Packers Carve Lions on Turkey Day

Posted: November 26, 2011 by Kodi in NFL, Pack It Up

The Green Bay Packers faced the Detroit Lions in another Thanksgiving Day battle

Green Bay fans are hoping that they don’t allow the 2011 Lions the same pleasure the ’62 Detroit team had

Aaron Rodgers looks to improve as the league’s most prolific passer and the defense is keeping an eye on the ball!

Green Bay traveled to Detroit for another Thanksgiving Day battle but this time there is a lot on the line, eerily similar to the 1962 season but the Packers are hoping for a different outcome. The Packers are the only undefeated team left in the NFL and the Detroit Lions were neck and neck with them in the NFC North through the first 5 games. Detroit hit a rough patch and lost 3 of 5 games and need to repeat history to have a shot at winning their first division title since 1993 and a win would help them make the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

Green Bay was 10-0 under Head Coach Vince Lombardi in the 1962 season and former Packer great Jerry Kramer started to see the similarities early between the game they played in that season and the game this year. “I started looking at it about 3 or 4 weeks ago and started realizing they’re going to play their 11th game on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit just like we did” the legendary offensive lineman went on to explain that it “could be a bloodbath, it was 50 years ago”. The Packers had beaten the Lions earlier in the ’62 season 9-7 but in the rematch on Turkey Day Green Bay found themselves down 26-0 and eventually lost the game 26-14.

The Detroit Lions defense absolutely dominated Kramer and the rest of the Packers offensive line recording 11 sacks on Hall of Famer Green Bay QB Bart Starr. Starr also threw 2 interceptions and was sacked for a safety but the Motor City Kitties didn’t stop there, they also picked up a fumble and returned it for a TD. It turned out to be the only blemish on the Packers schedule and they went on to win their second consecutive NFL Championship and finish the season 14-1.

Kramer however didn’t finish his interview without giving one final jab to the Lions, “if you look at that ’62 game, the only thing they’ve won in half a century is a game against the Green Bay Packers . . . It’s the only thing they have to brag about. We went on to win championships and we did our thing. That was their high-water mark. That’s how teams think when they play champions”.

HC Mike McCarthy has done a great job of keeping his team from looking ahead and to take this season one game at a time. “We know it’s a tough opponent, we’re expecting a tough game” Packers QB Aaron Rodgers said. “It’s always difficult when you’re playing on the road and a good team, division opponent, a common opponent. We’re confident. We know what kind of game we’re in for”. It will be the 164th matchup between the Lions and Packers and until Rodgers was removed from last year’s game due to a concussion Green Bay was on a 10 game winning streak against Detroit.

The first half of the game wasn’t what many fans and analysts had expected from two of the best offenses in the league but going into half the Packers had a 7-0 lead. Green Bay was given the ball inside the Lions 15 after DL Ryan Pickett made an incredible play to get his 315+ pound body get off the ground and tip a pass intended for Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew. Packers LB Clay Mathews had dropped back into coverage and when Pickett tipped the ball Mathews quickly ran under it to intercept his 2nd career pass. Two plays later Rodgers found WR Greg Jennings for a 3 yard TD and the Packers had the only score of the half with less than 5:00 in the game. It was Jennings 50th TD since the 2007 season (including playoffs) which is the 3rd most in the NFL, and if you follow him on Twitter you know that he just wants to #BeGreat and he is.

Green Bay’s Punter Tim Masthay made a big play last week against Tampa Bay but it was for all the wrong reasons. Masthay had to pull down a punt attempt and run for a first down, which he did, after fumbling the ball twice in less than 5 seconds but retaining possession. This week Masthay made the cut because Green Bay didn’t score much in the first half and he had 4 punts in the 1st half that were incredible, or as incredible as a punt may be. He did punt the ball five times but 4 of those were inside the 20 while the 5th could have been if the coverage team hadn’t slapped it into the end-zone.

Green Bay had differed the opening kickoff and the Packers got the ball to begin the 2nd half and they stormed downfield behind a 26 yard catch from TE Jermichael Finley and two 19 yard receptions by Jennings. The Packers were facing a 3rd and 3 from inside the 5 but Rodgers was unable to hit TE Andrew Quarless however the Packers still picked up the first down. That’s because Lions DT Ndamukong Suh had slammed OL Evan Dietrich-Smith’s head and arm into the ground and while he was being taken off of Josh Sitton’s replacement he decided to kick him while he was down.

