Detroit — The play was designed to bounce outside.
That's why Green Bay Packers guard T.J. Lang wasn't concerned with Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy. He wanted to make sure he got a piece of a rush end or outside linebacker to spring running back Eddie Lacy from the end zone. But Levy is in a different place now. He's an elite defender and, even in their muffled tones following a 19-7 loss to the Lions Sunday, the Packers spoke highly of Levy.
In their minds, he's the Lions' best defensive player. It's not Ndamukong Suh or Nick Fairley, although both men made big plays. It's Levy, who is making more noise in this league and earning opponents' respect.
It was Levy who shot the gap and dropped Packers running back Eddie Lacy in the end zone that gave the Lions a 9-7 lead early in the second quarter. You would think with the high-powered Packers offense this would not be a defining play. But it was. The Packers left Ford Field shaking their heads, and giving props to Levy.
"He is an all-around linebacker," said Lang who played at Eastern Michigan. "He plays the run really well and drops into coverage real well. He's definitely a guy you have to be aware of on the field at all times. Last year, he had a hell of a year and this year he's playing great football, also. He's an all-around football player at that position. He plays tough."
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he'd run the play again. He simply wanted better execution.
Strangely the Packers refused to take advantage of the Lions' porous secondary. The excuse was that the Lions were in a bubble shell, which means they flooded the secondary with six and seven defensive players, making it more difficult for Rodgers. The Packers were doomed when they failed to run the football.
James Starks ran just eight times for 38 yards and Lacy (11 carries for 36 yards) continued to struggle. They cursed their own fate because this was a game of missed opportunities for the Packers.
They also cursed Levy but in a respectful way.
"We have a lot of respect for him and he has been playing very well for them," McCarthy said.
Lang was caught in a no man's land on the safety. He knew the play was designed to hit on the outside but Levy shot through the gap so quickly Lang reacted to the blur too late.
"I pulled around to check the defensive end to see if he was (coming)," Lang said. "He (Levy) kind of shot the gap on me and I tried to hinge on him. It might have been a little bit too wide but it was a good play on him. He shot right up into the gap. He is a hell of a player. It was a good play by him."
Not the same
This is definitely not the Green Bay team that has caused havoc in the NFC North Division the past five years. Injuries have been costly. After a 47-17 run the Packers are 9-9-1 their last 19 games, although they rallied to win the division last season.
The Packers give away games now. Or at least they try to. Against the Lions they got off to their third straight sluggish start but this time there was no happy ending.
It's difficult to win games when the opponent's defense outscores your offense, but that's exactly what happened.
Where was the high-powered offense? Where was Aaron Rodgers peppering a secondary that lacks bodies and confidence? The Packers could not take advantage of three Lions turnovers — two interceptions and a fumble by quarterback Matthew Stafford.
The Pack tried to run the ball but failed.
"I felt like we were committed to the run," McCarthy said. "I am sure that will be written about."
He seemed more upset with an early fumble by Lacy that safety Don Carey scooped up for a 40-yard touchdown. On the day the Packers gave the Lions nine points during a 12-point loss, that was the deal breaker.
"There is no excuse for that," McCarthy said.
The Packers flew out disappointed and believe they were their own worst enemies. They made too many mistakes and allowed the Lions to hang onto the ball for way too long. The Lions enjoyed a 17-minute advantage in time of possession and the Packers wilted.
"I felt like we had opportunities to make big plays," Lang said.
"We just couldn't hit the hole or finish the block and get people into the secondary. It was as simple as that. We expected that to be a big part of our offense."