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Week 11 Game Recap: Green Bay Packers 24, Detroit Lions 20
Green Bay Packers
|QB Aaron Rodgers, Pass: 19 - 27 - 236 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0|
Just good enough. That's probably the best way to describe Aaron Rodgers' performance -- just good enough to win. He managed to keep the offense moving, and spread the ball around just enough to get all of his key players involved, but he never broke out that huge play that broke Detroit's back at any point in the game. The TD pass that he had to Finley was as much the design of the play and the mistakes of the Lions as anything. When both linebackers broke to cover James Starks out of the backfield, Finely was all alone in the middle of the field for the easy catch and run. The 40 yard pass to Finley in the 4th quarter was also a catch and run -- where Rodgers hit Finley in the flat and he just ran away from the defense for the big gain. But when the chips were down, on 3rd and 1 with two minutes to go and the Packers needed a TD to pull ahead, Rodgers worked his magic. He threw a perfect rainbow pass to Randall Cobb in the end zone that was almost vertical when it came down. Despite being double-covered, Cobb had an easy catch to tie the game and eventually put the Packers ahead for good. The interception was more of a bad route run by Cobb, where Cobb kept running up the seam and Rodgers expected him to cut over the middle. It was a not a great pass, but the route made it an easy pick. While 68 of Rodgers' 236 yards came in the final three minutes of the game, it was still good enough to give Green Bay the win.
|RB James Starks, Rush: 25 - 74 - 0, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets)|
The Packers seemed determined to have a balanced attack in this game, and James Starks was the guy that they kept handing the ball to. While he never broke a run for more than 11 yards, Starks always seemed to move the pile a bit, and 10 of his 25 carries were for four yards or more. The Packers gave him a lot of different looks, including runs up the gut, pitches to the outside, delays out of the shotgun formation and even off-tackle runs that allowed Starks to bounce to the outside if he saw an opening. Although his longest run came on a delay in the 4th quarter, Starks seemed to wear down as the game wore on. In fact, of the eight carries that he had in the 4th quarter, only one was for more than three yards. Even with the 11 yard run of the day, he finished the 4th with just 16 yards on eight carries. The Packers hope to get Cedric Benson back before the end of the season, but until they do, Starks looks like he's the primary carrier.
|RB John Kuhn, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0|
Kuhn had just one carry in the game, an inside handoff where he was immediately stuffed for a one yard loss to end the third quarter.
|WR Randall Cobb, Rush: 2 - 19 - 0, Rec: 9 - 74 - 1 (12 targets)|
Randall Cobb is Green Bay's equivalent of Minnesota's Percy Harvin. Cobb can do it all. The Packers use him to return punts and kicks. They use him out of the slot, as well as the primary receiver on either side of the field. They even line him up or motion him into the backfield, and hand the ball to him or shovel pass it to him to give him the most opportunity to make a play. It will be interesting to see how he does when Greg Jennings returns. Without a doubt, Cobb's best play of the game came late in the 4th quarter. The Packers were down by six with two minutes to play, driving deep into Detroit territory. Cobb ran a route straight to the end zone and Rodgers through a perfect rainbow pass to him. Despite being double-covered, Cobb made a great catch and the pass was almost vertical when it hit his hands. It tied the game and put the Packers in a position to win with the extra point. Although Cobb was active in the office for the entire game, his biggest plays were in the third and 4th quarter. Aside from the TD catch, Cobb also had a 15 yard run near the end of the third quarter. On the play, Cobb lined up in the backfield and Rodgers tossed it to him on 3rd and 1. Cobb took it off tackle for a huge gain, following his blockers and breaking it for a long run. He also had a 10 yard curl route to open the quarter.
