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After a shaky first half on Monday night, the Green Bay Packers used massive advantages to do what needed to be done: beat an inferior opponent at home and successfully respond to the Week 1 disaster.
The Packers scored 21 straight points in the second half to beat the visiting Detroit Lions, 35-17.
Just as Week 1’s 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints wasn’t the end of the world, Monday’s win over the Lions won’t guarantee a trip to the Super Bowl. This team is in the infant stages of building towards something bigger. Beating a division opponent at Lambeau Field is just one step in the process.
Still, refocusing this week and bouncing back was important. The Packers got whipped in the season opener, and 35-point losses can sometimes shake the collective confidence of a football team. The Packers didn’t start fast on Monday night but the offense eventually imposed its will and the defense delivered a bunch of stops in the second half. It was a strong response over the final 30 minutes.
Then again, the Lions lack game-tilting talent at wide receiver and cornerback. In fact, Dan Campbell’s team might be one of the least talented teams in football. Beating this Lions team at Lambeau Field, especially in the rain, has to be fully expected for a team with Super Bowl hopes, and the Packers weren’t particularly impressive – especially on defense – even in an 18-point win.
The Packers didn’t play well in the first half, and they were down four points and facing 3rd-and-12 in the third quarter. It took an Aaron Rodgers bomb to Davante Adams to spark everything back to life. The Packers scored the game’s final 21 points and delivered five consecutive stops on defense – thanks in large part to Jared Goff’s inability to handle the rain – to win the game.
The Lions fought hard but ran out of gas, especially after losing rookie cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu in the second half. There just wasn’t enough coverage talent left to stop Rodgers and Adams in key spots. And the Packers did a terrific job scheming up touches for Aaron Jones, who scored four touchdowns. Goff’s turnovers were the dagger for a team that probably had to be perfect on offense to spring the upset.
The big early tests are coming. The Packers have a short week and then a long trip to San Francisco for a primetime game against the 2-0 49ers on Sunday night. Kyle Shanahan’s offense has the horses to really put the pressure on Joe Barry’s defense. A week later, the Packers welcome the Pittsburgh Steelers to Lambeau Field. We’ll learn a lot about the offense and defense over the next two weeks.
The Packers didn’t over-react in an overly negative way to Week 1, and they can’t over-react in an overly positive way to Week 2. LaFleur’s team will need to play a more complete game to beat the 49ers in San Francisco next week.
On Monday night, the Packers prioritized resiliency and winning a division game. Mission accomplished.