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O'HARA'S MONDAY COUNTDOWN: Lions show fight but come up short vs. Packers

When the Detroit Lions needed their defense to make a stand against the Green Bay Packers' offense and turn the game over to their offense with the score still tied to start the second half, the defense couldn't do it.

Instead, it folded on back to back possessions that ended in Packers' touchdowns.

When the Lions needed the offense to put a drive together to give the defense relief from being on the field for almost the first nine minutes of the second half, the offense failed.

It ran three plays, gained a net of four yards, and sent the defense back on the field to chase the Packers' offense on another scoring drive that lasted almost eight more minutes.

There is no glory in losing in pro football, and the Lions aren't looking for participation medals for their performance in Sunday's 31-24 loss to the Packers.

The bottom line on Sunday's game is that the Lions weren't as good as the Packers Sunday, and they weren't as good as the Packers in Week 2 when they took a 42-21 whipping on the road at Lambeau Field.

But there is a difference between the Lions of Week 2 and the team that played Sunday. This week's Monday Countdown looks at what separates the teams in substance, if not results.

There's also a look at Matthew Stafford's rib injury and what it means, two series that showed how Aaron Rodgers takes over a game along with takeaways on offense, defense and special teams, and what's trending for the Lions.

View photos from Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers Week 14 game at Ford Field on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020 in Detroit

We start with the Lions of Week 2 and Week 15 vs. the Packers:

1. "Fight:" That was one of the words used by interim head coach Darrell Bevell to describe how the Lions played. I get the cynicism from those who'd say that's what they expect from an interim coach auditioning to get hired as a head coach, either by the Lions or one of the teams that will be in the market for a head coach after this season.

Bevell wasn't as upbeat as last week after the Lions' win over the Bears in his debut as interim head coach. You wouldn't expect him to be, either.

But the Lions really did play better with less against the Packers on Sunday than they did in Week 2. The stats show that. So does the eye test.

In Week 2, the Lions had a 14-3 lead, then gave up 31 straight points. The worst moment of the game was the 75-yard TD run they gave – literally – to Packers running back Aaron Jones on the first play of the second half.

The Lions were on the verge of getting trucked Sunday when the 14-14 tie at halftime became a 28-14 deficit on two straight TD drives by the Packers.

That didn't happen. The Lions fought back to make it 28-21 on Kerryon Johnson's TD to cap a 75-yard, 13-play drive that put the Lions within a TD at 28-21 with 6:30 left.

The Lions never got any closer than seven points, but at least they made the Packers play it to the end.

2. Stafford's injury: No surprise that Stafford would want to go back in after getting hurt on a tackle by Kenny Clark on a scramble for a first down. Johnson scored on a two-yard run on the next play to cut the Packers' lead to 28-21.

Chase Daniel finished up the game and led the Lions to a field goal that closed out the scoring.

Stafford's pain was real. So is his desire to play if at all possible – and often stretching the limits of what's considered possible for most players. That includes wanting to play last year with broken bones in his lower back.

"He was in pain, for sure," Daniel said. "He had just gotten bent over backward and sideways. He took a crucial hit. He was the main reason we were on that drive. That was a big third down.

"I just saw the hit on replay. It wasn't dirty or anything, but it looked like it hurt."

3. Aaron Rodgers, long and short: The way he plays quarterback could almost be described as elegant. There's little wasted motion. He can slide right in the pocket and throw back left without breaking stride.

The Packers' first TD drive covered 75 yards and ended in a 65-yard pass to Davante Adams.

Rodgers used more of his arsenal on the second TD drive. It covered 69 yards on 12 plays – six passes, five running plays and a scramble by Rodgers for a first down. It ended in a 14-yard pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who caught the ball in the front right corner of the end zone on a ball thrown perfectly so the receiver could react to it before cornerback Amani Oruwariye could.

4. Aaron Rodgers, on the run: Rodgers used his legs to score the third-quarter touchdown that gave the Packers a 21-14 lead.

On third and six, he slid out of the pocket when the Lions' pass rush failed to contain him.

Rodgers beat the pursuit to the left front corner of the end zone.

It was almost like Rodgers decided he wanted to get in on the fun.

5. Takeaways, offense:

  • I thought they played small ball too much, especially after the Packers got a 28-14 lead. It would have been a good time to go no-huddle and pick up the tempo.
  • An inside shovel pass from the one-yard line to tight end T.J. Hockenson for the Lions' first TD and a 7-0 lead was a clever call.
  • It looked like the Lions had to work harder to gain 293 yards than it did for the Packers to gain their 410. That might be because Stafford was sacked four times, and Rodgers was hit once without a sack.

6. Takeaways, defense:

  • Oruwariye was victimized on the receptions that produced the Packers' first two TDs. However, the catch by Adams did not have to go for a 56-yard TD with any help from the deep middle.
  • The Lions held Rodgers to his average – three TD passes. Now he has 39 in 13 games.
  • The Lions helped the Packers' offensive line lower its average of sacks allowed to one per game. By not sacking Rodgers, he's been sacked 13 times in 13 games. Must be nice.

7. Takeaways, special teams:

  • Jamal Agnew is still a threat on kickoff returns. He broke one for 71 yards that set up Matt Prater's 32-yard field goal with 1:49 left. That closed out the scoring at 31-24, the final margin.
  • The Packers had two yards of return yardage on three punts by Jack Fox.

8. Trending

  • Up: Agnew. He had a long kickoff return and an 11-yard run on an end around. It was the Lions' longest run from scrimmage. He also had a tackle on special teams.
  • Down: Pass protection. Four sacks allowed by the Lions.
  • Even: John Penisini. The rookie defensive tackle had one of the Lions' two tackles for loss. Overall, the run defense was acceptable – 120 yards allowed on 31 rushes, with a long run of 11 yards. That's better than the 259 they gave up to the Packers in Week 2, with 168 by Aaron Jones.

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