|WR Jordy Nelson, Rec: 3 - 45 - 0 (5 targets)|
Aaron Rodgers' go-to receiver was living up to billing in this game. Nelson's first target was a sideline pass on the opening drive of the game. Nelson was open, but he took his eyes off the ball and it skipped off his chest and he dropped it. Nelson got back on track though at the end of the first quarter on 3rd and 6. Rodgers threw the ball a bit behind him, but Nelson was able to come up with the 15 yard catch and a big first down. On the same drive, on 3rd and 3, Nelson ran a quick curl route, but spun away from the defenders, broke two tackles and sprinted up field for a big 19 yard gain to set up the TD pass to JerMichael Finley. In the 4th, Rodgers hit Nelson on a short curl where he was able to get to the sideline and tiptoe along it for an 11 yard gain. Two plays later, Nelson drew a defensive holding call on an inside-out route, giving the Packers another 1st down. While he finished the game with just 45 yards receiving, Nelson drew a lot of attention from the defense, and Rodgers was able to get other people involved in the offense because of it.
|WR James Jones, Rec: 2 - 33 - 0 (4 targets)|
Jones did not see much action in this game, and Randall Cobb has clearly passed him on the depth chart. Jones' first catch was a short 13 yard curl in the first quarter on 3rd and 17. He was tackled immediately and the Packers were forced to punt. Near the end of the 1st quarter, Rodgers threw Jones a quick pass on a slant, but Jones dropped it, setting up second down. Rodgers didn't look his way again until the end of the third quarter -- where he hit Jones on a crossing route for a nice 20 yard gain. Rodgers targeted Jones in the 4th on a backsholder throw down the sideline, but the defender stepped in and broke it up. It could have been called pass interference, but the referee didn't see it.
|WR Donald Driver, Rec: 1 - 12 - 0 (1 targets)|
Driver was only targeted one time in this game, late in the first quarter. It was on 3rd and 9, and Aaron Rodgers was flushed out of the pocket. He was off balance, and threw an awkward pass over the middle toward Driver. Driver made a great catch, turned and ran 12 yards for the first down.
|TE Jermichael Finley, Rec: 3 - 66 - 1 (3 targets)|
Finley has not had more than two receptions in a game since Week 5 against Indianapolis and hasn't reached the end zone since week 1 against the 49ers. Yet he had a couple big receptions in this game and was a big part of why the Packers were able to pull out a win. Finley's first reception was a big one. Early in the second quarter, Finley ran a short crossing route while James Starks released into the flat on the side of the field where Finley was lined up. The Detroit linebackers both followed Starks and Finley was left alone in the middle of the field. Rodgers checked the ball down to him and he sprinted 20 yards for the easy score. Late in the game on the final drive, Finley came up big on two consecutive plays. The first was a short out route where Finley caught the ball in the flat and sprinted away from the defense for a huge 40 yard gain. On the next play, he ran a short curl to the same side for a gain of six. Two plays later Rodgers dropped a bomb to Randall Cobb in the end zone and the Packers took the lead for good.
|QB Matthew Stafford, Pass: 17 - 39 - 266 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - 12 - 0|
Matthew Stafford didn't have a great game, but his struggles to get anyone else besides Calvin Johnson involved in the offense continued. While Stafford tried to target Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler to mix things up, most of those passes were for short gains or were completely off target in the case of Scheffler. Of Stafford's first seven passes, two were caught for just one yard. When you start out like that, it's hard to get a rhythm going. But Stafford kept plugging away, and on his next pass, he rolled out to his right and found Calvin Johnson deep down the right side of the field for a huge 53 yard gain. It was the longest pass of the day for either team. But Stafford would complete three more passes to Johnson for more than 20 yards, including the 25 yard TD pass that was nearly intercepted. Stafford also had passes of 27 and 24 yards to Broyles and Titus Young late in the game that set up the field goal to put the Lions up by six. Unfortunately it would not be enough, and seven of Stafford's last eight passes were incomplete (the final one being the 30 yard completion to Calvin Johnson when the Packers were in prevent defense, just trying to keep the Lions from scoring). Five sacks didn't help his cause, although in two cases, Stafford just couldn't find an open receiver and basically ate the ball rather than throw it away. He also had two plays where he just tucked the ball and ran. Both were for six yards and both were for first downs. His first interception was a telegraphed side-arm pass and the second one was a pass that Tony Scheffler should have caught but he tipped it right to the defender who returned it for a pick-six.
