Packers vs Lions: Second String Samurai
Packers (14-1) vs Lions (10-5)
Date: January 1st
At: Green Bay
Outcome: 41-45 Packers
Seems a bit close, doesn’t it? However, the Lions are second in our division this year and seven of our biggest playmakers were inactive for this game. So…you know, that tends to change things.
The Lions played a great game, and even though a lot of our people were out resting up for the playoffs, I’m not so sure the game would have been that much easier if we’d had our first string lineup, at least defensively.
As predicted, the Lions did far more passing than rushing, but with the precision of Matthew Stafford and receivers the size of oak trees like Calvin Johnson and Tony Scheffler, the predictability didn’t matter this time. I mean, I missed the first two minutes of the game due to DVR error of some kind and by the time I tuned in, we’re already down 9 points. I know, I know, the safety was not caused by anything the Lions did and more by the sloppy touchback made by Pat Lee upon receiving the ball after the Lions’ touchdown…but still! Even if our complete first string defense had been in the game, I think the Lions would have trampled them down the field anyway.
In the end, what killed the Lions was penalties (11 for 101 yards) and a very unlucky technicality. In the second quarter, Stafford threw a touchdown pass that was ruled out of bounds by the referee on the field, and therefore booth did not review it since that is only for plays ruled as scores. Because Lions coach Jim Schwartz had already used his two challenges, he was not allowed to challenge the ruling. However, due to the magic of playback technology, the commentators and everyone at home could see that should have been a touchdown.
No doubt people in Michigan will be whining about this one for weeks. Of course it’s an unfortunate mistake, but then again no one was holding a gun to Schwartz’s head telling him to use his two challenges. He made his calls and he has to live with that.
I will say that the two challenges per game is a crappy rule, as is only reviewing catches in the endzone that are called scores by the refs on the field. The whole challenge system is in place because we all recognize that the refs on the field make mistakes. They should really review any catch that is made in the endzone unless it is obviously incomplete. It’s the only way to make sure you get things right because, honestly, no team wants to win just because they refs made a mistake. They’ll take the win, sure, but it’s not really a happy win.
Inactive: Matthews, Woodson.
For people who have been watching throughout the season, let me ask you something: did the defense play THAT much worse without these two?
Maybe the game would’ve felt different to the people on the field with Matthews out there scaring the hell out of everyone, but I think the outcome would’ve been relatively the same, especially because the Lions had mainly a passing game and the Packers were having an even harder time than usual covering those receivers. Woodson might have made the bigger difference since he is the interception king, but that would’ve shifted things by maybe one touchdown. Otherwise, the defense looked pretty much the same as always.
It’s unfortunate that our coverage is lacking and that two of our strongest players don’t appear to have as big of an effect as you would expect. On the other hand, it also means our second string defense is that good at compensating for their absence, which is comforting to know going into the playoffs.
Inactive: Rodgers, Starks, Bulaga, Jenning, Cobb. Clifton started but was taken out after one quarter.
The big story here is of course Matt Flynn breaking the single game passing and touchdown team records on his second career start. I know it’s cool, but you also have to recognize that this is a game where really nothing was on the line and he was able to take any risks he wanted. The fact that they paid off is the impressive part.
Another thing to consider is that Aaron Rodgers, who held the previous touchdown record at 5, is a first string quarterback (shocking, I know). The point is that he has had many games where he had scored 5 touchdowns, but was then taken out of the game and the backup was sent in because things were going so well. With Matt Flynn being the backup, no one was going to come out and replace him.
I’m not saying what Flynn did wasn’t awesome, I’m saying that…well frankly, in light of his contract expiring this year, I think it would be a bad move for him to become a first string quarterback just yet. He played a great game and yes, he set some team records, but he also threw an interception, suffered a couple sacks and generally seemed a little nervous here and there. In a couple years he will be ready to start, but I think he should hold off for now. Maybe that’s just me not wanting to play against him next year, but I think my point is still valid.
In other news, Nelson, Grant and Jones are all rock stars and I hope they never change. I’m still iffy on Finley based on his performance in recent games, but he did complete most of his passes and scored another touchdown. So, in light of it being the end of the regular season, I’ll stop bitching about him…for now.
NEXT WEEK: Bye. I hope they enjoy their rest, because after that, losing actually means something bad happens.