After a tough start to the season, the Packers bounced back in a big way against the division rival Detroit Lions. Under the lights in prime time on Monday Night Football, in front of 77,000 fans, Green Bay put up 35 points on offense and forced two turnovers on defense. There were even a few nice plays on special teams, too.
“I was proud of my guys, man. Everybody played a big role,” said receiver Davante Adams, who finished the night with eight receptions for 121 yards.
“Special teams played well,” added Adams, noting that rookie Kylin Hill’s 41-yard return was possibly the longest he’d seen in his time in Green Bay. “I wish I didn’t have to say that.”
New punter Corey Bojorquez also had a nice outing, punting three times for 140 yards with a 46.7 yard average and a long of 56. Two punts ended up inside the 20.
Adams himself had the offense’s longest play of the night, securing a 50-yard reception on a go route. “We haven’t really hit a shot this year yet, before that,” said Adams, talking about the confidence that gives the offense.
“I’m glad we came out and handled business, [got] back to playing Packer football,” said running back Aaron Jones.
Jones had four touchdowns on the night, his first home game back at Lambeau Field since the loss of his father. He caught all six of his targets for 48 yards and three scores, adding another touchdown and 67 yards on the ground in 17 attempts. It was special to not only play in front of the fans again, but to have so many of his family members there, too.
“Last year we had to bring our own juice,” Jones said of the empty stadiums during the 2020 season. “You get out there and it’s kind of like, they brought the juice for you. I love playing in front of a packed Lambeau crowd, running out of that tunnel to 80,000.”
The offense ran through Jones on Monday night, which emphasized how the running game is crucial to open up the passing game and help the rest of the offense flow.
“The run game is absolutely critical for our offense to function at the highest level,” said Head Coach Matt LaFleur. “That definitely felt good today.”
Offensive lineman Jon Runyan Jr. got the start at left guard over Lucas Patrick, and the trio of young interior linemen played well. Rodgers was sacked three times on the night, but he called at least two of them coverage sacks more than a lack of protection from his linemen. Who will start at left guard Week 3 remains up in the air, with LaFleur calling it a “competitive situation” between Runyan Jr. and Patrick.
The Packers trailed 17-14 going into halftime, but the time of possession averaged out compared to the Week 1 matchup against the Saints. Even still, Green Bay only had three drives in the first half, scoring two touchdowns and punting once.
“We’ve gotta start a little faster, for sure,” said quarterback Aaron Rodgers, especially on the road in a more hostile environment, something the team will have to deal with on Sunday Night Football against the San Francisco 49ers.
Rodgers ended the night with 22 completions on 27 attempts for 255 yards, four touchdowns, and a rating of 145.6. Three of his five incompletions were on long bombs to receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who finished the night with zero receptions.
“I missed him three times; he could’ve had three touchdowns,” Rodgers said, adding that Valdes-Scantling is the type of selfless player that deserves those opportunities because of the way he puts the team first.
With his 255 yards, Rodgers also climbed to 10th place on the NFL’s all-time passing yards list.
On the defensive side of the ball, after another slow start, things got clicking in the second half, and the defense didn’t give up any points in the game’s final 30 minutes.
“We made some key corrections at halftime,” said inside linebacker Krys Barnes. He felt the defense was more able to fly around and make plays.
One of those plays was his own fumble recovery that came on a botched snap. “If the ball’s on the ground, it’s ours,” Barnes said of the defense’s mentality.
Fellow inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell had the team’s second turnover of the half when he intercepted a wobbly pass from Jared Goff, the result of a pressure from edge rusher Jonathan Garvin. It was the defense’s first interception of the season.
Campbell said in his post-game presser that he felt defensive coordinator Joe Barry puts the team in a good position to be successful, and it’s just on them to make the plays.
“It’s a long season. You can’t let a few mishaps here and there define who you are as a team,” said Campbell, adding that the team has “a lot of football left.”
Another standout on defense was rookie first-round pick Eric Stokes, who had two key pass breakups on fourth downs. He played 77% of snaps on defense after barely seeing the field in Week 1.
“Stokes made a few big-time plays,” said LaFleur. His two pass breakups led the defense, and the team finished with four total.
Up next for the Packers is a trip to the west coast for another primetime matchup. It’s the home opener for the 49ers, who are 2-0 after playing close games against the Lions and Eagles away to start the season. Packers vs 49ers kicks off from Levi’s Stadium at 7:20 p.m. CT on Sunday Night Football.
Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack’s What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.