GREEN BAY, Wis. – Statistically speaking, homefield advantage was no advantage at all during the first two weeks of the NFL season, with the home team posting a 15-16 record entering Monday night.
For the Green Bay Packers, however, there’s no place like home.
After COVID-19 kept the fans away last season, the Packers soaked up the energy provided by the 77,240 in attendance on Monday night to beat the Detroit Lions 35-17. Aaron Jones stole the show with four touchdowns and the first fans-in the-stands Lambeau Leaps since 2019.
“It was fun,” Jones said. “It’s special playing here in front of a packed crowd. The fans really bring the juice, and they give us the extra added energy that we need. Last year, we had to bring our own juice. You get out there, and it’s kind of like they brought the juice for you. So, I love playing in front of a packed Lambeau crowd, running out of that tunnel to 80,000.”
Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes to improve his career home record as a starter to a stellar 76-18-1, a winning percentage of .805. For comparison, his winning percentage is .664 on the road.
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“Yeah, it’s special,” Rodgers said with a smile. “It’s what you miss. An entire year without this type of atmosphere, you miss everything from the intro with the people holding the phones up or lights or whatever it was to the flyover. Yeah, it’s special. There’s nothing like that feeling – Jump Around in the fourth quarter when you’re ahead, Roll Out the Barrel, the beer races – with the crowd, though. With the crowd, it’s way different.
Where there was plenty of the Lions’ Honolulu blue dotting the bleachers, especially behind their bench, they were drowned out by Green Bay’s fans. They were loud throughout, even while the team was struggling to keep pace with the Lions in the first half.
The crowd roared during the Lions’ 2-minute drive at the end of the half, with Green Bay getting a key stop to limit the damage to a field goal and a 17-14 deficit at intermission. Davante Adams’ game-turning, 50-yard reception on third-and-12 early in the third quarter sent a jolt through the stadium. The fans kept it up as rain fell during the later stages of the game. And several thousand stuck around for the on-the-field interviews after the game and congregated at the Packers’ tunnel to say thanks to Green Bay’s three offensive stars when they walked to the locker room.
“It gives us a lot of energy, man,” Adams said. “It just kind of wakes up a few of the people that maybe aren’t already ready. Just having them be able to look up after a big play, just kind of feed off that energy they give us. So, it’s 100 percent positive, man. We love it.”
Packers coach Matt LaFleur is a league-best 15-2 in regular-season home games. With his defense on the field, he repeatedly waved his arms or a towel to coax a bit more noise out of the fans. Unlike the preseason – perhaps due in part to some videoboard messaging – they cranked up the noise at the appropriate times.
“It was great to be back in Lambeau,” he said. “Definitely felt the fans’ presence. It was long overdue. I think you can all attest to that.”