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Bounce-Back Pack: Packers Dominate Second Half, Beat Lions 35-17

Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes and Aaron Jones scored four times as the Green Bay Packers pulled away from the Detroit Lions on Monday night.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Win or lose in Week 1, it’s lunacy to put too much stock into whatever happens in the first game of an NFL season.

The word “lunacy” is rooted in “lunacy.” So, with a full moon shining over the southeast rim of Lambeau Field before the rain came on Monday night, the Green Bay Packers bounced back from their season-opening debacle against the New Orleans Saints with a 35-17 victory over the Detroit Lions.

It wasn’t as easy as the final score might lead you to believe. The Packers trailed 17-14 at halftime. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s unit was torched in Week 1 by the Saints and it didn’t perform any better in the first half. Lions quarterback Jared Goff was 13-of-16 passing for 137 yards and two touchdowns, good for a 141.9 passer rating. Green Bay gave up points on three of four possessions in the first half and nine of 12 possessions through six quarters of the season.

But the Packers rode running back Aaron Jones to stay in the game in the first half, then buried the Lions in the second half behind Jones and Aaron Rodgers. Late in the fourth quarter, Rodgers had as many touchdowns (four) as incompletions, and Jones matched his career high with four touchdowns.

Rodgers finished 22-of-27 passing for 255 yards and four touchdowns, Davante Adams caught 8-of-9 passes for 121 yards and Jones had 115 total yards and the four scores.

What it means: The Packers are tied with the Chicago Bears for first place in the NFC North with a 1-1 record. They hadn’t started 0-2 since 2006 – Mike McCarthy’s first season – and improved to 7-0 following a regular-season loss under coach Matt LaFleur.

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Key moment: The Packers trailed 17-14 at halftime but got the ball to start the third quarter. Facing a third-and-12, Aaron Rodgers fired a bomb to All-Pro receiver Davante Adams. The coverage from rookie cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu was really good but Rodgers’ pass was perfection. Moments later, Rodgers threw another pinpoint-accurate pass, this one a 22-yard touchdown to tight end Robert Tonyan. Just over 94 1/2 minutes into the season, the Packers had their first lead. The game was over.

Key stat: In each of the previous four regular-season losses, Aaron Rodgers responded with four-touchdown, no-interception performances. When he fired an 11-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Jones late in the third quarter, Rodgers had four touchdowns and zero interceptions – and the Packers were up 28-17.

MVP: When the Packers lost at home against Philadelphia early in 2019, they rebounded a week later with a 34-24 victory over Dallas. Aaron Jones ran for four touchdowns in that game. He scored in four touchdowns in this game, too. Jones became the first Packers running back with three touchdown catches in a game since Andy Uram did it against the Chicago Cardinals in 1942. Uram’s touchdowns covered 64, 36 and 62 yards. Cecil Isbell was the quarterback. For touchdown No. 4, Jones powered in from the 1 to make it 35-17.

What’s next: The Packers will be back in primetime next week with a Sunday night game against the San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco is 2-0, with wins at Detroit in Week 1 and Philadelphia last week.

To state the obvious, the Packers are going to need to step up their game several levels to knock off the Niners – like they did to finally put away the Lions. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is ninth in the league with a passer rating of 111.4. Deebo Samuel is fourth with 15 receptions and first with 282 receiving yards. They’re ninth in rushing despite a bunch of injuries in the backfield. Their defense dominated for most of Week 1 and almost all of Week 2. And need anyone mention how the Packers were dominated in the regular season and the NFC Championship rematch in 2019?

A big key will be the play of Joe Barry's defense. After giving up 38 points in Week 1 and 17 points in the first half on Monday night, it pitched a shutout over the final 30 minutes. Was that legit or fool's gold based on the opponent?