The Good, Bad And Ugly From The Green Bay Packers’ Win Over The Detroit Lions

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No sports league fluctuates quite like the NFL.

Two weeks ago, the narrative surrounding the Green Bay Packers was whether or not they’d be in the hunt for the No. 1 pick in the 2024 draft. Today, the script has flipped to whether the NFL’s youngest team can earn a playoff spot.

The Packers went on the road Thursday and ruined Detroit’s Thanksgiving. Green Bay quarterback Jordan Love was sensational in a three-touchdown outing, the Packers’ defense was marvelous and Green Bay stunned the Lions, 29-22.

Detroit, which entered as a 7.5-point favorite, slipped to 8-3 and had its four-game winning streak over Green Bay snapped. The Packers won their second straight game, their third in four weeks and improved to 5-6.

The top seven teams in each conference make the playoffs, and Green Bay moved up to No. 8 in the NFC standings.

The Packers host defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City next week. Green Bay’s final foes opponents, though, are a combined 17-36 (.321), making a postseason push entirely possible.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly from the Packers’ win over Detroit.

THE GOOD

JORDAN LOVE: Week by week, game by game, Green Bay’s first-year starter gets better and better.

Love completed 22-of-32 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns. Love didn’t throw an interception, had a 125.5 passer rating and had a career-long 37-yard run.

Love led Green Bay to touchdowns on its first two drives. He threw touchdowns to Jayden Reed, Tucker Kraft and Christian Watson. And he was unflappable on the road against a solid defense and a raucous crowd.

“I think there’s been great steps every week, just improving, focusing on the fundamentals, execution when we get to game-time,” Love said. “Obviously, the big point for us is starting the game fast and being able to finish it. I think there’s been growth in a lot of areas.”

CHRISTIAN WATSON: No Packer has been more disappointing in 2023 than Watson. After a sensational finish to his rookie season, Watson entered Thursday’s game with just 16 catches.

Watson was sensational, though, setting season-highs in receptions (five) and yards (94) and hauling in a 16-yard touchdown.

Watson had receptions of 53 and 8 yards on the first two plays and never slowed down. This was the Watson Green Bay envisioned when it selected him in the second round of the 2022 draft, and the type of player who could take the Packers’ offense to another level.

GETTING THEIR MONEYS WORTH: Packers outside linebacker Rashan Gary signed a four-year, $107 million extension in late-October. In the four games since he had one sack, two tackles for loss and 11 total tackles.

Detroit had no answers for Gary, though, as the former Michigan product tied his career high with 3.0 sacks. Gary had three quarterback hits, forced one fumble and recovered it.

It was a happy homecoming for Gary, who played collegiately at Michigan and tore his ACL at Detroit on Nov. 6, 2022.

FAST START: Remember when the Packers couldn’t get anything going on their opening drive of the game? That’s certainly changed in recent weeks.

Green Bay won the coin toss, took the ball and marched 75 yards in five plays for a touchdown on its first possession. Love hit Watson for 53 yards on the first play of the game, then Love capped the march with a 10-yard laser to Jayden Reed for a score.

Love then engineered a 10-play, 75-yard drive that he finished with a 9-yard TD pass to rookie tight end Tucker Kraft.

In Green Bay’s first two series, Love went 8-for-9 for 124 yards, threw two touchdowns and had a 158.3 passer rating.

HEADS UP: On the Lions’ second series, the ball came out of quarterback Jared Goff’s hands as he was making a pass.

Green Bay backup safety Jonathan Owens reacted quickly, picked up the loose ball and raced 27 yards for a touchdown. Many defenders assume loose balls like that are incomplete passes. But Owens deserves credit for never stopping and giving Green Bay a 20-6 lead.

Owens went on to have a sensational day that included a team-high 12 tackles and a tackle for loss.

TURNING UP THE HEAT: The Packers put tremendous pressure on Lions quarterback Jared Goff all day.

Late in the first quarter, outside linebacker Rashan had a strip sack of Goff and recovered the fumble himself. Then late in the second quarter, Preston Smith hit Goff’s arm and forced an incompletion on a fourth-and-4 from the Packers’ 35-yard line.

NOT BUYING IT: The Lions called a fake punt from their 23-yard line late in the third quarter. On a fourth-and-4 play, Detroit snapped the ball directly to Jalen Reeves-Maybin.

The Packers read the play perfectly, though, and rookies Lucas Van Ness and Karl Brooks dumped Reeves-Maybin for no gain.

THIS AND THAT: Green Bay punted midway through the third quarter and Packers cornerback Robert Rochell kept the ball from going in the endzone. Green Bay safety Zayne Anderson then downed the ball at the Detroit 3-yard line. … Wideout Malik Heath had one reception in 2023. He had four catches on Thursday. … Jayden Reed, who played collegiately at Michigan State, recovered a late onside kick that iced the game.

THE BAD

GETTNG GREEDY: The Packers led, 20-6, and had a fourth-and-1 from the Lions’ 14 on the first play of the second quarter. Matt LaFleur could have taken an almost certain field goal and given his team a three-score lead.

Instead, LaFleur went for it, running back A.J. Dillon was dumped for no gain, and the lead remained 20-6.

THIS AND THAT: Lions tight end Sam LaPorta beat cornerback Corey Ballentine for a 7-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter. … Quay Walker was hit with a 16-yard pass interference penalty when he was beat by running back Jahmyr Gibbs on a wheel route. … Wideout Romeo Doubs dropped a pass on third-and-4 that killed Green Bay’s opening drive of the second half.

THE UGLY

KICKING WOES: Green Bay rookie kicker Anders Carlson went 17-for-17 on field goals and extra points during the first five games. In the six games since, Carlson is just 18-for-25.

Green Bay isn’t going to cut its rookie kicker who has a dynamic leg and a world of potential. But the Packers need Carlson to be far more consistent than he’s been of late.

FROM THE INFIRMARY: Four preferred starters and two key backups were inactive for Green Bay.

Running back Aaron Jones (knee), cornerback Jaire Alexander (shoulder), safety Rudy Ford (biceps) and linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (neck) — all starters — were inactive. Tight end Josiah Deguara (hip), wideout Dontayvion Wicks (concussion/knee) and tackle Caleb Jones (healthy) were also inactive.

In addition, the Packers placed tight end Luke Musgrave (abdomen) and running back Emanuel Wilson (shoulder) on the injured reserve list earlier this week.

Green Bay’s final injury report of the week had 17 players listed, while the Lions had just four.

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