Suh was penalized and disqualified from the game, for the 2nd time in his career, but unlike DT Albert Haynesworth’s apologies for his fierce kick, Suh denied that there was any malicious intent. “I’m first and foremost only going to apologize to my teammates, my coaches and my true fans for allowing the refs to have an opportunity to take me out of this game” Suh said in his press-conference after the game. “What I did was remove myself from the situation in the best way I felt . . . I was on top of a guy being pulled down and trying to get up off the ground. Why you see me pushing his helmet down [is] because I’m trying to remove myself from the situation. And as I’m getting up, I’m getting pushed so I’m getting myself on balance and getting out og the situation” Suh explained.

Suh had quite the impact on the game because rather than giving up a field goal the Suh penalty allowed the Packers another 3 chances from inside the 5 yard line. Green Bay eventually pounded it in with RB John Kuhn and that was the start to a 17 point 3rd quarter. An interception by reserve LB Robert Francois set up a 65 yard TD to WR James Jones on the next play. Green Bay had jumped to a 21-0 lead and Lions QB Matt Stafford tried to get his team back into the game behind is arm but just 3 plays after his last interception he threw another to Packers CB Charles Woodson, his 6th of the season. A sack by Lions Clint Avril forced Rodgers to fumble the ball but Packers OL Brian Bulaga, who allowed Avril by, was able to pick up the ball and allow the Packers to kick a 34 yard field goal.

The following drive the Lions scored on a 16 yard run by RB Keiland Williams and successfully converted their 2 point attempt when Stafford found WR Titus Young in the end-zone. Two short drives later the Packers had the ball with 8:25 to play and a two score lead, 24-8. Behind RB Ryan Grant and rookie RB Brandon Saine the Packers ran 10 plays killing nearly 6 minutes and adding a 32 yard field goal by K Mason Crosby. Detroit got the ball back and worked its way downfield and sealed the game off with a worthless 3 yard TD catch by WR Calvin Johnson with just 11 seconds left in the game.

It was Johnson’s 12th TD of the year, he is the NFL leader, as well as Megatron’s 8th TD against Green Bay in the last 6 games. It may not have meant a lot to the result of the game but Johnson’s 3 yard TD catch means that he has caught at least 1 TD in 4 of the last 5 Thanksgiving games. Johnson has fared well against the Packers, although his team has won just once, the outstanding WR now has 39 catches for 557 yards and 9 TDs in the 8 games he has played against Green Bay.

Green Bay’s defense gave up a plethora of yards yet again, 409 to be exact, but they caused 3 interceptions bringing their team total to 22 the most in the league. Green Bay did a great job adjusting to injuries on both sides of the ball but the defense lost two of its starting linebackers. A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop both were sidelined with injuries and reserve LBs D.J. Smith and Robert Francois came in and stepped up. CB Tramon Williams said “that’s what this team is built on. Guys go down, guys step in and do an excellent job, and it was no different today”. Sadly the Packers may have to dig deeper into their LB depth because on Friday morning LB Erik Walden was arrested on a felony complaint of assaulting his girlfriend and will be in jail until Monday at the least.

Evan Dietrich-Smith may have had the biggest impact after replacing starting OL Josh Sitton the young man came in and played admirably. He was abused by Suh getting his face jammed into the turf and was eventually kicked but that play resulted in Suh getting kicked out of the game and the Packers receiving a 1st and goal on the 3 rather than being forced to kick a field goal on 4th down. Sitton and the rest of the Packers offensive line allowed Rodgers to go 22-33 for 307 yards and throw 2 TDs while being sacked just 2 times.

Green Bay will undergo more and more scrutiny as they get closer to 16-0 but hopefully the LB problems on defense are minimal and DC Dom Capers and HC Mike McCarthy figure it out. Green Bay will play the New York Giants next week in search of extending the franchises longest winning streak and improve their season record and inch closer to their inevitable division title. “We’re 11-0. Once you get to 11 wins, 10 wins, you can see that division championship in sight. After that, it’s homefield advantage. After that, it’s Super Bowl. Let’s win the division and then we’ll concentrate on goal No.2” McCarthy told the press.


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