Although the Pro Bowl receiver was dealing with a calf injury of his own, Adams fully intended to be on the field Sunday to lead Green Bay’s young receiving corps into battle with Detroit.
The Packers’ top receiver looked no worse for wear against the Lions, playing nearly every offensive snap and catching nine passes for 140 yards. It was the most receiving yards Adams had in a game aside from his 156-yard outing against Tennessee on Nov. 13, 2016.
Coincidentally, his 12-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Aaron Rodgers also marked the 10th consecutive road game in which Adams has scored.
While a 423-yard day through the air wasn’t enough to lift the Packers past the Lions in a 31-23 loss, Adams’ 88 yards in the second half alone helped jumpstart Green Bay’s offense after a slow start.
“If I’m going to play, I’m going to play at a high level,” Adams said. “I thought that I was able to do it today. We’ve just got to find ways to get it done earlier in the game, then we don’t have to worry about trying to be heroes at the end.”
Adams, who didn’t practice on Wednesday or Thursday, said he was optimistic he’d play but wanted to be smart with Cobb and Allison unlikely to go.
The fifth-year receiver set the tone for the offense early on, lining up both in the slot and on the perimeter. He finished with four of the offense’s 10 longest plays, including a 30-yard reception on third-and-7 in the second quarter.
“The guy is a warrior to come back and try to help his team win,” rookie Marquez Valdes-Scantling said. “It’s magnificent to see a guy like that who’s one of the best in the league to fight through that injury and not having to be able to practice all week and to go out and play like he did, that’s amazing to see.”
The Packers didn’t abort their three-receiver packages despite the absences. Instead, they turned to Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown to complement Adams in the offense.
The two rookie receivers combined for 10 catches for 157 yards, with Valdes-Scantling catching his first NFL touchdown pass from Rodgers on the opening series of the second half. Meanwhile, St. Brown finished the game with a 54-yard catch.
“They stepped up and made plays, especially not having much game action,” Adams said. “That’s big. E.Q. at the end had a big play to get us three more (points). It didn’t end up resulting in a win but that’s good for his confidence. It’s good for him and good for the confidence between him and 12. That’s beautiful. The more reps they get, the more comfortable they’ll be and continue to make plays.”
Afterward, Adams lamented the Packers’ struggles offensively. While Green Bay put up 200 total yards in the first half, it had to settle for field-goal attempts all three times they ventured into scoring territory.
The Packers’ other three possessions all ended in fumbles, momentum the Lions used to negate the three consecutive touchdowns Green Bay’s offense produced to start the second half.
“We’re obviously close. We put up points,” Adams said. “I don’t even know what Aaron threw for today but it’s about scoring and touchdowns. That’s what matters most. We’re obviously right there. It’s about putting it in and not waiting until the last minute.”
The Green Bay Packers traveled to Ford Field to take on the Detroit Lions in a Week 5 NFC North matchup
Whose ball is it anyway: There was some confusion early in the first quarter when officials ruled a Sam Martin punt hit Packers cornerback Kevin King and was recovered by Lions cornerback Jamal Agnew at the Green Bay 1.
Punt returner Tramon Williams said the Packers were initially told by the referee the ball hit Lions safety Miles Killebrew first, but then that wasn’t the decision called on the field.
Since all turnovers are automatically reviewed, the NFL replay booth ruled there wasn’t indisputable evidence to overturn the call and LeGarrette Blount scored on a 1-yard touchdown the following play.
“The referee told us the ball hit Detroit first, but they still gave it to Detroit,” Williams said. “It is what it is. I don’t think that had a factor in the game, but it could have been the reason we got off to a slow start and changed things at that point. But you have to play through those things.”
Twelve too many: The Packers were called for 12 penalties for 112 yards against the Lions, including four personal fouls.
They ranged from a holding call away from the ball on a lengthy Ty Montgomery kickoff return in the first quarter to a taunting penalty after a third-down stop in the third quarter that gave Detroit a fresh set of downs.
A few lapses on special teams and three fumbles also helped contribute to Detroit’s average starting field position being its own 46.
“We take pride in what we do,” linebacker Nick Perry said. “We're going to take a hard look at ourselves and just make sure we stay on top of a lot of those little things like the penalties, mental things that we could have easily avoided.”
Secondary shake-up: The Packers held the Lions to only 170 total passing yards despite finishing the game without King, who left with 9:01 remaining in the fourth quarter due to a lacerated chin.
Already playing without three defensive backs due to injury, Green Bay was forced to finish the game with recently promoted practice-squad cornerback Tony Brown outside opposite of Williams.
“Mentally, as a defense, I think we stuck in there,” Williams said. “I don’t think guys ever got down and thought we were in big, big trouble at that time. But we don’t want to start like that. We have to figure out what it is.”