I don't want to say I gave up on the Lions beating the Packers in Lambeau the moment I heard Calvin Johnson was out, but on the way to my friend's house before the game, I was already mentally writing the opening narrative to this post using the "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" lyric "cellophane flowers of yellow and green, towering over your head." Don't worry, I've won't be moving forward with that idea.
Instead, this is the narrative of this post: Meh. Whatever.
Last year, we saw what the Lions offense looked like with a decimated receiving corp. It was not pretty. Yesterday, we were given a haunting reminder of just how essential both Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson are to the team, even with Reggie Bush on the roster. None of this was particularly surprising, but, regardless, it was not fun to see.
Luckily, the stakes were not very high for the Lions. There was little-to-no expectations for Detroit to win this game. With the Bears falling to the Saints, the Lions still remain in first place in the North. And the Lions still have a winning record, both overall and in the division.
I don't think I learned anything particularly interesting about the team this week. People will point to the offensive line and start worrying about the true nature of their talent. But the truth is, the biggest reason Matthew Stafford was kept relatively clean through four weeks was because he was getting the ball off quickly (in fact, quickest in the league), not because of particularly amazing pass protection. When his receivers weren't getting open against the Packers and he was forced to hold onto the ball longer, the line couldn't hold up. This isn't particularly shocking to me. Riley Reiff has been giving up pressures all season long, but Stafford's quick release has bailed him out several times. Now he's given up strip-sacks in two straight games. He hasn't been terrible, but he's been worse than most people are giving him credit for. The honeymoon period of our relationship with Reiff after divorcing Jeff Backus is nearing its end.
As for the defensive side of the ball, it was a mixed bag. They gave up several big plays and were poor against the run. However, these are things that have already been happening all season. They've given up the most rushes of 40+ yards (3) all season, and the fourth-most passes of 40+ yards (4). And prior to Sunday, they were already giving up 5.2 a carry (now 5.3). But they also held the Packers to just one touchdown and 22 points, well under Green Bay's season average (29.5). So that was cool, I guess.
In the end, the Lions lost to a good team while short-handed, in a stadium they have trouble winning every year. The team committed some of the same errors that they have all season. It's just a lot more noticeable when the end result is a loss. So, excuse me while I take almost nothing from this game and move onto Cleveland for next week.