The Green Bay Packers closed out the 2021 regular season with a 37-30 road loss to the Detroit Lions. The game’s outcome made no difference on the Packers playoff seeding as they had already wrapped up the top seed in the NFC playoffs and the first round bye. The team played mostly reserves in the second half of this game.
The Packers have next week off before hosting the lowest remaining seed in the NFC Divisional round on the weekend of January 22nd and 23rd.
Here are 10 things we learned from the Packers 37-30 loss to the Lions:
- Davante Adams Set a New Single-Season Receiving Yardage Record
Congratulations to Davante Adams who broke Jordy Nelson’s Packers record for most receiving yards in a season. Adams only played the first half and still caught a team-high six passes for 55 yards. That gives him 1,553 yards for the season, surpassing Nelson’s total of 1,519 set back in 2014.
When you consider all the outstanding receivers in Packers history like Don Hutson, Max McGee, Boyd Dowler, James Lofton, Sterling Sharpe, Antonio Freeman, Donald Driver and Nelson, the record is truly something to be proud of.
Adams will be a key part of the Packers offense in the playoffs and is one of the best if not the best receivers in the NFL.
- Aaron Rodgers is Ready
Aaron Rodgers wanted to start and he played the first half. The reigning NFL MVP played well and led the Packers on a long drive to open the game and another score just before the half.
Rodgers finished the game 14-of-18 for 138 yards and two touchdowns which gave him a quarterback rating of 135.6. That gave him more than 4,000 yards for the fourth straight season and the 10th time in his career.
Throughout the game, Rodgers looked sharp and ready for the postseason. He is the favorite to win his fourth NFL MVP award.
- Jordan Love Needs Work
Jordan Love played the second half and finished 10-of-17 for 134 yards and a touchdown while also throwing two interceptions.
There were highlights including a 62-yard touchdown pass to Josiah Deguara on a tight end screen and some good third down conversions but clearly the former first-round pick still has some things to work on.
In Love’s defense, he wasn’t playing with the starting offensive line or most of the team’s starting receivers as Adams, Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling were all out of the lineup in the second half.
But the two interceptions hurt the team and Love still needs to improve at reading defenses and most importantly on his footwork. When he is under pressure, he doesn’t set his feet properly and his accuracy is greatly reduced.
These are the biggest things the former Utah State star will need to work on during the offseason.
- The Offensive Line Got Two Starters Back
The Packers offensive line got two starters back when left tackle David Bakhtiari and center Josh Myers returned to the lineup. Both played the first half of the game before taking a seat for the second half.
Bakhtiari hadn’t played all year since suffering a major knee injury before last season’s final regular-season game. He held his own in the first half at left tackle and did a solid job of protecting Rodgers’ blind side. Myers came in at center and played the first half and also played well.
With the two starters returning to the lineup, the Packers sat Yosh Nijman and Royce Newman for the first half and moved Lucas Patrick to right guard.
The goal was to get Bakhtiari and Myers accustomed to the speed of a game and get them more comfortable for the opening of the playoffs in two weeks. The Packers hope both will be ready for action come playoff time.
- The Lions Pulled Out All the Stops
The Detroit Lions called this game like a 2-13-1 team with nothing to lose. They tried all kinds of trick plays like a fake punt, flea flicker, wide receiver option pass and a few other gadget plays. The problem is that except for the fake punt, they all worked.
The biggest play came when wide receiver Tom Kennedy threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Kalif Raymond that tied the game at 7-7. The other gadget plays all resulted in substantial gains that helped the Lions sustain drives.
The Packers defense was fooled badly on many of these plays and will almost certainly see some of them in the postseason.
- Amari Rodgers Hasn’t Learned
Watching Amari Rodgers return punts and kicks has been frustrating this season for Packers fans. The rookie third-round pick out of Clemson is obviously talented but still has a lot to learn both as a receiver and return specialist.
He had one very good punt return against Detroit that he ran back for 23 yards after the Lions punter outkicked the coverage. He was decisive and ran north-south and picked up a substantial gain.
But in the final minute of the game with the Packers trailing by seven, Rodgers decided to run a kickoff out of the end zone in a misguided attempt to make a big play. The result cost the Packers 10 valuable seconds off the clock and cost them three yards of field position.
Rodgers must be more aware of the situation and cannot make foolish decisions like this with the game on the line. The coaching staff also must make it clear to him that under no circumstances should he have run the ball out of the end zone on that play.
Mistakes like these can be very costly in a playoff game.
- The Packers Rested Their Regulars in the Second Half
In addition to sitting Aaron Rodgers and Adams, the Packers sat Lazard, Bakhtiari and Myers in the second half.
Running back Aaron Jones and inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell didn’t play at all as the Packers tried to make sure they were healthy for the playoffs.
It was clear that while Matt LaFleur wanted to win this game, preparing for the playoffs was the top priority. That’s why some players sat, some played only a half and some younger players were featured later in the game.
- Allen Lazard Continues to Step Up
Since Randall Cobb was injured, Lazard has stepped up and played a bigger role in the Green Bay offense. Week 18 was no exception as Lazard caught five passes on six targets for 75 yards and two touchdowns despite playing only in the first half.
Lazard is a big target, a good blocker and Aaron Rodgers feels he can trust him to be in the right place at the right time.
In the final five games this season, Lazard has 21 catches and five receiving touchdowns. When defenses try to take away Adams, Lazard is a good second option for Aaron Rodgers.
- Young Players Had Special Moments
Two young players had special moments in this game. Running back Patrick Taylor scored his first NFL touchdown. It came early in the fourth quarter and pulled the Packers to within 24-22. Patrick saw the most extensive action of his NFL career and finished the game with 53 yards on 11 carries.
Second-year tight end Josiah Deguara also had a highlight reel moment when he rambled 62-yards on a tight end screen for a touchdown.
It was great to see these two young players make big plays and contribute to the team’s success.
- Special Teams Remain An Issue
Special teams were an issue for the Packers…again. In addition to the Amari Rodgers mistake on the kick return, Mason Crosby missed an extra point just when you thought he was regaining his consistency.
The Packers cannot allow special teams to hurt them in the playoffs and today’s performance continues to raise questions about their ability to do that.
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