Monday, October 07, 2013

Packers beat Lions, lose Clay Matthews and other linebackers

The Green Bay Packers did what they needed to do yesterday at Lambeau Field: they beat the NFC North Division leading Detroit Lions, 22-9, to pull within one-half game of the top spot. They also moved to within a half-game of Da Bearz. It was an especially great defensive performance, sacking Lions QB Matthew Stafford five times and holding the fourth-highest scoring offense in the league to just nine points.

However, the win came at a price. Starting linebacker Brad Jones went down with -- what else? -- a hamstring injury; his status is still unclear. His backup and special teams standout, Robert Francois, blew out his Achilles and is done for the season. Near the end of the third quarter, uber-linebacker extraordinaire, Clay Matthews, broke a thumb on a sack of Stafford. Late today, it was reported that Matthews will have surgery on the thumb and be out at least a month. It's possible the Packers could use their one special injured reserve spot with return after six weeks to open up a position for another player while Matthews heals. Obviously, no matter who that player is, the Packers' defense took a hit with the loss of Matthews, as well as Jones and Francois. Other players will have to step up big time.

As to the Packers' offense, it did what it needed to do. Aaron Rodgers was his efficient self throwing for a tad under 300 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Eddie Lacy rushed for 99 yards. Randall Cobb ran out of the backfield for 60+ yards on one play. James Jones caught the longest TD pass and play from scrimmage this season, 83 yards. Jordy Nelson made acrobatic catches that are becoming his trademark. Mason Crosby tied a franchise record by kicking five field goals; he hasn't missed a field goal attempt yet this season.

But the offense had to settle for field goals the two times it got into the red zone yesterday. This has been a disturbing pattern so far this season: not finishing drives or capitalizing on turnovers...the latter played a role in the loss to the Bengals last week.

Still, a win is a win, especially over a division opponent.

Oh, and did I mention this was the 23rd consecutive time that the Lions have lost on Wisconsin soil? They came in roaring...they left meowing.

Next up for the Pack will be a road trip to Baltimore to take on the 3-2 Ravens. Check back here during the week for more about Packer developments and game previews.