The final 2019 regular-season game for the Green Bay Packers was against the Detroit Lions. While the Lions were only playing for pride, the Packers had a 1st-round bye on the line. Green Bay emerged from Detroit with a 23-20 victory. Here is the full recap of the Packers @ Lions game.
Both offenses punted to begin the game. Kerryon Johnson did manage to produce a 1st-down on the ground before the Lions lost yards on a Bo Scarbrough run during the very next play. This left Detroit behind the chains and unable to convert on 3rd down, as David Blough‘s pass to Chris Lacy was rushed and a little low.
The Packers did not fare any better when they had the ball as they went 3-and-out. Jimmy Graham got open on a seam route and Aaron Rodgers put the ball right on his hands. Instead of achieving a 1st-down, Graham dropped the ball and suddenly Green Bay was behind the chains. On 3rd down, the Lions coverage was excellent all across the board and Rodgers had no choice but to throw it up to Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The 2nd year receiver has struggled to catch the ball of late, but on this play, he could not even get open against Justin Coleman.
Looking at Detroit’s record, and perhaps the Packers overlooked their NFC North rival. In Matt LaFleur‘s own words, they sleepwalked through this first half. It was apparent on the first touchdown of the game. Operating in the Red-Zone, the Lions pulled out all of the stops. Blough tossed the football to Danny Amendola in what appeared to be an end-around run towards the right. The defense bit hard for that and no one accounted for the QB as Blough made his way towards the left side and was wide open. Amendola threw the pass to Blough who ran it for the touchdown, and the 7-0 lead.
The Packers responded with a good looking drive of their own. It all began with a 33-yard kickoff return by Tyler Ervin. The recently acquired running back has reinvigorated Green Bay’s return game since arriving a few weeks ago.
The opening play of this drive was a well-designed swing route by Aaron Jones who was alone in space. A disturbing trend to this game was Aaron Rodgers missing on some wide-open throws, including this play where he put the ball just ahead of Jones who was unable to come up with the difficult catch. Two plays later, Rodgers found Davante Adams for a 17-yard gain. It was actually Rodgers’ only competition during the 1st quarter. That is not the typically productive and accurate Rodgers that we have grown accustomed to seeing. While the whole team was sleepwalking through this game, perhaps no one was more evident than the quarterback himself.
Plenty of Penalties
In spite of Rodgers’ unusual inaccuracy, the Packers were able to move the football on the ground during this drive. Eventually, they got into field goal range. However, back-to-back penalties forced the team out of Mason Crosby‘s range.
Green Bay committed 5 penalties in the 1st half alone. That was as many as the last two weeks combined. An offensive pass interference call was bad enough, but to then have 12 men n the huddle immediately after is unforgivable. This forced the Packers to punt once again. In fact, J.K. Scott came out to punt on the team’s first 4 possessions of the game.
Land Over Air
Fortunately for Green Bay, the Lions had just as much trouble moving the football through the air. David Blough went 12-for-29 for only 122 yards. Where they did have success was running up the middle. 9 of the Lions’ 17 1st-downs came on the ground. Kerryon Johnson and Bo Scarbrough both averaged over 4.5 yards per carry. Johnson also scored a 1-yard touchdown in the 2nd quarter. That capped off Detroit’s best possession of the game. That scoring drive lasted 5:52 of game time, took up 11 plays and covered 80 yards, all of which were game highs.
The Packers also found success running the football. Aaron Jones managed to produce his 5th 100-yard rushing game of the season. Green Bay’s offensive line has been a great unit throughout the season, and mostly healthy. However, two starting offensive linemen left this game with injuries, Corey Linsley and Bryan Bulaga. Respectively, Lucas Patrick and Jared Veldheer replaced them and had success. On Patrick’s first snap of the game, Jones ran right behind the center and gained a 1st-down.
Jones’ 100-yard game is even more spectacular considering that he left the game with an injury. He attempted to catch another overthrow by Aaron Rodgers. While diving out on the attempt, Jones hit the ground hard and left temporarily.
Down 14-0 with 3:13 left in the opening half, the Packers needed a good offensive drive. With Jones on the sideline for part of this possession, Green Bay needed to rely on its’ unusually inaccurate quarterback. Early in the game, the Packers were utilizing a lot of deep passes. On this drive, however, there was a more conscious attempt to take advantage of the shorter routes.
Jimmy Graham made up for his early drop by catching a pass and converting on a 3rd-and-6. Two plays later, we finally got to see vintage Aaron Rodgers again. He threw a deep sideline pass to Davante Adams who was able to get separation on Darius Slay. Adams came up with the pass and was able to get both feet in bounds. On previous deep sideline attempts, Rodgers threw to close to the boundary and his receivers were unable to catch them inbounds. The 33-yard reception by Adams set up the Packers in field goal range. They were able to gain one more 1st-down courtesy of Tyler Ervin but were forced to kick a field goal a few plays later.
