FOUR DOWNS: Receiving help, oline woes, big plays and third-down defense

Posted Oct 6, 2013

Tim Twentyman takes a look at four key pieces that played a part in the Lions' 22-9 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field

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The Detroit Lions offense didn’t only miss receiver Calvin Johnson in Sunday’s, 22-9, loss in Green Bay.

While Johnson was was certainly the biggest piece of the puzzle missing in the passing game, realistically, quarterback Matthew Stafford didn’t have any of his top four receiving threats at 100 percent.

Johnson and receiver Nate Burleson, the team’s top two receivers, were inactive.

Patrick Edwards is only two weeks removed from a high ankle sprain and was playing in his first game in two weeks. It’s hard to think he was playing at 100 percent.

Ryan Broyles is still working his way back from a second ACL tear in as many years. He’s close, but it doesn’t seem like he’s quite there yet, either.

Consider this, Kevin Ogletree has been a Detroit Lions for less than a week and he fit right in with two catches and 20 yards. That was one less catch than Kris Durham, who led all wide receivers with three catches for 30 yards and a touchdown.

Brandon PettigrewTE Brandon Pettigrew (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

Tight ends Brandon Pettigrew (4 catches, 59 yards) and Tony Scheffler (4 catches, 55 yards) were the two leading receivers in the game for the Lions.

While Johnson’s absence was certainly the biggest factor in the offense's inability to score, the Lions issues at the position run deeper.

Johnson is so good, that when he’s on the field, he’s masked some of the problems at the position. The early performance of Reggie Bush has, too.

But without Johnson, and with Bush bottled up for the most part, the Lions didn’t get the production they needed from the wide receiver position.

“Every player has a spot on the team,” head coach Jim Schwartz said. “Everybody has a job to do. We’re not going to have them all for every game. We’re not going to make any excuses for who plays and who doesn’t.

"When we get out there, we have to get the job done. We didn’t get it done well enough today. Offense, defense, or special teams. With or without Calvin, that was the story of the game.”

The hard part for the Lions Sunday was that the Packers' secondary didn’t double cover a single receiver.

“You got to get open,” Schwartz said. “I don’t know what else to tell you. We’ll be fine. We’ll bounce back.”


Center Dominic Raiola, like only Raiola can, properly summed up the play of his offensive line group

“We didn’t fight for our ground,” he said. “I think we took one on the chin.”

They never got up, either.

The unit came into the game allowing just three sacks in four games. The Packers had five sacks on Sunday and hit Stafford five additional times.

“We need to go back to work and see what happened and fix it,” Raiola said.

The Packers’ front seven was on the assault all game with out Johnson in the lineup and the Lions' offensive line seemed like they were on their heels for most of the game.

In particular were tackles Riley Reiff and Jason Fox. Bull rushes or speed rushes, both players had their hands full vs. the Packers.

“They have a good defensive front,” Stafford said. “They have drafted a lot of first round guys and a lot of second round guys up there to rush the passer, that’s their job.”

Not only were the five sacks disappointing, but so too was the inability to get anything going on the ground.

The Lions had just 64 rushing yards and none of that can be attributed to the Packers loading the box with Johnson out, according to Bush.

“They didn’t really stack the box today,” he said. “We saw some six-man boxes and we should have taken advantage of that. We had the chance and we didn’t. I have to do a better job of running the ball. I've got to be better.”

So does the offensive line moving forward.


Tell any Detroit Lions player or coach before the game that quarterback Aaron Rodgers would throw for just one touchdown and they probably would have told you they liked their chances to win.

Bush put the blame of the loss on the offenes, and there’s certainly some blame there, but two big plays given up by the defense in the third quarter have to leave a bad taste in an otherwise good defensive effort.

A 67-yard run off the left edge by Randall Cobb set up the third of five Packers field goals.

On the very next Packers possession, it was an 83-yard touchdown from Rodgers to James Jones that broke the game open.

Cornerback Chris Houston said after the game that the defensive play call called for Cover 2 and he was supposed to have help over the top. He went for the jam on Jones at the line of scrimmage and looked up and there was no safety help as Louis Delmas had jumped a route inside.

“We knew they were going to make some plays but we didn’t expect them to make those big plays,” safety Glover Quin said. “They are very devastating.

“It’s hard for a team to just drive the ball all the way down the field and score touchdowns. We saw that today. They might have put some drives together but we held them to five field goals. The only touchdown they scored was a big play.”

The Packers got two big plays on the game and both of them hurt. The Packers turned them into 10 points, in what ended as a 13-point loss.


Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham warned the media this week there was no way his defense would be able to keep up the ridiculous third-down defense percentage they had through the first games of the season.

Turns out he was right.

The defense was allowing opponents to convert on just 21.3 percent of their third downs coming into the game.

Aaron Rodgers and Co. converted 44 percent (7-of-16) of their third downs on Sunday.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game, we knew what he was capable of, we knew the receivers that he has and the weapons he has and we knew that that we were going to take hits but we had to keep responding, keep on coming play-in and play-out,” linebacker DeAndre Levy said.

“We had a couple let downs that led them into field goal range, like I said those field goals add up.”