Friday, December 04, 2015

Packers Pull Off Hail Mary In Detroit: Beat Lions 27-23

Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

On the final play of the game, the Packers drew what was probably the weakest face mask penalty I've ever seen (it only looked weak on slow motion replay, at full speed it looked a lot worse) but that's not what I'm talking about by luck. How many times does a Hail Mary work? QB Aaron Rodgers said he's never thrown one before. How many times are there four fumbles in a game and the Packers recover all four of them?
The Packers are usually not a slow starting team, but this game featured one of the slowest starts I can remember from them, on both sides of the ball. The Lions easily moved down the field against the Packers' defense for their first two scoring drives, and I can't remember the last time Rodgers threw too high for a receiver and had it intercepted. The Packers looked dead in the first quarter with 38 yards of offense and 1 interception, while the Lions had three scoring drives and 133 yards of offense. Lions 17, Packers 0.

But the defense came alive in the second quarter and forced four Lions punts, though the Packers' offense remained scoreless. Both teams were hurt by their inability to run the ball, and the Lions are hurt just as badly as the Packers by their lack of depth at wide receiver. Here are some of the first half stats and it's real ugly for the Packers' offense:
Team Yards 3rd Down % Turnovers Score
Packers 78 0% 1 0
Lions 151 29% 0 17
The Lions started the second half off with a 71 yard drive that led to another field goal, and it pushed their lead up to 20-0, but then they only had 84 yards on their next four drives combined, including a strip sack fumble that set up the Packers' second touchdown. While they did score another field goal in the fourth quarter, their offense had four chances to put the game out of reach and the Packers' defense stopped them.

As for the offense, obviously this was TE Richard Rodgers's game, but a lot of breaks went the Packers' way and none of these breaks were bigger than their fumble luck. While the Lions had one fumble that was recovered in their red zone, the Packers had three fumbles and they recovered them all, including a fumble by RB James Starks that was recovered by WR Randall Cobb for a touchdown.

The offense also started playing better. Even before he caught that Hail Mary pass, Richard Rodgers had around 70 yards receiving in the second half, WR Davante Adams had his first touchdown reception of the year, and Starks was good for some yards on screen passes. Rookie RB John Crockett, he was with the Packers during the preseason but was just re-signed this week, got a few carries to give the offense their best rushing yards (other than Aaron Rodgers's touchdown scramble) of the night.

So the Packers played what was probably their worst all-around quarter of the season in the first quarter, trailed 17-0, and then managed to do just enough on offense (along with a little fumble luck) to get themselves in place for the game winning Hail Mary pass. In the end, there are no style points and it's all about which team gets the W, but this was one of the least impressive wins I can remember and I don't feel like this 2015 team has turned a corner. I don't think their season would have been over if they'd lost this game either, but they need at least 10 wins from somewhere to make the playoffs (maybe 9 wins would get them in too) and this gets them a third of the way there.

Now the Packers get a little time off and don't play again until Sunday night, December 13th, at Lambeau against the Cowboys. And I'll be there! Freezing my butt off no doubt but I'll be having a great time. Hopefully I lose my voice and watch the Packers earn their ninth win of the season.

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