|RB Mikel Leshoure, Rush: 19 - 84 - 1, Rec: 1 - -2 - 0 (1 targets)|
The Lions came into the game as a team that throws the ball more than any other team in the league. Yet it was a consistent commitment to the running game that nearly won them the game. Although the frequently lined up in the shotgun formation, Leshoure was still able to get 20 touches for the game. As mentioned with Joique Bell, the Lions talked about why the limit Leshoure to just 20-22 touches a game -- because they feel like if he has more than that, he's too hurt for the following week and is less effective. This is good to know from a fantasy prospective, especially if you see Leshoure turn in a 25 or 30 touch performance one week. As for this game, it was solid running all around. Eight of LeShoure's 19 carries went for five yards or more, and he had three runs of 10 or more yards. The TD run was just a straight plow up the gut where LeShoure lowered his head to get into the end zone. His longest run was a 15 yard sprint in the second quarter, where he took the inside handoff, broke to the outside and got to the sideline running hard and plowing ahead. His only reception was a short screen in the first quarter -- but the defense saw it and he was tackled immediately. One final thing to note is about the formations: Stafford frequently lined up in a shotgun or 'pistol' formation, where he was back from under the center. Yet that didn't' stop the runs to Leshoure, and in some cases, he was still lined up as a single back behind Stafford when he was in the Pistol formation. The used this to give him the ball with time to adjust, and it worked well for many times during the game. While LeShoure never broke off a big run to the house, he kept grinding away and kept the Packers from stacking the box to avoid the pass.
|RB Joique Bell, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets)|
Bell was used very sparingly in this game, as Mikel Leshoure was effective running out of the shotgun. However, the Lions revealed that they want to keep Leshoure at 20 or so touches a game, no more than 25 because otherwise he is too sore the following week to be effective. Bell's only run was out of a 'pistol' formation -- where Matthew Stafford was in a short shotgun formation and Bell was lined up as a single back about 3 yards behind him. The carry was straight up the gut for four yards. Bell also had a short check-down pass on a crossing route, good for five yards.
|RB Kevin Smith, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0|
The Lions are bringing in Kevin Smith on 3rd and long to help provide extra protection against a potential blitz. He did have one carry in the 1st quarter though -- a short four yard run off tackle that was called back because of an Illegal hands to the face by Green Bay.
|WR Calvin Johnson, Rec: 5 - 143 - 1 (11 targets)|
If you just looked at Calvin Johnson's stats from this game, you'd think that he had a great day both from an NFL prospective and a fantasy prospective. What is missing though is the day that might have been. For starters, his TD reception looked like it should have been intercepted. Morgan Burnett was in perfect position, his timing was right and he had perfect position to intercept the pass. Yet somehow he missed it completely and Johnson made the grab for the touchdown. On the final play of the game for Detroit, Matthew Stafford hit Johnson on an underneath route as the defense was backed off 40 yards to prevent the big play. Megatron had a 30 yard catch and run, then tried to pitch it to Brandon Pettigrew but the pitch (fumble) was intercepted (recovered) by Green Bay. Johnson's first two targets hit him in the hands, but the first one was broken up and the second one he just dropped. In the second quarter, Johnson took off from the slot, then cut to the outside on 3rd and nine. Stafford hit him with a nice pass and he turned it into a 21 yard gain before being knocked out of bounds. The replay showed that he did not have full control of the ball though, and by the time he finally secured it, his second foot was out of bounds. However, Green Bay didn't challenge it and the play stood. Or the play in the second quarter where Johnson got behind the defense and Stafford overthrew him by just a few yards. If Johnson would have been able to catch it, it would have been an easy TD. Overall a typical stat game for Johnson but inches away from being significantly better or significantly worse....
