|Photo by Tom Freeman|
(1) The University of Wisconsin marching band played the national anthem before the game, and they did a nice job of it. Somewhere out there on the field, Lions center Dominic Raiola was shouting insults and slurs at the band members, but we did not see any of this from the stands. I am tempted to say that Raiola is typical of the completely classless Detroit Lions organization, starting with Head Coach Jim Schwartz, but if I say that, I also have to give some credit to Lions safety Louis Delmas, who apparently apologized to band members and told them he had enjoyed their performance.
(2) There was a different flyover from the usual Lambeau Field flyover, apparently because of the effects of the government sequestration: the AeroShell Aerobatic team, flying vintage AT-6 propeller planes over the stadium. If I had realized they were coming, I would have snapped a picture, since it would be a lot easier to catch a picture of them than the usual jets.
(3) Finally, on a completely different note, our friend Andrew Bradley noticed Evan Dietrich-Smith throwing up on the sidelines, if I recall correctly, before the second half started. I have no idea what that was all about, but it was unpleasant to watch. It didn't seem to affect his play, however.
Despite all the Packers' sputtering in the red zone, I always felt that the Packers were in charge of this game. It is certainly true that, leading at halftime by the score of 6-3, the Packers were a broken coverage away from trailing in the game. But this was not one of those games where it felt very likely that that could happen. The line provided decent protection to Rodgers (he was only sacked once), Eddie Lacy did a nice job running the ball, gaining 99 yards, and only a penalty late in the game prevented him from going well over 100 yards. Mason Crosby was 5 for 5 on field goals, including 3 from more than 40 yards. Did a little competition in training camp help to pull him out of his slump from last year? Who knows, but right now he is kicking very well. Speaking of Eddie Lacy, I have never seen him in person before, but he looks a lot bigger on the field, for some reason, than he does on TV. I wouldn't quite say he has Earl Campbell thighs, but I thought of Earl when I saw Lacy out on the field. My main critique of Lacy on Sunday was that he doesn't seem, at this stage, to break a lot of tackles. When he is hit, he tends to go down, but he falls forward for a couple of extra yards when he does. If he starts breaking tackles, the sky could be the limit for him.
We were surprised, on the way to the stadium, to hear that Calvin Johnson was inactive for the game. Would he have made the difference for the Lions? We will never know, but with him out of the lineup, it was much easier to key on Reggie Bush and control the Lions. And so they lost in Wisconsin again, as they have every year since 1991.
This week, the Packers travel to Baltimore to play the world champion Ravens. Before the season, I would have seen this game as a likely loss, but I am now much more optimistic about it. The Ravens, although 3-2, are just not playing like the Ravens of 2012. Maybe the loss of Ray Lewis and Anquan Boldin hurt them more than I would have imagined, but for whatever reason they just look more beatable to me. Flacco has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns, and the much-vaunted Ravens running game is producing less than 80 yards per game.
The loss of Clay Matthews for about a month (broken thumb) is very concerning, and indeed three other players have already been declared out for the game (James Starks, Brad Jones, and Greg Van Roten). The Packers are particularly thin at linebacker. Three linebackers from Sunday's game will be out - Matthews, Jones, and Robert Francois (now on IR). So this game will be a real test of the Packers' depth. It would be nice to see them get above .500 for the first time this year. Once could make the argument that this is the toughest game left on the Packers' schedule for the year. This could be a bit of wishful thinking on my part, but I am predicting a Packers victory. Since the Bears already won their fourth game Thursday night, the Packers can't afford to lose any more games that they could win, if they want to keep pace.