DETROIT—The Packers left Ford Field on Sunday with more than a 19-7 loss. They left with an empty feeling about their failure to run the football.
Detroit challenged the Packers to run the ball and, on just the Packers' second play of the game, the Lions returned an Eddie Lacy fumble 40 yards for a touchdown. It was a play that would be symbolic of what would happen for the next 57 minutes: The Packers would try to run the ball, and the Lions would stop it.
"We didn't establish the run game. We put a lot on Aaron in the second half," Coach Mike McCarthy said following the loss.
Through most of McCarthy's postgame press conference, he hinted at the Packers' particular problem in this Week 3 game.
"You do what your strengths are. This game was more about what their defensive formation gave us," McCarthy said.
Should the Packers have been able to run the ball better against the Lions' defensive formation?
"Absolutely," McCarthy said.
Would he have called the same play that resulted in Lacy being tackled for a safety?
"Absolutely," he added.
Against a Lions defense that was inviting the run, the Packers rushed for 76 yards. The fumble not only set the tone for the day, it validated the Lions' defensive game plan.
"There's no excuse for that. That's two weeks in a row," McCarthy said.
Loaded up against the pass, the Lions held Rodgers to 16 of 27 for 162 yards and one touchdown. It was one of his least productive days as the Packers' starting quarterback. It ended with him throwing incomplete for Jordy Nelson at the goal line on fourth-and-5 and the Packers trying to claw their way back into the game.
"Our system is built around making the quarterback successful," McCarthy said.
Rodgers' echoed many of McCarthy's sentiments.
"They played 'Cover Two' or some variation of it. We had a lot of looks to run the ball and didn't run it very well," Rodgers said.
At 2-1, the Lions are in the NFC North lead. The Bears can tie for the lead with a win over the Jets on Monday night. The Packers and Vikings are 1-2.
"The type of training camp we had … it was about as high as it's ever been. We have no excuses, starting with me. This is not a good day for us," McCarthy said.
Ironically, a team built around the quarterback is now playing its best football on defense. The Packers intercepted Matt Stafford twice and held Calvin Johnson to 82 yards receiving.
"Our defense played well. Time of possession got out of balance (38:13 to 21:47) and I felt we wore down," McCarthy said.
"Week 3, we're 1-2. We'll grow from this and get ready for Chicago." ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - SEPT. 21