What We Learned

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2021 NFL season, Week 2: What we learned from Packers' win over Lions on Monday night

Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions came out strong, but Aaron Rodgers found his vintage form for the Green Bay Packers. Led by stellar nights from Rodgers and running back Aaron Jones, the Packers pulled away from the Lions to win Monday at a rainy Lambeau Field.

Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers
2021 · 1-1-0
Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
2021 · 0-2-0


  1. The Packers' offense is not dead! Green Bay rebounded from a putrid three-point showing in Week 1 by matching Detroit touchdown for touchdown in the first half, then absolutely exploded in the second half. Aaron Rodgers stuffed the stat sheet and lit up the scoreboard, completing 22 of 27 passes for 255 yards, four touchdowns and a 145.6 passer rating. Rodgers did it by spreading the ball all over the field, connecting with Davante Adams eight times for 121 yards while targeting seven different pass-catchers. The Rodgers-to-Robert Tonyan connection saw new life, with Rodgers' touchdown strike to Tonyan over the middle putting the Packers ahead for good in the third quarter. Aaron Jones made history, scoring four scrimmage touchdowns for the second time in his career and became the only Packers running back to score three receiving touchdowns and one rushing in franchise history. We know this is what the Packers are capable of doing, and after a stunning lack of output in Week 1, Green Bay fans have to feel relieved to see their Packers return to form on Monday night.
  2. One man's trash just might be another's treasure. Detroit is filled with a group of young and hungry players, with Jared Goff and Jamaal Williams leading the way, and for two quarters it looked as if the Lions might have unearthed a few gems from the scrap heap. Goff turned heads by directing an efficient and effective offense for the first two quarters, reaching halftime with a passing line of 13 of 16 for 137 yards, two touchdowns and a 141.9 passer rating. Detroit converted five of six third-down attempts and gained 197 total yards in the first half. But as the rain started to fall, the wheels fell off, reminding folks of how far the Lions have to go. Williams spoke of meeting his ex-girlfriend (the Packers) in the lead-up to this game, but failed to stunt on her as he'd hoped to do, finishing with 25 rushing yards on seven carries and 12 receiving yards on three catches. The Lions turned the ball over twice in the second half and gained just 147 total yards of offense in the final two quarters, limping to a double-digit loss. Detroit has shown flashes of competitive play; it just needs to sustain it for four quarters. That includes cleaning up the penalties: The Lions have committed 14 (accepted) penalties combined between their first two games.
  3. The cheeseheads are melting -- well, they were for six quarters. Green Bay's defense gave up seven (!) touchdown passes through the first six quarters of the season, instantly drawing heat to new defensive coordinator Joe Barry. Green Bay undoubtedly misses Za'Darius Smith, a pressure-producing machine. The Packers finished with 12 total QB pressures and have just 17 through two weeks, with 13 of those coming Monday night. But the good news came in the second half, when Green Bay adjusted and was able to keep the Lions off the scoreboard, extending their primetime streak over Detroit (see NFL Research note below for more). Moving forward, though, that Packers need to hope their offense can build enough of a lead to force the opponent to become one-dimensional. Otherwise, if they can't generate pressure for a full four quarters, they might again be found chasing after opponents in vain as they were in the first half.
  4. Don't look now, but the Lions might have a promising pass-catcher in Quintez Cephus. The second-year wideout from Wisconsin opened the night's scoring with a five-yard touchdown reception, finished with four catches for 63 yards, and nearly hauled in what would have been the clubhouse leader for catch of the year. The fifth-round pick made a habit of winning jump balls when he was with the Badgers, and on Monday night, he started to figure out how to do so at the NFL level. With a receiving corps that lacks a standout player, Cephus has a chance to become just that. Performances like his in Week 2 -- an outing that was built entirely on first-half production -- will help him get there, especially if he can produce for a full four quarters.
  5. De'Vondre Campbell's now-nomadic career might have found a new home in Green Bay. After recording six tackles in the Packers' Week 1 loss, Campbell made a ton of plays Monday night, finishing with a team-high 13 tackles and an interception that served as the dagger plunged into Detroit's hopes for a comeback. The 28-year-old is the latest mercenary to fill a need for Green Bay at linebacker, and though the Packers still need to figure out how to put together a complete defensive performance as a team, they have to be encouraged by what they got out of the veteran against the Lions.

Next Gen stat of the game: Detroit was content with playing coverage Monday night, blitzing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers just four times all game. Rodgers completed 20-of-24 passes for 246 yards, four touchdowns and a passer rating of 149 when the Lions did not blitz.

NFL Research: Monday night's game was the fifth primetime game in which Aaron Rodgers and the Packers trailed the Detroit Lions at halftime. Rodgers and the Packers again broke the hearts of the Lions, improving to 5-0 against Detroit in primetime games in which the Lions reached the break with a lead.

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