ReFo: Lions @ Packers, Week 17
With a first round bye in the playoffs on the line, the battle for the NFC North title lived up to expectations. The first time these two teams met in Detroit it was a defensive struggle with a final score of 19-7. This time around figured to be more of the same with the weather a factor at Lambeau Field.
The Packers opened up the scoring with a 55 yard punt return from Micah Hyde and followed it up with a Randall Cobb four yard touchdown before the half. That pass would prove to be the story line of the game though as Aaron Rodgers would reinjure his calf on the play and be taken to the locker room. The Lions seized the opening and came roaring back, scoring on back-to-back drives before and after half time to even up the score at 14-14.
After missing two series’ Rodgers would return and showed no signs of the injury affecting his play. The quarterback led three straight long drives ending in a touchdown, a blocked field goal, and a touchdown. The 28-14 lead late in the fourth and despite a crazy recovery of an onside free kick by Detroit, Green Bay came away with the 30-20 victory. The Lions will travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys next Sunday in the late game while the Packers await the Wild Card results to find out who they’ll play in two weeks.
Detroit Lions- Performances of Note
Matthew Stafford, QB: -3.3
Breakdown: A completion percentage under 50% is usually an indicator of poor performance and Stafford’s grade reflects his generally inaccuracy throughout. Stafford just missed too many throws, with two possible game changing throws that stood out about the rest. The first was a deep post route that would have likely been a touchdown from Calvin Johnson which was overthrown midway through the second quarter. The second throw came later in that same drive when on foruth down he threw a wildly off-target throw over Golden Tate’s head.
Signature Stat: Stafford completed just 8-of-17 passes for 78 yards on throws targeted within 0-10 yards of the line of scrimmage.
Glover Quin, S: -2.6
Breakdown: The PFF Pro Bowl starter picked a bad time for his lowest graded game of the season. After two straight games without a catch allowed, Quin yielded three for 34 yards to go along with a holding penalty on Sunday. His real struggles arose when he was wrapping up ball carriers though as he missed a career high four tackles, matching his total for the season heading into the game.
Signature Stat: Before Sunday, Quin hadn’t missed more than one tackle in a game since 2011
Eric Ebron, TE: -3.2
Breakdown: A very quiet rookie season for the 10th overall pick finishes on a particularly sour note. Ebron got beat up as a run blocker and was little factor in the passing game despite tying his career high with 38 receiving yards. The Lions ran a few counters and designed bounce outs that went nowhere because of his poor blocking on the edge. He also dropped a ball and was only able to haul in two of his six targets.
Signature Stat: On the very first play from scrimmage, Ebron pulled to the back side on a split zone run. The rookie was supposed to kick out right to block outside linebacker Nick Perry and open up a cutback lane, but instead he whiffed and allowed tackle for short gain.
Green Bay Packers – Performances of Note
Mike Daniels, DE: +3.0
Breakdown: After a few down games, Daniels was back to form on Sunday. The defensive end created havoc on the Lions front with routine penetration into the backfield. He collected a sack and a hit to go along with two stops in the running game. The stats don’t quite do him justice though as he beat multiple blocks against both the run and the pass, but didn’t finish them with pressures or stops.
Signature Play: On a handoff to the left with 2:16 left in the second quarter, Daniels stacked right guard Garrett Reynolds at the snap, sending him two yards deep in the backfield and almost tripping up the pulling tight end. Daniels then worked his way down the line, closing off the intended point of attack and forcing Reggie Bush to reverse fields into the waiting arms of Morgan Burnett
Aaron Rodgers, QB: +3.4
Breakdown: This one looked like it was heading to a much different outcome after Rodgers pulled up holding his leg on a touchdown pass late in the second quarter. Nothing about the injury looked minor, but the quarterback was able to return and play near perfect football with just a single incomplete targeted pass (Q4-11:32) in the second half. The defense dictated short throws and Rodgers was happy to continue taking them. He didn’t attempt a single target over 20 yards downfield and had just five (all completed) over 10 yards down field.
Signature Stat: Rodgers worked the middle of the field all day long, completing 15-of-16 passes there for 213 yards and a +3.9 grade.
Casey Hayward, CB: +2.2
Breakdown: Not a bad day for the Hayward who capped off a solid bounce back season in style on Sunday. The Packers’ dime back allowed three catches for 21 yards, broke up two passes and had two stops. Hayward ended the season as the most infrequently targeted cornerback in the NFL, with a target every 10.6 coverage snaps.
Signature Play: Hayward is one of the elite underneath zone defenders in the game and he showed why on a critical third-and-10 with 3:16 left in the third quarter. Matthew Stafford was staring down Reggie Bush on a slant five yard slant and Hayward broke to the inside for the ball before Bush even broke on his route. The result was a near interception that got pulled away by Bush at the last second.
PFF Game Ball
Aaron Rodgers was the difference in the game for the Packers and gave a lights out performance on Sunday.
Follow Mike on Twitter: @PFF_MikeRenner