Up 14-3 with 20 seconds left in the half, the Lions had to feel pretty good about their situation. They were content just to run the clock out. Considering the Packers’ struggles in run-game defense, it may not have been too surprising that Ty Johnson gained 40 yards on a run up the middle and was able to get Detroit into field goal range. Matt Prater made the score 17-3 as time expired on the half. Any momentum that the Packers gained from the field goal, was erased by allowing one so quickly.
Waking the Giant
To begin the 2nd half, Aaron Rodgers’ inaccuracy was on display. He overthrew a wide-open Allen Lazard. Just like their previous drive, it was Jimmy Graham who kick-started the Packers’ possession with an initial 1st-down. Once again, Rodgers found Graham open in the flat and the tight end gained a 1st-down after the catch.
The Packers were set up in likely field-goal range, until a false start penalty pushed them back. A couple more Rodgers’ overthrows forced the offense off of the field and Mason Crosby came on to kick a 51-yard field goal. He missed and the Lions took over with the score still at 17-3.
The Packers forced the Lions to punt on the ensuing possession. After that, Green Bay put together a 13-play, 95-yard drive. The Packers methodically moved the football down the field, mostly with plays going for single-digit yardage. Eventually, Rodgers found Davante Adams in the end zone for a 20-yard score. Great protection from the offensive line allowed Adams the time to develop his corner route. He faked inside and that drew two defenders toward the middle of the field. Suddenly the game was back in the Packers’ favor as they only trailed 17-10.
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Both teams kicked field goals, the Packers to get within 4 points, and the Lions to extend their lead at 20-13. Those 3 points turned out to be the only ones that Green Bay allowed in the entire 2nd half.
Next, Detroit’s defense forced a 3-and-out and got the ball back with 10:36 left in the game. Up by 7, a scoring drive here would have likely ended any comeback hopes for the Packers. Instead, their defense took things up a notch. After his masterful performance in week 16 against the Vikings, Za’Darius Smith was held in check by the Lions offensive line. On this particular drive, however, Smith turned it up a notch applying pressure and occupying space to allow Blake Martinez to make key plays on back-to-back snaps. Usually known for his tackling ability, Martinez got a 9-yard sack during a blitz. On the ensuing play, Martinez went into deep coverage and intercepted Blough’s deep shot pass attempt.
The pressure was back on the Packers offensive line as the Detroit defense was swarming. Credit goes to Aaron Jones when he gained 6 yards after being contacted in the backfield. Jones was stuffed on the ensuing 3rd-and-1, after which the offense remained on the field. A quick catch by Davante Adams converted the 4th down attempt and the drive remained alive. Three plays later, Aaron Rodgers found Allen Lazard 1-on-1 over the middle and dropped a perfect pass to his receiver. Lazard came down with the 28-yard reception for a touchdown. Even more impressive was that Lazard was being covered by Darius Slay, the Lions’ best cornerback. With just over 5 minutes left in the contest, we suddenly had a tie game at 20-20.
Up for Grabs
Just like that, the result of this matchup hung in the balance of the last few possessions. Things began well for the Lions as Kerryon Johnson broke a Za’Darius Smith tackle and gained 20 yards on the play. Detroit could do nothing more as they gained a total of 3 yards on the next 3 plays and were forced to punt.
The Packers also gained a grand total of one 1st-down on their ensuing drive. It was a slant pass to Allen Lazard on which he was injured. Jake Kumerow took his place and received a couple of targets on the next few plays. That includes on Rogers’ deep shot pass attempt that was intercepted by Amani Oruwariye.
Suddenly the Lions had a chance to win. A 5-yard reception by Chris Lacy started things off. However, after 2 straight incompletions, Detroit was forced to punt once more. Unlike the Packers, the Lions could not take advantage of a turnover and score points.
Getting the ball back with 1:20, the Pakcers had two options, score or go to overtime. They got an initial 1st-down thanks to a catch from a player who has been a source of disappointment for the team: Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He not only caught the pass, but got out of bounds to stop the clock for some measure of atonement for drops this season.
The very next play the Packers threw a screen pass to Aaron Jones. It shouldn’t have worked as Lucas Patrick fell down and Elgton Jenkins was the only other offensive lineman that was at the point of attack. But that was enough as Jenkins made a block to spring Jones into space. The running back then used his speed to gain 31 yards and essentially end the game. As time expired, Mason Crosby hit the 33-yard field goal attempt, the second time this season that Crosby beat the Lions on a last-second field goal. Only this time the score was 23-20.
With the victory, the Packers’ 2019 regular-season ends with a 13-3 record and they receive a first-round bye in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Lions cap a 3-12-1 season with 7 blown 4th quarter leads.
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