The Detroit Lions took it to the Green Bay Packers early, and they closed them out late. That’s all you could realistically want from a team facing its divisional rival on the road in primetime, but now it’s what we’ve come to expect.
The Lions have asserted their dominance over the division, they sit at 3-1 atop everyone but the Eagles and 49ers in the conference, and we get to enjoy this one for the next 10 days.
Here are my grades for the Lions’ Week 4 victory over the Packers.
Jared Goff started the night with a horrible interception, but as has been the case all season, he quickly put that behind him. On the very next drive, Goff went 3-of-3 for 62 yards and a touchdown. The drive after that, Goff went 1-for-2 for 23 yards and added a pivotal 11 yards on an impressive scramble.
Overall, it wasn’t his most productive day, and he took a couple of sacks he probably could have avoided, but he also made this ridiculous play:
Overall, a solid day from QB1.
Running backs: B+
David Montgomery came back just in time. Check out this ridiculous NextGenStat: Montgomery had 113 yards after contact—the most in his career. That means when the offensive line wasn’t up to snuff, he was still creating extra yardage out there, and it really showed. Montgomery also seemed to be the team’s cure to short-yardage situations, whether he was converting third-and-shorts or plunging into the end zone in goal line situations.
Tight ends: B+
LaPorta’s streak of five catches in each game came to a end... but he was still a huge force in this game with his four catches and 56 yards, which included 32 yards after the catch. The rookie continues to be a chain mover and is so strong and aggressive hands (we’ll forgive the one drop).
Blocking still is a bit of an issue for the entire group, but if LaPorta keeps balling out in the passing game, I’m going to largely overlook those issues.
Wide receivers: A-
It wasn’t a dominating day from the Lions receivers, but Amon-Ra St. Brown had a couple of clutch, chain-moving catches, while Josh Reynolds just seems to produce a big play exactly when the Lions need one. His diving catch on the team’s final scoring drive really felt like the final nail in the Packers’ coffin.
Offensive line: A-
It wasn’t a completely clean day, as the Lions allowed a pair of sacks, and Green Bay tallied four other tackles for loss on the day. But by and large, the Lions offensive line did exactly what they needed to against the Packers.
Rashan Gary only recorded a single quarterback hit. Kenny Clark was held to a tackle. The Lions dared anyone else on the defensive front to make a play, and for the most part—they didn’t.
And while Montgomery was producing a lot of his own yards early in the game, late in the contest, you could literally see the Packers’ defensive line give in.
Defensive line: A+
The Packers came into this game with PFF’s No. 1 offensive line in the league (ridiculous it wasn’t the Eagles, in my opinion). And while they were shorthanded on Thursday, that hadn’t stopped them from being an elite pass protecting unit through three weeks.
Against the Lions, it was a completely different story. Again, the Lions shared the wealth with sacks, as Aidan Hutchinson, Alim McNeill, Isaiah Buggs, John Cominsky, and Charles Harris all got in on the action. Most impressive, though, was how the Lions defensive front got after it without the need for blitzing.
The @Lions defense has pressured Jordan Love on nearly half of his dropbacks, without blitzing on a single play.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 29, 2023
Every Packers offensive lineman has allowed at least one pressure so far tonight.
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Oh, and they also completely took away the Packers’ running game, holding the Packers to just 27 yards on 12 carries.
After this unit got called out following the Seahawks game, they’ve suddenly been dominant.
Alex Anzalone’s fantastic coverage and pass deflection led to an early interception from Jerry Jacobs:
Meanwhile, the rest of the crew had a relatively quiet day, but they remain a force in Detroit’s run defense. Anzalone and Derrick Barnes combined for 11 tackles on the day, ensuring that the Packers’ longest run of the day was just 9 yards.
It was a tale of two halves for the Lions secondary.
First half: 6-of-13 for 50 yards, 1 INT, four pass breakups
Second half: 17-of-23 for 196 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, two pass breakups
It was nice to see Jacobs get a pair of interceptions after a couple of rough games, but overall, the Lions secondary gave up far too many big plays in the second half that nearly got Green Bay back into the game. In the final two quarters alone, Jordan Love connected on passes of 24, 44, and 35 yards.
Still, there was more good than bad, and that’s a great sign for a beat-up secondary.
Special teams: C
Riley Patterson made all five of his kicks, although the longest was 37 yards, so his leg has really yet to be tested. However, it wasn’t Jack Fox’s best day as a punter. Two of his four punts were uncharacteristically short, and one led to a 34-yard punt return—albeit when the game was already decided. Additionally, there was another bad penalty on a punt return from Jalen Reeves-Maybin that ended up pushing Detroit back into their own 11-yard line.
That said, they made all their kicks and they didn’t give up any huge game-changing plays. They were fine.
If there was any concern that the Lions would come into this game with a target on their back and not know how to respond to a team that wanted revenge, those notions were gone after five minutes into the game. And while the Lions continue to come out a little flat to start the third quarter, credit to the staff for ensuring there was no level of panic when the Packers threatened to make it a game.
Also, credit where credit is due. Some people don’t like Dan Campbell’s aggressive nature, but by passing on a field goal late in the game and going for the touchdown on fourth-and-goal, he essentially iced the game in Detroit’s favor. Good coaches trust their players to make plays, and Campbell knew that with Montgomery should be able to get it in from 1-yard out.
Also, you know the coaching staff did a good job when opposing writers are headlining stories like this: