The Green Bay Packers hosted the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field for an NFC North special edition of Monday Night Football.
Surprisingly, Detroit got off to a hot start and went up 10-0 in the first quarter. Thanks to a huge blunder which we’ll get into here shortly, Green Bay was able to bounce back in the second quarter and the Lions carried a 13-10 lead into halftime.
The Lions did enough to win in the second half. But in the end the Packers eked out a 23-22 victory thanks in large part to some of the worst officiating we’ve seen in a long, long time.
These were the biggest winners and losers from the Packers’ win over their rival on Monday Night Football.
Winner: Packers steal a game to stay atop the division
Every win is so important, and with their win Monday night the Packers are in sole possession of first place in the competitive NFC North.
It wasn’t pretty, and the Packers have some big concerns. In particular, the situation at wide receiver with Davante Adams out (toe) and Geronimo Allison suffering a scary-looking upper-body injury, the team’s receiving corps is frightfully thin.
But thanks to a dominant defense and an emerging run game, along with one of the best quarterbacks in football, the Packers are in great shape heading into Week 7.
Loser: Aaron Jones went from hero to goat
Last weekend, Aaron Jones was Mr. Do-it-all for the Packers, racking up 182 yards and four touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys. Back at home for this one, he opened the game with a brutal fumble that was recovered by the Lions and led to a field goal for Detroit.
Then, Jones doubled down on his earlier mistake with an epic gaffe. He was wide open near the goal line and would have had a touchdown reception. But instead, he dropped the perfectly-thrown pass.
Jones went on to finish with just 47 yards on the ground, adding four catches for just 13 yards.
Winner: Kenny Golladay had a monster first half
On the first play from scrimmage, Kenny Golladay announced he was going to be a major factor. The Lions caught the Packers with their pants down on a sweet flea-flicker, and Golladay roasted his man deep downfield for a 66-yard gain.
By halftime, Golladay had hauled in four passes for 105 yards. He went on to finish with five receptions for 121 yards.
Loser: Lions make inexcusable mistake at key moment
On the same drive that featured the brutal drop by Aaron Jones, Rodgers had a second touchdown throw dropped by Jimmy Graham. After getting lucky twice, Detroit forced Green Bay to settle for a field goal attempt, down 13-0.
Then, disaster struck. The Lions were busted with 12 men on the field for the Packers’ field-goal attempt.
The five-yard penalty gave Rodgers and Co. another first down, and two plays later Jamaal Williams scored the first touchdown of the game for the Packers.
This inexcusable lapse of discipline changed the entire tenor of this game. It swung the momentum to Green Bay for the first time. Fans were justifiably furious.
Winner: The Smith Bros are really something special
Not for the first time this season, Green Bay’s defense got huge contributions from Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. These two now have more sacks in 2019 than any other duo in the NFL after another stellar outing on Monday Night Football.
Za’Darius Smith had four tackles and a key sack on a third down in the first half. Not to be outdone, Preston Smith tallied four tackles and had 1.5 sacks in timely situations, including right at the end of the third quarter to shut down a Detroit offensive possession on third down.
Loser: Darrius Shepherd with night to forget
Early in the third quarter tied up at 13-13, after Green Bay’s defense stopped Matthew Stafford and Co. in their tracks with a huge sack, the Packers had a chance to take the lead with one more offensive possession.
Instead, Darrius Shepherd muffed the punt and the Lions recovered.
This mistake gave Detroit a free chance at points, and they converted a field goal a few snaps later.
As if that weren’t bad enough, Shepherd was in position to catch a touchdown, or at least a catch near the goal line, in the fourth quarter. Instead, he slipped, and the ball hit him in the facemask after going right through his hands. Then it was picked off by Justin Coleman, who ran it back 55 yards.
Winner: Matt Prater was solid gold
In a game that saw both teams struggle to score touchdowns, the right leg of Lions kicker Matt Prater was worth its weight in gold.
Prater was lethal from long range, hitting from 48, 51, and 54 yards out. He ended the game having made all five of his field-goal attempts and his only extra-point attempt.
Loser: Refs were atrocious
A weekly refrain, I know. But the officiating crew covering the Monday Night Football game at Lambeau did a horrible job. They also royally screwed the Lions on more than one occasion late in the game. The biggest mistakes were so bad even Packers fans would have to agree the Lions got shafted.
Detroit’s defensive line collapsed the pocket on a third down midway through the fourth quarter, sacking Aaron Rodgers to bring up fourth-and-long. Only, instead of getting off the field, the refs called a phantom hands-to-the-face penalty against Trey Flowers.
This penalty gave Green Bay a first down, and then three snaps later Aaron Rodgers threw a jaw-dropping touchdown to Allen Lazard to pull to within two points. But, Lazard probably didn’t score a touchdown, as you’ll see here.
On Detroit’s next offensive possession, Stafford threw deep to Marvin Jones, who was clearly the victim of defensive pass interference.
But no flag was thrown. Instead of possessing the ball well in Green Bay territory with a fresh set of downs, the Lions were forced to punt.
So, to recap, in a period of roughly three minutes of game time, the Packers received three gifts from the refs that, without a shadow of doubt, altered the outcome of this contest.
Oh, and for good measure, the refs once again threw a bogus flag on Trey Flowers with less than two minutes left in the game, on another third-down stop for Detroit.
What an atrocity. What an embarrassment for the NFL. This cannot happen. Yet it did, and it absolutely cost the Lions a win.