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FOUR DOWNS: Lions lost battle at line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball vs. Packers


We haven't said this too often this season, but Detroit lost the battle at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football Thursday afternoon in their 29-22 defeat at the hands of the Green Bay Packers.

One of the top offensive lines in football didn't have their best game against an aggressive Packers front seven that features a terrific edge duo in Rashan Gary and Preston Smith. Gary had a monster game with 3.0 sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. The Packers totaled 12 quarterback hits by seven different players.

The offensive line was solid providing holes in the run game with Detroit rushing for 140 yards, but the Packers had them on their heels in the pass game.

Defensively, the Lions were held without a sack for the fourth time this season. They only hit Love four times all game as the marriage between Detroit's rush and cover wasn't good enough. Love looked comfortable in the pocket all game, finishing with three touchdown passes and a 125.5 passer rating.

"I think that's fair," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said when asked after the game if he though Green Bay won the line of scrimmage Thursday.

View photos from the Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions Week 12 game at Ford Field on Thursday, Nov. 23 in Detroit, MI.


Campbell has an aggressive mentality on fourth down that's led to some key moments in victories, but with that approach fans have to take the bad with the good.

In Detroit's Week 1 win over Kansas City, Campbell faked a punt on their second possession of the game on a 4th and 2 at Detroit's 17-yard line on a direct snap to the upback Jalen Reeves-Maybin. Reeves-Maybin gained three yards and a first down. The Lions drove all the way down the field and finished the drive on a Jared Goff to Amon-Ra St. Brown nine-yard touchdown.

Campbell tried a similar fake Thursday at the Detroit 23-yard line that didn't work. It was 4th and 4 and the direct snap to Reeves-Maybin this time went for no gain. The Lions turned it over, putting their defense in a bad spot. Green Bay scored three plays later on a 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jordan Love to wide receiver Christian Watson.

"Bad call," Campbell said. "I shouldn't have done that to those guys. Bad call."

Goff defended Campbell after the game saying the team has a ton of confidence in Campbell making that call and it's on the players to have his back and make up for the rare time he makes the call and it doesn't work. The Lions were 7-of-8 converting fake punts in the Campbell era coming into Thursday.

"We trust the hell out of him when he makes those calls," Goff said. "Most of the time he's right. When he's not we have to pick him up and make the plays to help us win the game. We trust the hell out of him and love when he puts us in situations to make him right."


The first thing Campbell acknowledged in his postgame press conference Thursday was how well the Packers played. Green Bay did a great job protecting Love and making plays in the passing game. Most importantly, they did not turn the ball over. Defensively they pressured Goff all game and generated three takeaways.

Campbell talked about Thursday being the kind of loss he hopes is a wakeup call to his team. They aren't going to cruise to a division title or the playoffs.

"The easy thing is to get in panic mode," he said. "I know what it looks like and it wasn't good enough out there but I'm not panicked. We have the right guys here. We know how to play. We have to clean some things up and we'll have six (games) to go when we get back.

"The fight is on, man. We didn't think this was going to be some cruise control. We are going to have to fight, scratch and fight and claw for everything. We have to. That's the type of team we are. That's where we're at."


One area in particular where Campbell wants to see his defense make strides the final month and a half of the season is in the takeaway department. The Lions didn't force a takeaway against the Packers Thursday in what ended as a one-score loss. They lost the turnover battle 3-0.

The Lions ranked just 24th in the NFL coming in with 12 takeaways all season. When Detroit turned things around defensively the second half last season and were playing much better football their defense was a big catalyst by generating takeaways.

"We have to get takeaways," Campbell said. "We have to. That's something that we desperately need to work on. We're not getting those enough right now. To me, that's a mindset. It's something we need to work on."

Campbell said it's something he'll really emphasize next week when the Lions get back to work in Allen Park and start preparing for a road test in New Orleans.

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