Four downs: Washington gives run game only life
First down: With Ameer Abdullah on injured reserve, the Lions’ ground game struggled to get going against the Packers. Theo Riddick, who had been off to a strong start to the season, didn’t show that early-season vision, routinely running into the back of his linemen.
Rookie Dwayne Washington, on the other hand, flashed some promise when he entered the game in the second quarter. He finished with modest production, but 3.8 yards per carry against a defense that had been allowing 1.6 yard per attempt and held Riddick to 10 yards on nine carries is something.
Riddick remains a valuable weapon as a receiver and change-of-pace back, but the Lions need to consider giving more responsibility to Washington starting next week in Chicago.
Second down: Left tackle Taylor Decker had exceeded early-season expectations coming into the game against the Packers, but the first-round draft pick looked like a rookie in the loss.
Decker gave up two sacks, drew a holding penalty and had a hard time handling Green Bay’s edge defenders through much of the contest. Games like this are part of the inherent risk of rolling with an inexperienced player on the blindside.
“It’s one of those things,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “I thought for the better part of the day he was hanging in there pretty well, but had a little problem here or there. But he’s going to be a heck of a player. He’s a smart, tough guy and he’ll be all right.”
Third down: It certainly wasn’t a game-deciding play, but a 66-yard pass interference infraction committed by Nevin Lawson helped put the Lions in an early 18-point hole.
The penalty came when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers rolled out of the pocket and heaved a deep ball to rookie Trevor Davis streaking down the middle of the field. Lawson grabbed the receiver’s right arm, but let go before the ball arrived. The pass was a little long and Davis stumbled to the ground, drawing the flag.
“I feel like we both were playing the ball,” Lawson said. “I didn’t see him because I was focused on the ball. I know I wasn’t grabbing or holding him, that’s what they called. We just gotta live with it.”
Caldwell also didn’t like the call.
“I didn’t think it was a pass interference, but what I think doesn’t really matter.”
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Lawson’s 66-yard penalty is the longest in at least 30 seasons.
Fourth down: The Packers also took advantage of a bizarre NFL rule that allows a kick returner to go out of bounds to field a kickoff, generating an illegal kickoff penalty and giving the offense the ball at the 40-yard line.
Green Bay return man Ty Montgomery actually laid down on the field with his toes on the sideline to draw the infraction after Sam Martin’s kickoff bounced inside the 5-yard line.
“It’s the straddle rule,” Caldwell said. “Usually you see people standing up and doing it. He did a nice job of laying out and doing it, which is pretty good on his part.
This isn’t the first time the Packers have taken advantage of this rule. Randall Cobb did it in 2012 as did Micah Hyde, last year.