On Now
Coming Up
  • Sat., May. 02, 2015 11:00 AM - 8:00 PM CDT Packers' 2015 NFL Draft Party Evolution is located at 233 E. Chicago St., Milwaukee, Wis. Event parking is available in the parking structure next door (225 E. Chicago St.), where full day parking passes will be $10.
  • Sun., May. 03, 2015 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM CDT Jared Abbrederis appearance

    Staff Appreciation Week

  • Tue., May. 26, 2015 7:00 AM - 7:00 PM CDT Green Bay Packers Blood Drive

    Green Bay Packers Blood Drive

    Sponsor code – Packers

  • Sun., May. 31, 2015 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM CDT Packers Coaching School

    The Green Bay Packers are set to host the team’s second annual “Green Bay Packers Coaching School” at Lambeau Field on Sunday, May 31, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    The complimentary coaching school has a curriculum exclusively designed for youth football coaches, and can accommodate a maximum of 300 coaches. The event will feature innovative classroom sessions in the Lambeau Field Atrium, as well as on-field football instruction from top local high school and youth football coaches in the Don Hutson Center.

  • Sat., Jun. 06, 2015 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM CDT Junior Power Pack Kids Clinic The 18th annual Junior Power Pack Kids Clinic is set for Saturday, June 6, inside the Don Hutson Center, the Packers’ indoor practice facility.
  • Sat., Jun. 20, 2015 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM CDT Jared Abbrederis appearance 11th Annual Youth Football Golf Outing

News

Print
RSS

Young defenders made big plays in Packers’ win over Lions

Posted Nov 18, 2012


DETROIT—The Green Bay Packers said all week it would be a collective effort on defense to replace the injured Clay Matthews, and that’s what they got on Sunday in Detroit.

Name a big play on defense in the 24-20 victory at Ford Field and it was almost without fail made by a young defender on this ascending unit.

There was M.D. Jennings’ 72-yard interception return for a touchdown, the fifth interception of the season by Casey Hayward, a forced fumble by Dezman Moses, a fourth-down pass breakup by Jerron McMillian, and more.

You can count the years of NFL experience of those players on one hand.

“They’re some ballers,” said outside linebacker Erik Walden, an aged veteran by comparison who was credited with two of the defense’s five sacks. “Just give credit to them. The position coaches have them prepared to play. Any guy in our defensive room is expected to make plays when they’re called upon, and they’ve been able to do that all year.”

No play was bigger than Jennings’ game-changer midway through the third quarter. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford’s deep ball over the middle was a little behind tight end Tony Scheffler, who reached back and deflected the ball. Jennings was right there to snag it and take off up the far sideline with a convoy of blockers.

“We always talk about tips and overthrows,” said Jennings, a second-year player who entered the league undrafted. “The ball was tipped and I was in the right position to make a play on it.

“I saw a bunch of offensive linemen and I said, ‘Man, I can’t let an offensive lineman tackle me.’ My guys did a great job blocking to get me to the end zone.”

The play was sweet redemption for Jennings, who was on the wrong end of the “Fail Mary” pass in Seattle in Week 3. He now has a different big play attached to his name, and it gave the Packers a 14-10 lead.

The defense came up big again late in the fourth quarter, with the Lions trying to punch in a touchdown that would have iced the game. Leading 17-14 with just over four minutes left, Detroit had third-and-goal from the 9 when Stafford tried to squeeze in a tight throw to receiver Titus Young at the goal line.

Hayward, a rookie second-round pick whose second-quarter interception unfortunately didn’t result in points, was all over Young to force the incompletion and subsequent field goal that kept the Packers in it. The Lions wanted a flag, and they may have had an argument, but a lot of pushing and grabbing occurred in both secondaries throughout the game.

Green Bay’s offense responded with the go-ahead touchdown, but several players said the message on the sideline continued to be “just keep playing.” That’s what the Packers did in this four-quarter fight, all the way to the end.

McMillian, a rookie fourth-round draft pick, got beat on a couple of pass plays but was there when he was needed most, a fourth-down heave by Stafford with the Packers trying to protect a 21-20 lead. He knocked it away from Scheffler, and the Packers tacked on a final field goal.

“Guys were just finishing,” said third-year safety Morgan Burnett, another “veteran” who had an earlier third-and-goal sack to force a Lions field goal. “That was our main focus going into the week, just keep playing no matter what happens. We had to finish all four quarters today.”

Without Matthews and Charles Woodson on defense, no less. This marked the first game Matthews missed due to injury since October of 2010, and it wasn’t flawless, but five sacks, a pick-six and a 54.0 passer rating for Stafford was a heck of an effort.

“It says a lot about the character of the team a lot of our best players aren’t playing, and still we’re finding ways to win games,” veteran defensive lineman Ryan Pickett said. “Guys are coming in and playing great football. Players are stepping up and proving themselves.”

Perhaps most important, they’re not done yet.

“We’re still improving,” Walden said. “The sky’s the limit.”

Additional coverage - Nov. 18

 
blog comments powered by Disqus

You May Also Be Interested in...

Recent Videos

  • Derrick Mayes: Leadership defined '90s Packers

    (6:42) Posted 5 hours ago

    In this edition of Alumni Spotlight, Packers.com Senior Writer Mike Spofford sat down with former Packers WR Derrick Mayes. Mayes compares Notre Dame fans to Packers fans and discusses his time as a player learning from Robert Brooks, and memories of returning to Green Bay from Super Bowl XXXI.

  • Prospect Primer: WR DaVaris Daniels, Notre Dame

    (2:31) Posted 5 hours ago

    Packers.com presents 'Prospect Primer,' a video look at an assortment of draft-eligible players who attended the scouting combine in Indianapolis. Notre Dame WR DaVaris Daniels caught 49 passes for 745 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, his last year on the field.

  • Prospect Primer: OLB Zack Hodges, Harvard

    (1:52) Posted 5 hours ago

    Packers.com presents 'Prospect Primer,' a video look at an assortment of draft-eligible players who attended the scouting combine in Indianapolis. Harvard OLB Zack Hodges finished his career at Harvard as the school’s all-time sack leader with 27.