Lambeau Field was the classroom for the Detroit Lions’ Thursday night test against the Green Bay Packers. By game’s end, with a 34-20 victory for Detroit in hand, it was evident they came prepared. It’s time to pull out the red pen and grade their performance. Which units excelled and who were the standout students? Let’s dive into the report card:
Running Backs: A+
David Montgomery was the star, with 32 attempts yielding 121 yards and 3 touchdowns. Few predicted that he would see a workhorse-workload just days after missing a game due to a thigh injury, but his remarkable 113 yards after contact underscored a performance defined by toughness. Montgomery’s relentless running style embodies the team’s gritty identity.
The commitment to the run was evident and strategic. By dominating the ground game, the Lions not only accumulated yards but also controlled the clock. This approach kept the Packers’ offense sidelined and showcased the Lions’ physicality.
Offensive Line: A-
Despite dealing with injuries, the offensive line stood tall, giving up only 2 sacks. They were instrumental in clearing the way for the Lions’ running backs, who collectively rushed for a whopping 211 yards against the Packers. Their performance on the night was indicative of a group that has a ton of chemistry that accompanies its toughness, setting the tone for the offense.
Taylor Decker’s return proved pivotal. His influence on the line was clear, enhancing both pass protection and run blocking. Frank Ragnow’s name is now uttered in the conversation for the league’s best centers, courtesy of his consistent, dominant performances that elevate the entire unit.
Jared Goff completed 19 of his 28 passes for 210 yards, including a touchdown and an interception. His ability to bounce back after mistakes, showcased by an impressive drive following an early interception, highlights his leadership and composure.
In the hostile environment of Lambeau, Goff managed the offense calmly and effectively. His decision-making and poise under pressure ensured the Lions kept the chains moving, controlling the game’s tempo and keeping the Packers’ defense on their heels.
Wide Receivers: B+
The receiving corps was reliable, with Goff spreading the ball to five different wideouts. Josh Reynolds and Amon- Ra St. Brown were particularly impactful, delivering crucial catches that sustained drives. The group’s ability to create separation and secure catches on key plays was a highlight.
Anticipation is building for the return of Jameson Williams in Week 5. His reintroduction adds another dimension to the passing attack, promising to stretch opposing defenses and provide Goff with an additional weapon.
Tight Ends: A-
LaPorta was targeted 5 times and made 4 crucial receptions for 56 yards. His steady hands and ability to gain yards after the catch have become a reliable asset for the Lions. Brock Wright also put in a commendable shift, contributing most notably in the blocking game.
Together, LaPorta and Wright are evolving into a formidable tight end duo. Their combined ability to both block and make plays adds a layer of unpredictability to the Lions’ offensive scheme, creating matchup problems for opponents.
Defensive Line: A
Aidan Hutchinson, Alim McNeill and John Cominsky orchestrated a defensive masterclass, registering 5 sacks and limiting the Packers to just 27 rushing yards. The teamed with Benito Jones and Isaiah Buggs to generate consistent pressure on Packers QB Jordan Love all night, despite minimal blitzing included in defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn’s scheme for the night. Their combined efforts disrupted the Packers’ offensive rhythm, establishing the line of scrimmage as Detroit territory.
The defensive line’s balanced performance was marked by aggression and discipline. Their ability to generate pressure without compromising run defense integrity was a key factor in the Lions’ dominant defensive display.
Derrick Barnes tallied 6 tackles, continuing his upward trajectory and making it difficult for Lions brass to get rookie Jack Campbell on the field. Barnes’ emergence has allowed Glenn and linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard to ease Campbell into his role on the defense, making the depth of the room quite impressive. Alex Anzalone added 5 tackles and a crucial pass deflection, resulting in a Jerry Jacobs interception. This unit’s energy and versatility were on full display, providing both strong run support and coverage.
Barnes is emerging as a cornerstone in the linebacker corps, showcasing impressive instincts to compliment his athleticism. Anzalone’s veteran presence and leadership are palpable, with his timely plays energizing the defense and the crowd when they need it the most.
Jerry Jacobs recorded 2 interceptions and 5 solo tackles, leading a cornerback group that is demonstrating growth. Although the unit’s second-half performance left room for improvement, key plays at pivotal moments were instrumental in the victory.
Cam Sutton’s reliability and toughness continue to anchor the secondary. On Thursday, he was the team’s highest rated defensive player in run defense, per PFF. The unit’s development is visible each week, and their contribution to limiting the Packers’ potentially potent offense with Christian Watson’s return was a notable achievement.
Brian Branch’s team-leading 7 tackles showcased his range and tackling. Tracy Walker added 4 tackles and a forced fumble, continuing his strong return from injury. His importance to the secondary cannot be understated.
The safety trio of Branch, Walker and Ifeatu Melifonwu is proving to be a reliable last line of defense. Their combined efforts in tackling, coverage, and playmaking are instrumental in reducing big plays and enhancing the overall defensive efficacy. They are expecting to welcome back budding star safety, Kerby Joseph, in week 5 against the Panthers.
Special Teams: B+
The special teams held steady, playing their part in the win. Riley Patterson nailed both his field goals and was perfect on all four extra points. Jack Fox had an off day by his standards, but there’s no real concern about his returning to form for week 5. Fox is one of the league’s best punters.
Head Coach Dan Campbell and his staff executed a well-crafted game plan, leading to a balanced and dominant performance on both sides of the ball. The team’s preparedness, adaptability, and execution spoke volumes about the coaching staff’s effectiveness.
The win at Lambeau is not just a victory but a statement. The coaching staff’s ability to have the team ready to perform, make in-game adjustments, and maintain discipline is turning the Detroit Lions into one of the NFL’s most feared teams.
Detroit Lions fans turned Lambeau Field into a sea of blue and silver, their unwavering support echoing throughout the stadium. The energy and passion from the stands fueled the players on the field, showcasing the unbreakable bond between the team and its fans.
The upcoming home game promises an electric atmosphere at Ford Field.
With a 3-1 record, the Detroit Lions have set the tone for the remainder of the season. Each unit’s contribution is a testament to the team’s depth and synergy, promising exciting times ahead for the Lions and their fans. The Carolina Panthers are up next as they square off with the Lions at Ford Field on Sunday, October 8.
For more from our Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21
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Original Photo Credit: © Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin