GREEN BAY – The Packers got back on track with a 35-17 victory over the Lions on Monday night at Lambeau Field.
Here are five takeaways from the Week 2 win:
1. It was clear who was getting the ball on offense.
A week after touching the ball just seven times, running back Aaron Jones got it 23 times (17 rushes, six receptions), piled up 115 yards from scrimmage and scored four touchdowns.
"He's so dynamic," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "He opens up so much for us."
Three of Jones' four TDs came on pass receptions, making him the first Packers running back in 79 years with three touchdown catches in a game.
The other go-to weapon, of course, was receiver Davante Adams, with eight catches for 121 yards, so the two offensive stars accounted for 236 of Green Bay's 323 yards.
"It starts with getting the ball to our playmakers, which are '33' and '17,' said quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who posted a 145.6 passer rating (22-of-27, 255 yards, four TDs). "That's where it all starts, then finding ways to let our great role players make plays."
2. One key play on each side of the ball altered the course of the game.
After the teams traded two touchdowns apiece, the Lions ended the first half with a field goal for a 17-14 lead.
As the second half got underway, Rodgers was sacked on the fourth snap, setting up third-and-12, and he calmly connected with Adams deep down the sideline for a 50-yard gain.
"It was the first drive of the second half and you're in third-and-forever and not a very comfortable situation for the offense," LaFleur said. "Yeah, that definitely was a game-changing play."
Three plays later, Rodgers threaded the needle to tight end Robert Tonyan for a 22-yard touchdown, and the Packers had a lead they'd never give up.
"I think we got into a flow in the second half," Rodgers said. "Sometimes it just takes one play. I think the throw over the top to Davante kind of got us going. The throw to Bobby was a timely one as well."
The biggest play defensively came on the next series, as Detroit went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Green Bay 25. QB Jared Goff's pass for receiver Quintez Cephus, tightly covered by rookie cornerback Eric Stokes, was incomplete.
3. From there, the Packers controlled the contest.
Tonyan's score was the first of three consecutive possessions in the second half producing touchdowns (and four straight overall going back to the second quarter).
Detroit's next three drives ended with a fumbled snap by Goff (recovered by linebacker Krys Barnes), another fumble in the pocket under heavy pressure from linebacker Rashan Gary, and an interception by linebacker De'Vondre Campbell, again with Goff facing pressure.
The defensive turnaround and second-half shutout was in part due to a halftime conversation between LaFleur and defensive coordinator Joe Barry. The head coach suggested the defense either needed to bring extra pressure or sit back in zone coverage, because the four-man rushes with man coverage behind weren't getting the job done in the first half, when the Lions racked up 197 yards and scored 17 points.
"We needed to affect the quarterback much more," LaFleur said, which the Packers did even though they technically recorded only one sack.
Regarding the defensive progress, LaFleur added: "Hopefully it's an upward trajectory."
4. The sights and sounds of a full Lambeau were welcomed.
With an official attendance of 77,240, Lambeau Field was full for the first time since January of 2020, and football finally felt more normal again.
"Definitely felt the fans' presence," LaFleur said. "It was long overdue."
Added Rodgers: "It's special. It's what you miss. With the crowd, it's way different."
The home atmosphere helped the Packers once again avoid back-to-back losses during LaFleur's tenure, and the third-year head coach improved to 12-1 in NFC North games.
View some of the best photos from the Monday Night Football matchup between the Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on Sept. 20, 2021.