The Detroit Lions defeated the Green Bay Packers 30-17 on Monday night at Lambeau Field. They now move to 4-4 on the season, two games behind the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC North lead. After a tough three-game skid, this win should give the team some confidence as they enter the latter half of the year.
The Lions had the game in control from the start, jumping out to a 14-3 advantage by halftime and never looking back. Of course, Aaron Rodgers was sidelined with a broken collarbone, but Green Bay can’t use that as an excuse for being unable to contain Detroit’s impressive offensive attack. Here are three takeaways from the Lions week nine victory:
Week Nine Detroit Lions Takeaways
Matthew Stafford Bounces Back
Matthew Stafford has had a rocky season thus far. After playing like an MVP candidate through the first few weeks of the year, he began to struggle as Detroit’s record fell from 3-1 to 3-4. The Pro-Bowler’s rock bottom was against the New Orleans Saints, when Stafford tossed three interceptions and posted a season-low 62.3 passer rating against the Saints.
But now, the former number one pick seems to have regained his composure. Stafford completed 26 of his 33 passes (79%) in Green Bay for 361 yards and two touchdowns. In addition, the 29-year-old’s QBR (93.4) and passer rating (132.4) both marked season-highs.
All night, Stafford seemed to put the ball in just the right place, proving that he remains one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks. Few quarterbacks around the league can make the throw Stafford did late in the first quarter, when he tossed the pigskin right into the outstretched arms of a diving Marvin Jones for a 25-yard touchdown. The score gave the Lions a 7-0 edge, but Detroit’s star quarterback didn’t stop there.
Overall, Stafford and Jones connected seven times for 107 yards, including another touchdown in the fourth quarter. Golden Tate added seven receptions of his own for 113 yards to lead the Lions.
One of the biggest factors that helped Stafford post those incredible numbers was likely his pass protection. Detroit only gave up one sack on Monday for a loss of eight yards, while their season average remains above three allowed sacks per contest. If the Lions offensive line can continue to protect their quarterback the way they did in Green Bay, one can expect Stafford to continue his success as the 2017 campaign enters its final stages.
Running Game Needs Work
Despite the superb showing from Stafford and the passing unit, the Lions offense still has some gaping holes to fill. Most noticeably, their ground attack.
Against a Packers defense that ranks just 23rd in rushing yards allowed per game, Detroit averaged a pitiful 1.9 yards per rush en route to a total of only 66 yards. Ameer Abdullah carried the ball 21 times, a season high, yet only managed 48 yards.
After Abdullah scrambled for 94 yards in Minnesota, many believed that the Lions had finally found someone who could revamp their running game. But since that week four win, the Nebraska product is yet to top 54 yards.
While the offensive line succeeded in protecting Stafford on Monday, they failed to provide enough holes for the running backs. And if this problem isn’t solved quickly, opposing defenses will begin to focus on the pass game just like they did at the end of last year.
Defense Holds Their Ground
Yes, Rodgers was on the bench. And yes, that probably made a drastic difference in the final score. Nevertheless, the Lions defense still looked strong Monday night.
The Packers running game didn’t perform terribly, rushing for 78 yards on 4.6 yards/rush. Even backup quarterback Brett Hundley played well, passing for 245 yards and posting an 86.0 passer rating. But Green Bay was still held scoreless until the final few seconds of the first-half, remained touchdown-less until the fourth quarter and only cut their deficit to 13 following a meaningless one-yard touchdown as time expired.
Detroit’s pass defense looked especially impressive, with the secondary constantly locking down the Packers receiving corps. It obviously helps when the opposing quarterback is starting his third career game, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the Lions secondary avoided the big plays that have been their kryptonite so far this year.