|WR Ryan Broyles, Rec: 2 - 35 - 0 (2 targets)|
Broyles didn't get involved on offense until the second half of the game. On the drive after Matthew Stafford threw the pick-six, Broyles had a nice inside-out route where Stafford hit him for an eight yard gain. In the 4th quarter, on 3rd and 1, Broyles ran a short curl route and Stafford side-armed him the ball. Broyles spun away from the defender, broke two tackles and sprinted up the sideline for a big 27 yard gain. It was his longest play of the game.
|WR Mike Thomas, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0|
Mike Thomas was signed after the season ending injury to Nate Burleson. However, he's only used on five wide sets and on special teams. His only offensive touch in this game was just before half time, when the Lions brought him in motion, then handed him the ball after the snap and he ran around the other end. He was tackled after a short six yard gain.
|WR Titus Young, Rec: 1 - 24 - 0 (6 targets)|
Young's first target on the second drive of the game was a quick slant that he got his hands around, but the defender was there and broke up the play. Stafford looked to get Young the ball later in the quarter, but he was covered, and Stafford pulled the ball down and was sacked. Near the end of the first half, Stafford tried to side-arm a play action pass into Young but it was a bad throw and the Packers picked it off. It was Stafford's first pick of the day. In the third quarter, Young was flagged for a false start on 3rd and 5, and on the next play the Packers jumped offside. Stafford lofted the ball to Young, but he was flagged for pass interference and the penalties offset. Stafford threw his second interception on the next play and it was returned for a TD. Young's only catch came late in the 4th quarter -- a nice 24 yard strike down the left sideline when the Lions were looking to add to their three point lead. It gave the Lions 1st and goal and looked like it would put the game away. On 3rd and goal, Stafford tried to hit Young over the middle, but the defender pushed Young down and wasn't called for the pass interference. Young was targeted twice more in the quarter but the first pass was underthrown and the second one was broken up.
|TE Brandon Pettigrew, Rec: 4 - 22 - 0 (7 targets)|
The Lions opened the game with two short passes to Pettigrew. He caught one for three yards on a designed roll out and dropped the short curl. In general, Pettigrew was used more in this game in the short passing routes across the middle and out into the flat. In the second, he again caught a short crossing route for just three yards, and had another short four yard check down near the end of the 1st half. His only catch of the second half came early in the third quarter --a short dump on 3rd and 2 where Pettigrew was able to break up field for a nice 12 yard catch and run.
|TE Tony Scheffler, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (10 targets)|
Matthew Stafford tried to get the ball into Scheffler multiple times in this game, but it was clear that they were not on the same page, or their timing was off. The announcers even joked that maybe Scheffler had 'gotten faster' in the middle of the week because Stafford's passes were always off target when they came Scheffler's way. Scheffler's first official catch was just a short crossing route for six yards near the end of the first quarter on second and goal. It brought Detroit closer to the end zone but they had to settle for a field goal. Scheffler was targeted two more times in the second quarter, but their timing was off and Scheffler had not chance to make a play. Early in the third, Stafford connected with Scheffler on 3rd and 3 when he was under pressure, and Scheffler had a nice catch and run for 16 yards. However, three plays later, Stafford hit Scheffler on a deep crossing route and the ball went right through his hands, into a defender's and the Packers returned it for a TD. Scheffler was targeted a few more times, but the passes were off target or well-defended and Scheffler finished the day with just two catches for 22 yards.
|TE Will Heller, Rec: 1 - 17 - 0 (1 targets)|
Heller is primarily a blocking tight end, but he did have one nice catch and run in this game. In the second quarter, Matthew Stafford was under pressure from a corner blitz, and he scrambled to avoid the sack. Heller blocked, then released into the flat and Stafford dumped it to him for a bit 17 yard catch and run.