Things looked good for the Detroit Lions when kicker Jason Hanson drilled a 27-yard field goal with 4:25 to play, giving the Lions a 20-14 lead.
After all, Detroit’s defense had been solid to that point, surrendering just seven points to a potent Green Bay offense (the Packers’ other seven points came on an interception return).
It was at this point that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers took control of the game, driving down the field and scoring the game-winning touchdown with 1:55 left. Mason Crosby would later add a 39-yard field goal to run the score to 24-20, dropping the Lions’ record to 4-6.
The decimated defense gave the Lions a chance to win, and limited Green Bay to 16 first downs and 314 total yards.
It was the play of the offense that will be held accountable for this heartbreaking loss.
Missing defensive players Louis Delmas, Corey Williams, Bill Bentley, and Amari Spievey, the defense still gave an inspired effort led by DT Nick Fairley. Fairley played the
best game of his NFL career, sacking Rodgers twice and forcing a fumble as well. Despite all of my criticism, it seems that Fairley is finally growing up and becoming the player that the Lions brass thought he would be.
Fairley and the defensive front played well, but the secondary was hurt by the absence of their stars Delmas, Spievey, and Bentley. The game-winning score came on a 22-yard pass from Rodgers to Randall Cobb, on a play where corner Jacob Lacey never located the ball.
Cobb made a good play to catch the ball, but Lions fans will point to the fact that Lacey shouldn’t have been put in that situation to begin with.
Matthew Stafford and the Detroit offense sputtered and stalled from the beginning in this game. They suffered from dropped balls, turnovers and inaccurate throws from their quarterback. Stafford missed as many throws in this game as I can remember him ever missing. Two stuck out to me, and both would have gone for a Calvin Johnson touchdown.
Stafford finished just 17-of-39 for 266 yards and a touchdown. He also turned the ball over three times, including an interception that M.D. Jennings returned 72 yards to the house. Stafford can’t be blamed entirely for the turnovers, as the pick-six went off both hands of tight end Tony Scheffler, who struggled along with Stafford in this game. The fumble Stafford lost was also a tough turnover, as LB Dezmon Moses made a great play to strip Stafford of the ball just as Stafford took off to run.
Had Moses not forced the fumble, Stafford had all kinds of real estate in front of him.
This was just one example of a play that the Packers made and the Lions didn’t. Detroit once again lost the turnover battle by a convincing -3 margin. When it came time for the offense to step up and convert a third down, they were just 6-of-15.
Matthew Stafford is the future of the Lions franchise, no questions asked. Stafford will be the starter in Detroit for a long time, and hopefully he can lead the Lions to many playoff runs in the future.
But right now, he isn’t getting it done.
The coaching staff needs to address this problem and work with Stafford so he can improve and gain confidence. There are times when Stafford looks cool and composed in the pocket, and other times when he looks like a nervous rookie. Part of this is his offensive line, but most of it is on him.
It’s over for the Lions. Now it’s time for the coaches to coach this team to get better each and every week.
That all starts with Matt Stafford.
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