For a change, Lions have QB edge over Packers
The Sports Xchange
GREEN BAY — Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy walked into Lambeau Field on Monday sporting an 18-4 record against the Detroit Lions.
Whether it was Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers, McCarthy had the better quarterback for most of those matchups.
On Monday night, with Rodgers on injured reserve due to a broken collarbone, Matthew Stafford gave the Lions an insurmountable edge.
Stafford lit up the Packers with 26-of-33 passing for 361 yards with two touchdowns and a passer rating of 132.4.
That easily outpaced Rodgers’ replacement, Brett Hundley, who was 26 of 38 for 245 yards with no touchdowns and a rating of 86.0.
The Lions rolled to a 30-17 victory.
“He threw a lot of balls that, the last time we played them, we would’ve got our hands on the ball,” Packers cornerback Davon House said of Stafford. “This time, he was more like Aaron where he threw it only where his receivers could catch it. He’s got a lot better.”
Both teams are 4-4, and neither team is exactly hot heading into the second half of the season. Detroit had lost three in a row; Green Bay has lost three in a row. However, with Stafford under center, the Lions have a chance to make a run at a playoff spot in the wide-open NFC.
Stafford led the Lions to an opening-drive touchdown. House had excellent coverage on Marvin Jones, but Stafford threw a perfect 25-yard touchdown pass the right sideline.
On the 11-yard, game-clinching touchdown pass to Jones in the fourth quarter, cornerback Damarious Randall was in good position, but the ball to Jones was impeccably placed.
“(Stafford) brings it every single week, no matter how he is feeling,” said receiver Golden Tate, who caught seven passes for a game-high 113 yards. “He has taken a lot of hits this year. There are some times where I thought he might miss a few weeks, too, but he just finds a way.
“He finds a way and brings it every single day. Mentally, he is incredibly strong. Physically, he can do anything. That is enough to motivate me to be really, really good for him.
“This is a guy who deserves to thrive in this league, experience playoff games, playoff wins, NFC Championship Games and even the Super Bowl. He deserves it. He is that type of quarterback, and I want to be a part of it and help him get there.”
Hundley again struggled to fill the huge void left by Rodgers. He had fewer than 100 passing yards before leading two fourth-quarter touchdown drives.
Rodgers spoke this week of potentially returning at the end of the season to lead a playoff run. For that to happen, the Packers are going to have to turn their season around quickly.
“Aaron’s a good help, he’s a brother of mine, and he said, ‘Keep your head up. Keep pushing,’” Hundley said. “We’ve got to focus week by week. We can’t let this loss or the last loss define us as a team, and it won’t. We’ll shake this off.
“It’s going to hurt. It hurts talking to you guys after a loss. I want to stand up here with a W, but tomorrow we’re going to wake up. We’ve got to go to work.”
Quarterback wasn’t Green Bay’s only problem. Packers rookie running back Aaron Jones, who topped 100 rushing yards in two of his previous three games, was limited to 12 yards on five carries by the same Detroit defense that held Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell in check last week.
Green Bay, which entered the week ranked in the bottom third of the league in total defense, rushing defense, sacks, third-down and red-zone offense, is trending in the wrong direction.
“Brett Hundley played better tonight, and I have great faith in Brett Hundley. Brett Hundley’s not our issue,” McCarthy said. “There’s some very lopsided statistics. Look close at those. They told the story tonight.
“Third down -- they owned it. You can’t have that much variance and production on both sides on third down and think you’re going to win football games. They made big plays.
“Stafford, I thought he threw the heck out of the ball tonight. And they caught it in tough coverages. A lot of competitive catches. We needed to be a step better a number of times tonight. And we’ve got to get (it fixed) fast and apply it to Chicago.”
The Packers visit the Bears on Sunday, while the Lions return home to face the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.