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Week 2 Game Recap: Green Bay Packers 48, Detroit Lions 25
What you need to know
|Green Bay Packers|
QB Aaron Rodgers was excellent as he regularly slipped away from the Detroit pass rush and hit receiver after receiver downfield, including 60 and 62 yard completions to WR Greg Jennings. While his day was not wholly without adversity, Rodgers never appeared indecisive and was clearly the best QB on the field.
RB Ryan Grant struggled to stay on the field for extended stretches and faded as the game progressed, turning over more and more of the running duties to RB Brandon Jackson. Jackson made the most of his opportunities averaging 8.7 yards on seven carries including a late 19 yard touchdown run.
WR Greg Jennings continued his emergence as a bona fide #1 WR as he not only received the most targets, but was also given plenty of deep-ball opportunities -- two of which he hauled in for a combined 122 yards.
QB Jon Kitna was under siege all day, and while he managed to post decent yardage and a pair of touchdowns, his three interceptions late in the game ensured that Detroit would go to 0-2 and that his fantasy impact would be minimized.
Due to his team falling behind quickly, RB Kevin Smith was given very few opportunities to shine in the Detroit running attack. The good news for Smith owners was that fellow RB Rudi Johnson did not take any significant playing time away from him.
While WR Roy Williams had a disappointing day due to an early case of the drops, fellow WR Calvin Johnson once again made his case for being considered a top WR option as he burned the Packers defense for two touchdowns and well over 100 yards and emerged as Jon Kitna's favorite target late in the game.
What you ought to know
|QB Aaron Rodgers, Pass: 24 - 38 - 328 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 25 - 0|
In the first road start of his career, Rodgers displayed just the skills that made the Packers comfortable with letting Brett Favre go. Despite the fact that the Detroit pass rush was able to get pressure on him all day long, Rodgers displayed an impressive ability to escape the rush, buy time, and connect with his receivers downfield. By the end of the first half he had spread the ball to seven different receivers, gone 16 for 20, amassed three touchdowns, over 200 yards, and earned a near perfect QB rating of 150.0. While his second half was not nearly as impressive as his first, Rodgers was still able to recover from two third quarter fumbles (one on a bad snap), regain his composure and capably manage the offense as it was forced to make up for early fourth quarter Packer defensive lapses that allowed Detroit back into the game. Only two of Rodgers' 38 pass attempts appeared in any danger of being intercepted, and while he connected on two 60+ yard passes to WR Greg Jennings, he could have had perhaps two more had he displayed just a little more accuracy.
|RB Ryan Grant, Rush: 15 - 20 - 0|
Still nursing a tender hamstring, it was not until game-time that it was decided Grant would play. While he was given a healthy dose of carries early (half of his game total came in the first twenty minutes), and he showed some of the same punch that he displayed last year, Grant seemed to wear down as the game progressed. Whether because of his injury or lack of conditioning, Grant was rarely on the field for more than two or three plays in a row, and when the Packers needed tough yards (including on the goal-line) it was fellow RB Brandon Jackson who got the call. Grant's day ended with a whimper as he only carried once in the fourth quarter, and his final two carries went for a total of -5 yards. Grant was not involved in the Packer passing game.
|RB Brandon Jackson, Rush: 7 - 61 - 1, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (3 targets)|
It was clear early on that the plan was to only have Jackson periodically spell fellow RB Ryan Grant. As the game progressed, however, Grant seemed to tire and lose effectiveness, paving the way for Jackson to get 50% of the second half carries, including four of the five fourth quarter carries when the outcome of the contest was still in doubt. Jackson's play of the day came late in that fourth quarter when he broke free for a 19 yard touchdown scamper that began the Packers onslaught at the end of the game. In the passing game, Jackson did receive some attention, but dropped an easy pass in the fourth quarter that would have given the Packers a first down inside the Lions' ten yard line as they were fighting to regain the lead.
