The Detroit Lions left Green Bay with their fourth win of the season on Monday night, defeating the Packers 30-17. The Lions have won both Monday night games this season for the first time since 1970.
The Lions move up to second place in the NFC North coming off the win, trailing the Minnesota Vikings (6-2).
For the first time 35 years the Lions won by double digits in Lambeau Field. Detroit defeated the Packers 30-10 all the way back in 1982.
With Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers out, many favored the Lions in this game. But the Lions have been in a similar situation before and got burned. Remember Matt Flynn?
Packers’ quarterback Brett Hundley started his opening drive strong, moving them down the field and positioning them for a field goal attempt. Fortunately for the Lions, the place holder had trouble with the ball, causing the kick to be low enough for defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson to block it.
The Lions were first to get on the board. Stafford connected with Marvin Jones Jr. for a touchdown on their first possession for the first time all season putting them up 7-0 in the first quarter.
With that touchdown, Stafford, 29, became the fourth youngest player in NFL history to reach 200 passing touchdowns, trailing Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, and Brett Favre. Some pretty impressive company.
In the second quarter, starting on their own 11 yard line, the Stafford marched his offense all the way down the field. One short pass after another helped them position themselves on the Green Bay four-yard-line.
Finally, on the 13th play of the drive, Abdullah ran in the Lions’ second touchdown of the game, 14-0 Detroit.
The Packers answered right back. Starting at their own 15, they were able to work their way into field goal range thanks to a few completions to receivers Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson. They were able get to the Lions’ 17-yard-line, but with the clock winding down in thehalf, they were forced to settle for a 35-yard-field goal from Mason Crosby.
The Lions entered halftime with a 14-3 lead.
Kicker Matt Prater kicked a pair of field goals after halftime, nailing a 44-yarder in the third and a 19-yarder early in the fourth, to bring the score up to 20-3.
The Packers wouldn’t reach the end zone until the fourth quarter. Hundley forced his way over the goal line on a one-yard QB keeper, making it 20-10 Detroit.
The Lions would go on to score two more times. Jones Jr. hauled in another touchdown, this one going for 11 yards. Prater found his name on the scoreboard yet again drilling a 31-yard field goal to bring the Lions up to 30 points on the night.
There is a lot to take in from this victory.
Let’s start off with the absolute clinic that Stafford put on. Stafford looked much better in Week 9, connecting on 26 of his 33 attempts, or 78.8 percent of his passes (a season high). Stafford was connecting with his receivers all game long, especially Marvin Jones Jr., who caught both of Stafford’s touchdowns and added 107 receiving yards..
Receiver Golden Tate hauled in 113 receiving yards, catching seven of his nine targets in the game and allowed the Lions to move down the field with ease.
Detroit’s offense was so good infact, that they did not punt the entire game. The last time that happened was Thanksgiving Day in 1971.
The Lions offense, coming off a horrendous week against the Pittsburgh Steelers where they didn’t score a single touchdown, seems to have found their stride.
Much of that can be attributed to the offensive line who only allowed one sack the entire game. That is a huge improvement over the five they allowed in Week 7 against the New Orleans Saints. They have been allowing 3.6 sacks coming into the Packers game, 29th in the NFL. Limiting the pressure on Stafford allowed him to thrive.
The defense took a huge step forward after a miserable three-week span in which they let up 99 points. Don’t get too excited though, this was a Packer defense that is missing the two-time MVP. The defense will surely have bigger tests going forward.
Although Stafford’s passing ability seems to have reached a new height this season and the offensive line seems to be steadily improving, the team’s rushing game still seems to be a problem.
Aside from the touchdown, Abdullah struggled. He totaled 48 yards, averaging just 2.3 yards per carry, and fumbled twice.
Detroit as a whole has been one of the least productive rushing offenses in the NFL this season, averaging just 79.9 rushing yards per game, fourth worst. To pair with that, they have only scored three rushing touchdowns this season, 26th in the league.
If Stafford can continue to place the ball as well as he did on Monday, the Lions should not have much trouble scoring going forward.
The Lions have moved back up to a .500 record and with two very winnable games ahead of them, against the Cleveland Browns in Ford Field and the Chicago Bears in Soldier Field, suddenly a shot at the playoffs seems plausible once again.