The Packers sit atop the NFC North all by themselves after beating the Detroit Lions 23-22 on a Monday night at Lambeau Field. Let’s take a look at the biggest takeaways from last night’s victory for the Green & Gold.
NFL Officiating Is At an All Time Worst
Let’s just get the not fun, annoying stuff out of the way. I HATE when fans, players, coaches, whoever blame referees for a loss instead of taking responsibility for their own shortcomings. That being said, what a disaster last night was. The Detroit Lions and their fans believe it or not, have a legitimate gripe against the guys in the striped outfits. There were a couple of iffy hands to the face penalties: one that allowed Rodgers to throw a gorgeous touchdown pass to Lazard down the left sideline and another that allowed the Packers to bleed the clock on the final drive and kick the game winning field goal. The Packers also got away with a pretty obvious pass interference call that Lions’ coach Matt Patricia couldn’t challenge or risk losing a timeout.
I’ll also throw it in there that the Lions’ only touchdown of the game was a questionable one yard touchdown run by Kerryon Johnson on a fourth and goal. One official signaled the Packers’ had stopped the Lions and it was first down Green Bay. Another signaled it was a touchdown. Based on the review it looked like Johnson was short of the goal line. Nonetheless it was ruled a touchdown and the image had some unfortunate similarities to the Fail Mary.
This game is the perfect summary of what officiating in the NFL in 2019 is. Which is to say it’s a disaster. What’s a catch? What is or isn’t pass interference? No one knows the answer to either of those questions. Not the officials, not the players, and certainly not Al Riveron, Senior VP of Officiating, who refuses to disagree with the officials on the field in any capacity. This pass interference challenge thing isn’t going to last long, it will be gone after this season; but it won’t remove the stain that has been NFL officiating in 2019.
Rodgers Stat Line Isn’t Impressive, but Performance Is
Any legit NFL fan knows that a players impact on a game can, and often will, go beyond the box score. Rodgers completed 62% of his passes for two touchdowns and an interception. That’s fine. What looking at the box score won’t show you is that Aaron Jones dropped a for sure touchdown down the seam, and Aaron’s only interception wasn’t his fault as a result of the Shepherd drop. Shepherd, by the way, had a night to forget with the dropped pass that resulted in the INT and he also muffed a punt that set up the Lions with great field position.
The biggest thing about Rodgers’ performance is the wide receivers he was looking to throw to. With Geronimo Allison having left mid game, and Davante Adams being out, Aaron was throwing to Marques Valdes-Scantling, Jake Kumerow, Darrius Shepherd, and Allen Lazard. They were selected in the following rounds of the NFL draft (respectively): fifth, undrafted, undrafted, and undrafted. If you just read that and said ‘oofta’ to yourself you 1) are extremely Midwestern like myself and 2) are right. MVS has shown incredible potential but other than that, it’s a tough group. Rodgers proved once again that having an elite quarterback can elevate the play of just about anyone at wide receiver.
Defense Bends but Doesn’t Break
Matt Prater is awesome. He might have won you your fantasy matchup this week. But the Lions needed touchdowns, not field goals, when they got into Packers’ territory and the redzone. Detroit but up just under 300 yards of total offense and nearly half of that came during the first two drives of the game during a couple of big plays.
With the way he started the game, the Kevin King haters were ready to come out in full force. He got burned on a couple of big places but eventually rebounded nicely and held Kenny Golladay in check for the decent part of the remainder of the game. Jaire Alexander continues to prove himself as one of the best young cornerbacks in the field, he basically took away half the field all night long. The Packers didn’t get any takeaways but they sacked Matthew Stafford three times. It was a bend but don’t break type of night for Green Bay, and when you’re going up against Aaron Rodgers, you need touchdowns; not field goals.
The Packers will try to build on a big divisional win on a short week when they take on the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field Sunday at noon.