GREEN BAY – The Packers were dominated in the first half, falling behind by 24 points, before ultimately falling to the Lions, 34-20, Thursday night at Lambeau Field.
Here are five takeaways from the defeat:
1. Matt LaFleur did not mince words about the first-half performance.
"They whooped us pretty good."
"They manhandled us, really in every phase."
"We got our (butt) kicked."
"It was very humbling."
Those were just a few of the head coach's postgame comments regarding the 27-3 deficit the Packers put themselves in with an abysmal first half.
A Rudy Ford interception and subsequent field goal to start the game was the only positive occurrence, as the Lions countered with 27 straight points. The Packers didn't get a first down on any of their first five possessions while the Lions dominated both lines of scrimmage.
By the end of the first quarter, Detroit had a 194-1 advantage in total yards that stretched to 284-21 by halftime.
2. The stats show the difference was in the trenches.
The Lions outrushed the Packers 211-27 on the night, while QB Jordan Love was sacked five times and harassed on many of his 36 pass attempts.
"It's hard to throw on your back," LaFleur said. "We've got to protect him better."
Up front, the Packers were playing once again with Rasheed Walker at left tackle in place of David Bakhtiari, who went on injured reserve earlier in the day, and with Royce Newman at left guard for the injured Elgton Jenkins. Right tackle Zach Tom also played with a questionable knee.
Star pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson had 1½ of Detroit's five sacks, and a Lions defense that posted just one sack through two games now has 12 over its last two contests.
"They've got a good D-line and we didn't do good enough," Love said. "I think it takes all 11. It's not just the O-line. It's me not getting the ball out quick enough on some plays. Reads were open. It goes back to just not executing. It's all offensively as a whole."
While Detroit was consistently staying in favorable positions with a strong ground game, the Packers were struggling to find anything resembling a rhythm. Love also was intercepted on a pass deep in Green Bay territory, setting up an easy Lions TD, during the onslaught.
"It wasn't good enough," LaFleur said. "They whipped us. They manhandled us. Again, if I knew the answer to that it wouldn't have happened.
"Everything wasn't good enough, so, the plan wasn't good enough and that was humiliating being down 27-3 or whatever it was at half."
3. The Packers finally responded, but the Lions had an answer of their own.
LaFleur challenged his team to compete in the second half, and it did that, as the offense finally got moving. The Packers scored twice on Love's short TD pass to WR Christian Watson , making his 2023 debut, and a QB draw by Love himself. The first two-point try was successful, but the second wasn't, and the score stood 27-17 early in the fourth quarter.
But the Lions are a better team than last week's opponent, the Saints, and unlike in the rally against New Orleans, Detroit didn't lose its starting quarterback. The Lions put together a 14-play, 75-yard TD drive that consumed nine minutes on the clock and put the game away.
"Obviously it was way too little, too late," LaFleur said.
The Packers had one chance to keep it a two-score game, with Detroit trying a 30-yard field goal with just over eight minutes left. But second-year linebacker Quay Walker was flagged for taking a running start and jumping over the line on the field goal, giving the Lions a free first down. They took another two-plus minutes off the clock and made it a three-score game again.
"It was a bad deal," LaFleur said of the costly penalty. "I'm not going to sit here and blame Quay. Obviously we've got to do a better job of educating our players about what the rules are."
Check out photos from the Week 4 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023.
4. The biggest concern defensively remains an inability to stop the run.
The Lions became the second team in the last three weeks to top 200 rushing yards against the Packers, joining the Falcons, who rushed for an identical 211. Detroit held that same Atlanta rushing attack to 44 yards on 20 attempts last week
Meanwhile Green Bay only attempted 11 runs and gained 34 against the Lions, not counting a backwards pass that went out of bounds for a loss of 7.
"Any time you go out there and you can't effectively run the football and conversely can't stop the run, that's a recipe for losing football," LaFleur said.
A 40-yard reverse by receiver Khalif Raymond was the biggest rushing highlight for the Lions, but it was mostly the David Montgomery show as he pounded away 32 times for 121 yards and three rushing scores.
"We're going to have to do something different, because it's insane to do the same things over and over again and expect a different result," LaFleur said. "That's one of the best offensive lines in ball. But it's still inexcusable. You should be able to take one phase away."
5. The Packers know they can't live in comeback mode.
The Lions grabbed sole possession of first place in the NFC North at 3-1, while the Packers dropped into second at 2-2.
The game showed Green Bay has a huge gap to make up, though, to contend with a Detroit team that is clearly the one to beat in the division now.
Falling behind by three scores for the second time in five days felt all too familiar, and progress from here starts with not losing command of games out of the gate.
"Obviously we were in such a hole, and that's two weeks in a row we put ourselves in a bad situation," LaFleur said. "We were very fortunate four days ago or whatever to come out of it, and tonight against a really good team, it was an impossible hole to overcome."