GREEN BAY, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – The first Lambeau Leap of the 2020 season did not come from a Green Bay Packer.
No, Detroit’s Kerryon Johnson earned that honor with a 1-yard touchdown run as the Lions roared out of the gate Sunday, dominating the first quarter with impressive 75-yard touchdown drives for a 14-3 lead.
Then Aaron Jones took over as the Packers reeled off 31 straight points in a 42-21 rout at fanless Lambeau Field. The Packers running back scored three touchdowns in amassing career highs for rushing yards (168) and total yards (236) in a game, leaping after each score into the empty stands onto tarps adorned with sponsor logos.
It was Jones’ highlight-reel 75-yard touchdown run on the opening play of the second half for a 24-14 lead that stunned Detroit and ignited the rout.
“Well, it certainly wasn’t the start that we wanted to the game,” Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said. “But I thought our guys kind of hung together and didn’t blink. Nobody pointed the finger. They looked inward, were able to come out and execute, and it was a good team win.”
With the victory, LaFleur improved to 7-0 against NFC North opponents in his two-year tenure in Green Bay. The Packers, 2-0, share the division lead with undefeated Chicago, while the Lions and Minnesota Vikings are 0-2.
Green Bay did not escape the victory unscathed, as Adams is nursing a hamstring injury, center Cory Linsley injured his hand, and running back Tyler Erwin was evaluated for a concussion.
Jones’ production was aided by the fact that Detroit was focused on taking receiver Davante Adams out of the game. Jones rushed 18 times for a stellar 9.3-yard average and two touchdowns, and was the team’s leader with four receptions for a game-high 68 yards.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who had another impressive outing with 240 yards passing (18 of 30) and two touchdowns, knows the value of his fourth-year running back.
“It was pretty amazing, “ Rodgers said. “He’s such a talented guy and does so many things for our offense. It was obvious that the game plan (for Detroit) was to take Davante (Adams) out. He was doubled very heavily the majority of the time that he was outside, so we got the running game going.
“The big sequence was obviously the end of the first half getting a touchdown, coming out (after halftime), one play 75 yards—Jonesy, such a game breaker-and then a pick-six, kind of going from 14-10 to 31-14 pretty quick.”
Green Bay woke up in the second quarter and scored 14 points on Rodgers’ touchdown passes to Jones and tight end Robert Tonyan while the Green Bay defense adjusted and held the Lions scoreless to lead 17-14 at intermission.
Jones’ touchdown to open the second half was a 75-yard game-changer.
The speedy back burst up the middle, split two late-closing Detroit defenders at the second level, and was off to the end zone for a 24-14 Green Bay lead just 12 seconds into the third quarter.
Chandon Sullivan, an emerging third-year pro, delivered the decisive blow on Detroit’s second possession of the half.
Pinned back at the Lions’ 5-yard line by JK Scott’s punt and a Detroit penalty on the kick, quarterback Matt Stafford was pressured in his end zone and threw an ill-advised pass to Danny Amendola on a short out pattern.
Sullivan read it and undercut the route, picking off the throw at the 7-yard line and stumbling down untouched inside the 5 and rolling into the end zone to expand the lead to 31-14.
A Mason Crosby field goal and Jones’ 14-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter after a Detroit score accounted for the 42-21 final tally.
After they fell behind early in the third quarter, Detroit was forced to abandon the run and pass. Stafford finished with 244 yards passing, completing 20 of 33 passes and two touchdowns and the one costly interception.
Lions punter Jack Fox had a magnificent game, booming five punts for 271 yards—a 54.2 yard average (53.0 net). He placed two inside the Green Bay 20 and blasted two punts from the Detroit end zone to flip the field position: a 57-yarder in the second quarter and a 67-yarder in the final stanza.
“We made too many mistakes today and they did a nice job of capitalizing on them,” Stafford said. “Obviously being down 21 points late in the fourth quarter, that’s not a place you want to be.”
The Packers travel to New Orleans Sunday evening to face Drew Brees and the Saints in a much-hyped match-up of NFC powers.