was not sacked at all, and the Lions had only four quarterback hits. Aiden Hutchinson was a non-factor in the game and only made two total tackles in the game.

Running back Patrick Taylor did a good job helping in pass protection. Tackles Zach Tom and Rasheed Walker helped contain the pass rush and gave Love time to make plays.

Tenth Thing We Learned in the Packers Win: Karl Brooks Continues to Make Plays

Rookie defensive lineman Karl Brooks continues to make plays in a rotational role. Brooks was credited with a quarterback hit, forced a fumble, and recovered it.

With Devonte Wyatt suffering a possible concussion in the game, Brooks stepped up and played well. He made two tackles in the game and continues to provide quality depth along the defensive line.

This was an important win for the Packers on national television. Now they have a mini bye before facing the Chiefs in what may be their biggest challenge of the season.



Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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