Make it 23 consecutive flights across the pond without a win for the Detroit Lions. The Packers got a club record tying five field goals from Mason Crosby, one huge play on offense and plenty of defense against a Lion offense without Calvin Johnson to score a badly needed 22-9 victory today before a Lambeau Field record crowd of 78,200. The victory evens the Green Bay record at 2-2 and coupled with a New Orleans victory over the Bears in Chicago, pulls them even in the loss column in the NFC North with still a very long way to go. It was a lot of fun what with the Wisconsin Badger band and plenty of breast cancer awareness month pink splashing the stadium floor.
The biggest storyline of the game occurred before the game as Calvin Johnson was de-activated because of a knee injury. Arguably the biggest receiving threat in the league, having the Megatron in sweats on the sidelines took a big tooth of the Lions' bite. Even without Johnson, there was still Matthew Stafford and Reggie Bush but the Packers defense wouldn't let either beat them. Stafford was sacked five times and Bush was held to 69 total yards, 44 of the ground, 25 more on four receptions. Detroit would manage only a 53 yard David Akers field goal just before the half, and a Kris Durham 13 yard touchdown catch before the 2 minute warning in the 4th quarter with the Packers already up 22-3 at that point.
The Packers offense was able to move the ball consistently, piling up 449 yards including 180 on the ground but they went 0 for 2 in the red zone and repeatedly settled for Mason Crosby field goals. Good thing Mason has his groove back. He connected on kicks of 26, 52, 31, 42 and 45 yards for a personal best handful. It took until late in the third quarter for the offense to finally hit a big play. Aaron Rodgers found James Jones behind Chris Houston for an 83 yard touchdown, the longest of Jones' career that opened up a 16-3 lead. Jones nearly had a second touchdown but a replay review found only 1 foot in play on what would have been a 24 yard score. Jones finished with 127 yards on four catches. Jordy Nelson added 82 yards on five grabs, a couple of them were spectacular tip toe jobs on the sidelines. Even more impressive was the run game. Eddie Lacy pounded out 99 yards on 23 carries and was over a hundred but a holding call took away some yardage in the closing minute. Randall Cobb operated as a running back for a third quarter series and ripped off a 67 yard dash up the sideline to set up a field goal.
It was a solid victory coming off the bye, nothing unusual for Mike McCarthy, now 7-1 in games coming off the break. Here's how the coach summed up the victory:
The game came with a price however as the inside linebacker position was hit hard by injury. McCarthy lost Brad Jones to a hamstring injury and then his backup, Robert Francois had his season come to an end with he tore his achilles tendon in the second half. Clay Matthews didn't finish the game either, leaving with a thumb injury that's not believed to be serious. As for the healthy players who did finish, here's what they had to say:
Some final numbers had Green Bay outgaining Detroit 449-286. They converted 7 of 16 third downs against the league's top third down defense. Neither team had a turnover but both Lacy and Johnathan Franklin had the ball knocked loose but Green Bay recovered both fumbles. The Packers did have 10 penalties for 72 yards, compared to 7 for 50 for Detroit. The Green Bay inactives were Casey Hayward, James Starks, Nate Palmer, Greg VanRoten, Brandon Bostick, Josh Boyd and C.J. Wilson.
In the end, the streak goes on. Detroit has gone home a loser from their Wisconsin road trip for 23 straight years, dating back to 1991. Now it's the Packers who must find happiness on the road as the brace for the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens next week.