Grading the Packers: Defense marked down for getting tricked twice; coaches lauded for balancing rest, rust

by 24USATVJan. 10, 2022, noon 18
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Jim Polzin grades the Green Bay Packers’ performance in their 37-30 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Ford Field in Detroit.

Aaron Rodgers (135.6 passer rating) was sharp in one half of action, though the Packers were handed great field position on their second possession of the game and Rodgers and Co. went three-and-out and had to punt. Both A.J. Dillon and Patrick Taylor, who scored his first NFL touchdown, ran hard. A fumble by Juwann Winfree in the third quarter was the first turnover by the Green Bay offense since a game against Seattle on Nov. 14. Jordan Love then proceeded to add two interceptions to that turnover total, ruining what had been a promising half for the backup quarterback.

Instant analysis: Packers enter postseason with unanswered questions after loss to Lions in finale

The Packers fell for two trick plays that led to long touchdown passes, one in each half. Detroit rolled up 404 total yards and Green Bay had a particularly difficult time covering Amon-Ra St. Brown, who was targeted 10 times and finished with eight catches for 109 yards and a score. One important note: The defense was far from full strength, with the biggest absence being inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell.

Linebacker Tipa Galeai didn’t bite for a fake punt in the first quarter and was in position to make a play. Mason Crosby missed an extra point but converted his only field goal attempt from 36 yards. Rookie Amari Rodgers had a good punt return early in the second half but his decision to bring the final kickoff of the game out of the end zone cost the Packers three yards and, more importantly, seven seconds.

Packers coach Matt LaFleur was in a tough spot. While Lions coach Dan Campbell pulled out all the stops, LaFleur really had nothing to gain from this game and did a good job of giving key players the appropriate amount of rest. Giving Rodgers and Davante Adams a half of work was smart.

While a 14th win of the season would have been nice, the most important thing for the Packers was that their Super Bowl hopes didn’t get derailed with an injury to Rodgers, Adams or nose tackle Kenny Clark. Mission accomplished in that regard, plus LaFleur limited the amount of rust that could have built up if he rested his key players heading into a bye week.

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