National Football League
Lions looked every bit the part of a contender in emphatic win over Packers
National Football League

Lions looked every bit the part of a contender in emphatic win over Packers

Updated Sep. 29, 2023 5:43 p.m. ET

The Detroit Lions look like everything they were hyped up to be.

They stormed into Lambeau Field, on short rest, for a Thursday Night prime-time matchup and absolutely dominated the home team.

The Lions have now won their last four matchups with the Packers. They handed Aaron Rodgers his last loss at Lambeau, and Thursday night, they handed Jordan Love his first.

At the half, Detroit had more points (27) than Green Bay had total yards (21). They so wholly and completely controlled the game that Packers fans were booing their own team.


Detroit won 34-20 by winning the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. 

Offensively, after an early interception by quarterback Jared Goff, the offense made some adjustments and decided to utilize running back David Montgomery, who returned from injury prior to Thursday night's game. The Lions adjusted to the injuries they had along the line too; with Halapoulivaati Vaitai out and Taylor Decker playing through injury, Detroit deployed a lot of multiple-tight-end groupings to help out its linemen and keep the ground game going.

In the first half, the Lions had a 55.5% rushing success rate, according to Next Gen Stats. They had 85 rushing yards after the first quarter alone. Montgomery tallied two rushing touchdowns before halftime. On one of them, the blocking scheme was so comprehensive that Montgomery basically walked into the end zone, thanks to blocks by tight ends Sam LaPorta and Brock Wright along with wide receiver Josh Reynolds.

The Lions scored just once in the second half, but they had set themselves up so completely in the first half, the 27-3 lead was enough to sustain them.

Defensively, the Lions might have been even better. After taking just three sacks through the first three weeks of the season and facing the second-lowest pressure rate of any quarterback in the league coming into the game, Love was sacked five times. He was hit another 11 times. The Lions managed a 40% pressure rate on Green Bay's offensive line and Love. Second-year defensive end Aidan Hutchinson recorded his second straight multi-sack game, picking up 1.5 sacks after registering two in the Lions' win over the Falcons in Week 3.

Even more encouraging seems to be the emergence of defensive tackle Alim McNeill, who added a sack of his own. This seems to be the much-anticipated breakout season for the interior lineman. Paired next to Isaiah Buggs, who is also playing inspired football, registering a sack himself, the Detroit pass rush looks unstoppable. The interior pressure is making life easy for guys like Hutchinson and even John Cominsky, and forcing opposing offensive lines to make some tough decisions.

Green Bay decided to make it interesting in the second half. Love engineered a 12-play, 86-yard touchdown drive and a two-point conversion later, the Packers cut the Detroit lead from 27-3 to 27-11. On the next Packer possession, Love got his team to the end zone again and ran it in himself from nine yards out. The two-point conversion failed, but Green Bay had pulled to 27-17 at the start of the fourth quarter (even if they stole a play when the clock hit zero in the third quarter).

But the Lions didn't back down. And despite CJ Gardner-Johnson being on injured reserve, cornerback Emmanuel Moseley not able to play and safety Kerby Joseph also out, the Detroit secondary complemented the unit up front. Rookie defensive back Brian Branch was in and out of the game with an injury of his own, but it didn't matter. Cornerback Jerry Jacobs ended up with not one but two interceptions of Love, doubling his season total. Jacobs snatched the first out of the air after a tip by linebacker Alexander Anzalone. But the second was all Jacobs, and sealed the game for the Lions as the Packers were driving to get one of the two scores needed to come back in the fourth quarter. Jacobs became the first Lions cornerback to have two interceptions in Green Bay since Dick LeBeau in 1968

Last season, the defense was what held the Lions back — especially the pass defense. Now, they're the reason the Lions are winning games. They held the Packers to just 15 first downs. They allowed just three third-down conversions on 11 attempts. Green Bay managed just 27 rushing yards in a game that saw Aaron Jones return. Detroit registered eight tackles for loss.

The offense is averaging 26.5 points per game this season, which is a lot less than the 35 points a game they were averaging through the first four games in 2022, but now, it's enough. The defense is holding up their end of the deal.

And because of it, Detroit is the contender its fans hoped to see — with some swagger, too.

Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen had previous stops with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, which added the title of Super Bowl Champion (and boat-parade participant) to her résumé. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.


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