|WR Donald Driver, Rec: 7 - 52 - 1 (8 targets)|
Despite only being targeted twice in the first half, Driver managed to convert one of those passes into a short TD and ensure a reasonably productive fantasy day. In the second half, it was clear that Driver was being used in more of a possession receiver role, giving up the long routes to fellow wide-outs James Jones and Greg Jennings. Even so, Driver remained a popular target of Packer QB Aaron Rodgers and he almost corralled a second short TD late in the third quarter but could not hold on as he was sandwiched between two Lions defenders.
|WR Greg Jennings, Rec: 6 - 167 - 0 (10 targets)|
Jennings was clearly QB Aaron Rodgers' favored target in this game as the strong armed QB repeatedly sought him out on long passes downfield. Jennings seemed to have little difficulty getting open against the Lions DBs and hauled in two separate passes for 60+ yards. On the first of these he found a hole downfield and then danced in circles to avoid Lion DB after Lion DB, even if, ultimately, he ended up not adding many yards after the catch. On the second of his long receptions, Jennings took a mid-range pass and raced down the right sideline, outrunning all but one defender.
|WR James Jones, Rec: 4 - 29 - 1 (8 targets)|
Being the third option in the passing game isn't such a bad thing when you have a strong-armed QB and a coaching staff that is willing to let him try to pick apart a defense. Jones ended the day tied with fellow WR Donald Driver for second in targets with eight, and while he wasn't able to take advantage of the speed downfield that he's capable of, Jones was able to make the most of not having to face the Lions' top DBs to haul in some short to intermediate passes and register Green Bay's first touchdown on the day.
|TE Donald Lee, Rec: 2 - 27 - 0 (3 targets)|
While Lee only saw three targets on the day, and all of them came in the first half, he was regularly sent on deep routes that sought to take advantage of his size and speed against undersized defenders. Two of his targets were on just these deep routes, and he managed to haul in one of them for 26 of his receiving yards.
|PK Mason Crosby 2 - 2 FG, 6 - 6 XP, 12 points|
Crosby faced no particularly challenging kicks in this game, and made all of the ones he was asked to make.
|GB Rush Defense|
Thanks to the early lead that the Packers offense amassed, the Lions were forced away from the running game very early on. As such, the Packers run defense was not asked to do much and managed to hold Lions rookie RB Kevin Smith to only one significant run.
|GB Pass Defense|
From the starting gun, the Packers pass rush was after Detroit QB Jon Kitna and having success. Rarely was Kitna allowed the time to set up and wait for his speedy WRs to get down the field. More often than not he was vacating the pocket and simply attempting to keep the play alive until a receiver came open. Early on this paid off in sacks (Green Bay finished with five on the day) but later in the game, as Kitna sought to avoid those sacks and keep his team in the game, the pressure resulted in three fourth quarter interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
|QB Jon Kitna, Pass: 21 - 41 - 276 - 2 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0|
Jon Kitna's day was a roller coaster of ups and downs. He was largely ineffective in the first half as he was regularly subjected to a relentless Packer pass rush that his offensive line seemed unable to control. When he was able to get the ball downfield, his normally sure-handed WRs (chiefly Roy Williams) seemed to drop just as many balls as they caught. In the second half, Kitna's day seemed to turn around as he fired more balls towards WR Calvin Johnson, connecting on two fourth quarter touchdowns (both of which were the result of spectacular plays by Johnson) Kitna's continued attempts to make something happen as the clock wound down ended up fatal to the Lions' chances, however, as he delivered three passes into Packers' hands, two of which were returned for back-breaking touchdowns.
|RB Kevin Smith, Rush: 10 - 40 - 0, Rec: 4 - 21 - 0 (5 targets)|
While Smith was clearly the go to back in the Lions' rushing attack, Detroit was forced to play catch up for almost the entire game. As a result Smith only saw ten rushing opportunities, and failed to impress on all but one. This sole exception was a nice run that appeared designed to go outside, but that Smith altered when presented with an unexpected hole in the line. One cut later and Smith was 14 yards down the field. In the passing game, Smith managed to haul in four of his five targets, but in each case it was a short check down for QB Jon Kitna.
