FIRST DOWN: SWING SEQUENCE
After playing to a 14-14 tie with the NFC North leading Green Bay Packers Sunday in Detroit, how the Lions came out of the locker room to start the third quarter was going to go a long way in determining Sunday's outcome.
Green Bay took the second-half kickoff and proceeded to drive 75 yards in 14 plays, taking up nearly nine minutes off the third-quarter clock and scoring on an Aaron Rodgers scramble. The Packers converted 3rd and 7, 3rd and 14, 3rd and 4 and the Rodgers touchdown was on a 3rd and 6 play.
Detroit's defense needed a break after that Packers drive, and the Lions' offense needed to counter. Instead, Detroit went three and out and punted right back to Green Bay.
"That's not how we wanted to start the second half," Lions interim head coach Darrell Bevell said after the game. "They came out ... went on a long drive. When that happens, for the offensive side of the ball, we need to respond. And do a good job of giving our defense time to rest and we didn't do that."
Green Bay went on another long drive of 12 plays covering 79 yards and taking another nearly eight minutes off the clock, ending in a touchdown. It gave the Packers a 28-14 lead in an eventual 31-24 victory, and really was the key sequence in the game.
View photos from Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers Week 14 game at Ford Field on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020 in Detroit
SECOND DOWN: MISSING GRIFFEN
Losing one of your best pass rushers on a Saturday before a critical division game is not an ideal situation, but one Bevell and the Lions were faced with after having to place veteran defensive end Everson Griffen on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday.
Griffen was coming off a nice game in Chicago where he had a critical second-half sack that helped Detroit get that win in Chicago. He was excited early in the week talking to the media about the matchup with Rodgers.
Without Griffen, the Packers were able to focus more attention on defensive end Romeo Okwara, and the Lions didn't generate much pressure at all Sunday.
"It's tough," Lions safety Duron Harmon said after the game of playing without Griffen. "The energy that he brings, the effort that he plays with, I mean obviously he's a great player. It's tough, but you know it's the next man up. There's never excuses. We had opportunities, but we couldn't make the plays that we needed to at the crucial parts of the game."
The Lions didn't record a sack and only had one quarterback hit all game. Rodgers was too comfortable for most of Sunday's game.
THIRD DOWN: SWIFT'S RETURN
Rookie running back D’Andre Swift returned to the lineup Sunday after missing Detroit's previous three games with concussion symptoms and an illness.
There was some rust the young rookie had to shake off, but it was good seeing him in the mix on offense again.
"It's great to have D'Andre back out there," Bevell said after the game. "I think he brings a boost to our offense both in the run game and pass game. We'll continue to get him more involved as these weeks go on."
Detroit eased Swift back into the mix this week, giving him seven carries, which he turned into 24 yards and a touchdown. He also caught four passes for another 26 yards. Expect his reps to increase as he gets back into the swing of things again.
FOURTH DOWN: KEEPING UP THE FIGHT
Bevell's message to the team when he took over as interim head coach two weeks ago was to play hard, have fun and just keep playing to the final whistle. Don't look at the scoreboard and just play until the clock reads zero.
We saw that last week in Detroit's come-from-behind victory over Chicago. We saw it again Sunday against Green Bay, though this effort fell short. Detroit could have mailed it in in the fourth quarter down 28-14, but they fought back, kept playing, and were an onside kick that needed a booth review to take a second look at from having a chance to tie the game late.
"I am proud of the team," Bevell said. "These guys are ready to fight. They want to continue to play week in and week out. I think, as you saw, they were in it until the end. And we're going toe to toe with one of the best teams, obviously in our division, but also in the NFC. So I couldn't be happier for these guys and the way that they played."