Detroit Lions keep rolling, right over the old ghosts of Lambeau Field

by | Sep 29, 2023 | Detroit Free Press, Sports | 0 comments

Aidan Hutchinson said it best when it was all over, smiling and sweating and half-dressed in his postgame TV interview.

“I grew up watching Aaron Rodgers kick our ass every year,” he gushed.

Not anymore.

Bye bye, Mr. Rodgers. If you had any doubts as to who will be favored in this longtime rivalry for the near future, it was settled in a first half of football Thursday night in Green Bay that was so dominant by the Detroit Lions, you almost couldn’t blame them for sleepwalking through the final 30 minutes.

This is not your father’s Green Bay-Detroit football. The Lions spotted the Packers an early interception, then scored on five of their next six drives. They rung up 27 points while allowing Green Bay just three — tying the biggest halftime lead in Lions’ franchise history.

David Montgomery rushed for 121 yards, more than four times the output of the entire Green Bay rushing attack. He also scored three touchdowns. The Detroit defense, fresh off a seven-sack win on Sunday, racked up five more Thursday night and harassed every member of the Packers backfield, limiting them to 22 minutes of offense and a total of 230 yards, including a paltry 27 yards rushing.

If offense were blood counts, the Packers would be anemic.

But wait. Perhaps most shocking of all, Lions fans were all over Lambeau Field, bleeding the green and gold with Honolulu blue, and hanging around after the 34-20 win to make so much noise the postgame TV hosts were hoarse from yelling.

Do you remember, not so long ago, when the words “Lambeau Field” were what you got when you looked up “Places Where the Detroit Lions Always Lose”?

Well. Under Dan Campbell, the Lions have now won their last four meetings with the Packers. Their last four? Yep. And was that Amon-Ra St. Brown, who, last I looked, is on the Lions roster, doing the Lambeau Leap into the arms of delirious LIONS FANS?

Oh, the humanity!

Bye, bye, Mr. Rodgers.

A mauling in the other team’s den

“You saw it, we got our ass kicked” Green Bay coach Matt LeFleur told the media when asked about the first half.

Privately, he won’t get an argument from his team. Their black and blue marks this morning will remind them what a beat down Thursday night really was.

Although the game featured countless images of a wall of Detroit defenders smashing through a hobbled Green Bay line, perhaps one play summed up best.

It came in the first half. Jordan Love, the quarterback who has taken over for Rodgers, saw another wave of Lions defenders charging his way and did what any panicked man would do: got rid of the ball fast, just before Brian Branch left him looking at the sky.

The running back who took the ball, Aaron Jones, fared even worse. Before he could get a step, Detroit’s Cam Sutton hit him so perfectly, he flew into the air, spinning like a pinwheel, and landed with a thud.

Quarterback AND running back, both taken out, on the same play.

The rest of the team would follow suit.

“That’s just who we are,” Goff told the TV crew when asked about Detroit’s intense physicality. He nodded towards Montgomery, sitting beside him. “It starts with this guy. He ran his tail off.”

Well, not entirely. Near as I could tell, he still had a rear end to sit on. But his tail was often all Green Bay defenders saw of him, as Montgomery ripped through them all night, rushing 32 times — 32 times? — pocketing one first down after another and chewing up the clock.

After the game, a TV reporter asked him how sore he was.

“I’ll get a massage tomorrow,” Montgomery said.

Detroit fans will bring the towels. There is no question Montgomery’s acquisition has made the Lions much more dangerous. He is one of a gaggle of new faces making steady impact this first quarter of the season. Rookie tight end Sam Laporta had another good game Thursday, snagging four catches for 56 yards, including a screamer from Goff that Laporta lifted off to catch like a dog leaping for a frisbee.

Meanwhile, Branch, the impressive rookie safety, led the team in tackles, despite missing time with an ankle injury that would likely have sidelined an older man.

Maybe all these new faces are part of why there wasn’t an ounce of hesitation when the Lions took the field in a place that for many years was a graveyard for them. No shivers. No shakes.

You can’t be scared of memories you don’t have.

Bye bye, Mr. Rodgers.

Home away from home

By the way, in case you hadn’t noticed, that win now leaves the Lions alone in first place, atop the NFC North, with a 3-1 record. The Bears and Vikings are already desperately chasing, both at 0-3. That leaves the Packers (2-2) as the biggest threat, and they sure didn’t look like a threat Thursday night. If anyone worried that 15 years of Brett Favre dominance and 15 more by Rodgers would somehow morph into 15 years of the same with Love, well, he’ll have to play a whole lot better than he did on Thursday. Not only was the third-year man harassed into a five-sack, two interception night, but he missed on several makeable throws, and, while he can run, he doesn’t elongate plays nor have the eyes of his predecessor.

Goff, meanwhile, is looking more and more like an underappreciated investment in the Matthew Stafford trade. He’s only 28 and by his own assessment to the media Thursday, “I’m playing the best football of my career.” Hutchinson is inflating into the lofty expectations a No. 2 pick brings with him, inspiring a defense that is playing so fiercely, it’s almost as if someone told them bite off the other guy’s kneecaps.

Still, the thing that may stay with longtime Lions fans this morning is the sight of all those Detroit supporters thundering noise after the game was over. They apparently made the trip to Green Bay and infested the Packers’ home the way so many cheeseheads used to regularly do at Ford Field.

What a switch. What a change of affairs. As Hutchinson, who grew up a Lions fan, said in his postgame glee, “It’s good to be on the winning side of things.”

And to see a place that was always so green suddenly awash in blue.

Bye bye, Mr. Rodgers.

There goes your neighborhood.

Contact Mitch Albom: Check out the latest updates with his charities, books and events at Follow him @mitchalbom.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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