Tom Oates: Grading the Packers’ play in their 31-24 victory over the Lions
Aaron Rodgers simply took over the game in the second half with his arm, his feet and his never-give-up attitude. Fullback Aaron Ripkowski also hurt the Lions both as a runner and a receiver. Ty Montgomery surfaced in the second half. The offense hurt itself with penalties. That doesn’t happen often.
Still trying to figure out how Clay Matthews dropped that interception. Without a pass rush, the cornerbacks are sitting ducks, and Green Bay couldn’t muster much of a pass rush on Matthew Stafford. Still, the defense didn’t collapse even when safeties were manning two of the three cornerback spots.
Special teams: B-minus
Mason Crosby, who hasn’t had many long kicks this season, drilled a 53-yarder before halftime. But a missed extra point? You don’t see that often from one of the NFL’s best kickers. Jacob Schum did a good job pinning the Lions inside the 15 on Aussie-style punts. He struggled when kicking away, though.
Mike McCarthy saw something in the defense he could exploit with power running, so he made Ripkowski the primary ballcarrier. Dom Capers’ call to use Morgan Burnett at linebacker was foiled by Zach Zenner’s inside running. Given the cornerback situation, it’s hard to blame Capers for being conservative.
With the NFC North Division title and a home playoff game on the line, the Packers beat the amped-up Lions despite losing two of their top three cornerbacks. That’s six victories in a row after a 4-6 start, one of the best recoveries in team history. Now it’s on to the playoffs with a full head of steam.