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Packers 'turned the tide' before and after halftime to run away from Lions

Ground game churns out 259 rushing yards as Green Bay improves to 2-0

TE Robert Tonyan and G Lucas Patrick
TE Robert Tonyan and G Lucas Patrick

GREEN BAY – This game changed in a hurry.

The Packers scored a touchdown 14 seconds before halftime and then another just 12 seconds into the third quarter, taking control of what became a 42-21 victory over the Lions on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

"That totally turned the tide," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said of the TDs sandwiching intermission.

The runaway victory appeared like anything but at the start, and it gave the Packers a 2-0 record with two division wins to start the season for the second straight year.

Trailing 14-3 in the earlygoing, the Packers cut it to 14-10 but looked like they'd have to settle for a small halftime deficit. Then a Za'Darius Smith sack and a Lions penalty while backed up gave Green Bay one more shot to score with a minute left before the break.

Two costly Detroit personal fouls preceded a laser of an 11-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Robert Tonyan for a 17-14 lead. The Packers then took the second half kickoff and scored on their first play – a 75-yard touchdown run by Aaron Jones that highlighted his monster day – and the Lions never recovered.

"I've talked about it over the years, how monumental those opportunities to double up can be, to go from a down four to up 10 in not much time," Rodgers said. "We scored in 45 seconds, 50 seconds and we scored on one play. Next thing you know we're up by 10 points. That was important."

Indeed it was, and when nickel cornerback Chandon Sullivan added a 7-yard pick-six midway through the third quarter on another huge Lions blunder near their own goal line, it was 31-14 and the rout was on.

Detroit's opening two touchdown drives that covered 150 yards in 21 plays and consumed more than 10 minutes of the first-quarter clock felt like ancient history.

"It didn't start the way we wanted but certainly they answered the bell," LaFleur said of his defense, which allowed just 172 yards and seven points after those first two drives.

"The guys didn't blink. They didn't flinch. They just stuck together and were able to rally and get it together."

It was a resilient trait the Packers showed often last year when LaFleur first took over, and it started with the offense putting together a 75-yard TD drive early in the second quarter that Rodgers called the most important of the game.

Jones was responsible for 45 of the yards on that march and it set the stage for a career-best day. He finished with 236 yards from scrimmage (career-high 168 rushing on 18 carries, 68 receiving on four catches) – 10 more total yards than he had at Kansas City last season – and three touchdowns.

In addition to his 75-yard scoring scamper, Jones made a spectacular leaping catch for a 30-yard gain in the third quarter, putting his all-around game on display.

"We have some playmakers on this team, and '33' is a special player," Rodgers said.

Lambeau Field hosted a Week 2 game between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020.

With the Lions shading coverage to star receiver Davante Adams from the get-go, holding Adams to just three catches for 36 yards before he exited with a hamstring injury, the Packers' offense didn't suffer.

Jamaal Williams added 63 yards on the ground on just eight carries (7.9 avg.) as the Packers piled up 259 rushing yards, their first time over 200 since 2016 and most in a game since 2003. Marquez Valdes-Scantling came back from a couple of big hits to chip in three receptions for 64 yards, including a big 41-yarder down the sideline on third down early in the fourth quarter that ended any hopes of a Detroit comeback.

Rodgers finished with a triple-digit passer rating (107.6, on 18-of-30 for 240 yards and two TDs) and behind a barrage of late pressure the defense ended up sacking Lions QB Matthew Stafford four times.

Adrian Peterson broke off a 25-yard run but otherwise was a non-factor (seven carries, 41 yards) as Detroit shifted into catch-up mode most of the second half.

Injuries are the biggest concern for the Packers as they look ahead to a big Sunday night matchup at New Orleans next week, with center Corey Linsley (hand) and return man and running back Tyler Ervin (concussion evaluation) also leaving the game in addition to Adams.

"We're going to have our hands full," LaFleur said. "We're going to have to hit the reset button and get back to work."