This went way beyond not having Aaron Rodgers. The Green Bay Packers bottomed out on Thanksgiving Day at Ford Field, getting embarrassed by the Detroit Lions 40-10. With a chance to recapture the lead in the NFC North, despite not having their MVP quarterback since the first series of the Chicago game on November 4, the team melted down completely in all phases. How resounding was this? The offense, led by Matt Flynn in his first start since returning to the club two weeks ago, produced all of 7 first downs, 126 yards and only a 54 yard Mason Crosby field goal after a 24 yard series. The offense turned the ball over four times, two fumbles and two interceptions. Flynn was sacked 7 times including once in the end zone for a safety by Ndamukong Suh.
The defense? It's only getting worse. Sure they came up with three 4 takeaways, including one that produced the only Green Bay touchdown. That happened when Nick Perry strip sacked Matthew Stafford forcing a fumble that Morgan Burnett gobbled up at the one and stepped in, giving the Packers a 10-3 lead. From there it was an avalanche of big plays. Detroit finished with 561 total yards, 330 from Stafford who fired three touchdown passes. On the ground, Reggie Bush piled up 117 yards and Joique Bell added 94 more.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy, red faced and all, had to accept his fate:
And to think this was only a one score game at the half. After David Akers put Detroit in front with a 27 yard field goal in the second quarter, Sam Martin kicked off out of bounds setting up the Packers at their 40. Flynn moved to the Detroit 36 where the drive stalled and Crosby evened the score. 8 seconds later, Perry made his play and the fired up Packers started to believe they might win a 4th straight Thanksgiving Day game in the Motor City. Didn't happen. Jeremy Ross, the ex-Packer caught a 5 yard touchdown pass behind Davon House who had a miserable outing, to tie the game. Ross added explosive plays on special teams. Reggie Bush, who fumbled on the opening series inside the 10 yard line, made amends with a 1 yard touchdown run. Akers missed a 31 yard field goal on the final play of the half and Green Bay retreated to the locker room down 17-10 despite gaining all of 43 yards in the first half.
In the second half, Calvin Johnson caught a 20 yard touchdown pass over the middle, breaking two tackles to the end zone. After starting a series at their own five, Flynn was sacked for the 6th and 7th times on back to back plays, the second cost them two points when Suh made the play. Bell would add a 1 yard TD run in the 4th and Kevin Ogletree got into the act with a 20 yard TD catch with 4;17 to play.
Flynn hit James Jones on a 56 yard play with two minutes to play but fittingly, on the next snap, the quarterback fumbled and Detroit put an end to a 9 game losing streak on the holiday.
The Packers lost center Evan Dietrich-Smith to a knee injury in the first half, forcing T.J. Lang to play center. Ryan Taylor had to leave with a concussion. The rest of the squad was simply shell shocked as I ventured into the locker room afterwards:
The inactives for the day were Aaron Rodgers, Chris Harper, Nate Palmer, Jamari Lattimore, Brandon Bostick, C.J. Wilson and Jerel Worthy. They were the lucky ones. Everyone in uniform should be ashamed as the playoff hopes are now on life support heading to the final month.