|RB Rudi Johnson, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0|
Due to the Lions falling behind early in the game, their running game quickly became a forgotten facet of the offense. As a result Johnson barely saw the field and finished with only a single rush for two yards.
|WR Calvin Johnson, Rec: 6 - 129 - 2 (11 targets)|
It was a tale of two halves for Johnson who was targeted only three times in the first two quarters, one of which was an uncharacteristic drop on third and ten. In the second half, however, it was Johnson who almost single handedly brought his team back to take a brief fourth quarter lead. In the final thirty minutes Johnson converted his eight targets into almost 100 yards and a pair of impressive touchdowns. On the first, Johnson was able to reach back and make a juggling grab on a pass from QB Jon Kitna that was slightly underthrown. On the second, Johnson took a five yard pass, evaded three defenders, and turned it into a 47 yard score.
|WR Shaun McDonald, Rec: 4 - 27 - 0 (10 targets)|
Seemingly the forgotten man in the Detroit passing attack, it is clear that McDonald has a role to play, particularly when his team is down three touchdowns in the early going. With fellow WRs Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams stretching the field and getting most of the attention from the Green Bay DBs, McDonald was targeted regularly underneath, including eight times in the second half. Unfortunately, McDonald was unable to reward QB Jon Kitna's decision to pay so much attention to him, and was rarely willing or able to gain any significant separation from defenders.
|WR Roy Williams, Rec: 3 - 48 - 0 (9 targets)|
Early in the game, Williams was QB Jon Kitna's favored target, but he was unable to turn that into statistical success. Williams only managed to pull in one of his first five targets, dropping two of the others and coming up just short on a long toss down the left side-line that he might have been able to take all the way had he been hit in stride. Williams' second half was only marginally better, with his one big gain coming on a quick pass in the flat that Williams turned into a 23 yard dash along the sideline. By the fourth quarter, almost all of Kitna's looks were to fellow WR Calvin Johnson on the opposite side of the field, making it difficult for Williams to have anything but a mediocre day.
|TE Casey Fitzsimmons, Rec: 3 - 32 - 0 (3 targets)|
Fitzsimmons saw one target in each quarter except the third. It would be a mistake, however, to think he was heavily involved in the offense or a regular receiving option. He was primarily used to assist in blocking the relentless Packer pass rush, and when he did release downfield it was on relatively short patterns.
|PK Jason Hanson 3 - 3 FG, 2 - 2 XP, 11 points|
The seemingly ageless Jason Hanson demonstrated that he still has plenty of leg when in the climate and wind controlled confines of a domed stadium. He easily cleared the crossbar on 49 and 53 yard third quarter field goals and tacked on a 38 yarder for good measure.
|DET Rush Defense|
While the Lions' rush defense appeared to show up early, no doubt upset over what had happened in week one vs. Atlanta, their initial stiffness would not last. To the extent that Packers starting RB Ryan Grant was held in check, it appeared to be more a result of Grant's sore hamstring than anything the Lions did. Detroit's defensive front was repeatedly manhandled by the Packers offensive line, and while they rarely gave up runs over ten yards, the Lions also rarely got the kind of stop for no gain or negative yards that might have forced Packers QB Aaron Rodgers into less favorable passing situations.
|DET Pass Defense|
While the final stat sheet will not reflect it, the Detroit defensive line was actually able to apply regular pressure on Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. Despite the fact that they were only able to record one sack, the line did force a Rodgers fumble and regularly flushed Rodgers from the pocket, forcing him to throw on the run. Unfortunately for the Lions, their defensive secondary was not nearly as impressive. Detroit's defensive backs were unable to maintain coverage for much longer than a few seconds and regularly gave up medium and long passes on both sides of the field. An example of the Lions' problems was Packers WR Greg Jennings' 62 yard reception early in the second quarter. While allowing the reception in the first place was, of course, a problem, the fact that Jennings was then able to spin his way out of no less than four tackles only compounded it.