It’s too early in the season to say there’s been a changing of the guard in the NFC North. But the Lions did just take a big step toward establishing themselves as contenders.
With the defending NFC North champion Packers in town, an injury-riddled Detroit secondary played surprisingly solid defense against Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Co. and won a hard-fought game, 19-7.
The Lions were aided by Packers coach Mike McCarthy’s suspect play calling: Despite the big holes in the Lions’ secondary, McCarthy opened the game by trying to establish the run and getting the ball to running back Eddie Lacy. That didn’t work well at all, as a Lacy fumble was picked up by Detroit’s Don Carey and returned for a touchdown to give the Lions an early 7-0 lead, and Lacy was later tackled in the end zone for a safety to give Detroit a 9-7 lead.
The Lions’ offense struggled early on, with Matthew Stafford throwing two first-half interceptions and losing a fumble in the red zone on the first drive of the second half. But they eventually began to make things happen, and a Reggie Bush 26-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter put the game away.
Bush’s run — and the Lions’ offense in general — was aided late in the game by the absence of Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, who left with a groin injury and did not return.
There are still plenty of questions in Detroit, especially on special teams, where rookie kicker Nate Freese missed another field goal — his fourth miss already this season. But the Lions played well and improved to 2-1 — a game ahead of the Packers for first place in the NFC North.