The Detroit Lions played some good football against the Green Bay Packers Monday night, but they didn't play enough of it and they didn't play it long enough.
They were the better team for 30 minutes -- better enough to have a 17-14 lead at halftime. But there was another half to play, and the Packers dominated the final 30 minutes for a 35-17 win.
What we learned about the Lions is similar to what we learned in their 41-33 loss to the 49ers in the opening game. As presently constructed, they aren't good enough to win games unless they're good for the full 60 minutes, or at least closer to it than their opponents.
Among the other things we learned include the following: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers followed up his statement that he'd test young cornerbacks with a big play at a key moment; there is a legitimate debate on whether the Lions' decision to pass on fourth and one was the right call; and wide receiver Quintez Cephus is earning a more prominent role in the offense.
We start with the Lions playing good ball:
They pressed the action from the beginning, scoring on three of their four possessions in the first half. Jared Goff threw TD passes to Cephus and tight end T.J. Hockenson. Austin Seibert closed it out with a 43-yard field goal with three seconds left in the half.
It was an inspiring first half for the Lions. The Packers scored TDs on two of their three possessions.
But that was it for the Lions' offense. They didn't score again, and that's fatal for the Lions considering the massive overhaul they are undertaking with the defense they inherited from the previous regime.
Goff lost one of his two fumbles and had an interception, and he couldn't connect with Cephus on a fourth and one at the Packers' 25.
"I put this on our offense," said head coach Dan Campbell in his postgame press conference. "Offensively, we have to be able to outscore a team like this. That's the way I see it.
"It turned into that type of game again. That's why, to me, this one is on our offense. We are not allowed to make mistakes or have turnovers. You can't rebound from those."
Warning from Rodgers: He meant what he said in his midweek press conference about going after the Lions' young cornerbacks.
"Any time you've got young guys, you're going to test them," he said.
The killer test came on the Packers' first possession of the second half. Facing third and 12 at the Packers' 25, Rodgers launched a long pass down the right sideline, where rookie Ifeatu Melifonwu had tight coverage on All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams. Rodgers threw a perfect pass to Adams, who caught it for a 50-yard gain.
Three plays later, Rodgers beat double coverage with a 20-yard laser to tight end Robert Tonyan for a TD and a 21-17 lead that put the Packers ahead to stay.
Fourth & one: The bottom line on going for it is that what works is right and what fails is wrong.
On this play, the Lions had fourth and one at the Packers' 25 on the possession after the TD pass to Tonyan.
View photos from Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers Week 2 game at Lambeau Field on Monday, Sept. 20 in Green Bay, WI.
The drive was a good answer to the TD drive that put the Packers ahead, but it failed when Goff's pass to Cephus was incomplete.
Personal opinion: I'd like to see the Lions run in that situation, mainly because beating the opponent up front makes a statement that a pass doesn't.
But there's also nothing wrong with throwing in that situation. But as we learned, what doesn't work is wrong.
Role for Cephus: He won't win one-on-ones consistently with his speed, but his strong hands and body control make him a valuable part of the passing game.
He had a 46-yard catch that set up his five-yard TD catch on the Lions' first possession, and he had a TD catch in the opener vs. the 49ers.
There is always a place for players who produce, especially when they produce touchdowns.