Lions' first-half observations: With plenty of time to throw, Goff delivers

Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News

Offense came to play

The Lions seem intent on using a variety of looks and schemes to keep the Green Bay defense guessing, and so far, it's worked. 

A 46-yard pass to Quintez Cephus on third-and-1 kept the Lions opening drive alive, and another throw to Cephus for a 5-yard touchdown reception were both thrown from a clean pocket with a ton of time to find his receiver. 

That became a theme as the first half rolled on, and so did the Lions' running game. D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams combined averaged 4.4 yards per carry in the first half, and got the appropriate yardage necessary in critical moments to help the Lions pick up 12 first downs to Green Bay's 11.

After shooting themselves in the foot with back-to-back penalties on their second drive, the Lions had no problem finding a groove on their third trip down the field. 

Lions quarterback Jared Goff looks for a receiver and finds Quintez Cephus for a long first down in the first quarter.

And hey, let's talk about Jared Goff: He looked really, really solid, opening the game 8-for-8 and finishing the first half 13-for-16 passing with 137 yards and two touchdowns.

But a lot of that had to do with how much time he had to throw. You know how when teams would break down the Lions over the last few years, and it would more or less break down to, 'You simply can't ask your corners to cover for that long?' Well, that's exactly the situation the Lions benefited from.

The Lions' offensive line was creating clean pockets for Goff all night long, with the greatest examples coming on the big Cephus receptions and two big completions to Hockenson: One over the top for a Lions touchdown, and another for 20 yards before the half. If Matthew Stafford is at home watching this game, he's probably sick over how much time Goff has had to throw.

Chipping away

The Lions' defense held their own in the first half, but Green Bay seems to have honed in on how to beat it: methodically.

Detroit is keeping safeties high to help out young corners Ifeatu Melifonwu — who got his first pass breakup of his career — and Amani Oruwariye, and prevent Aaron Rodgers from beating them deep, but it's opening up Green Bay's running game in a major way.

Aaron Jones has 49 yards on nine rushing attempts and 27 yards — with two touchdowns — on four receptions. The Packers have found success feeding Jones the rock, and hitting him underneath when nothing's available in the passing game.

The Lions defense has done a much better job of preventing the big play, but the Packers will test that in the second half as they continue to throw body blows and wait for the secondary to open up.

Bounce back

We got a glimpse at the Lions' new never say die attitude in last week's near-comeback against the 49ers, but the team's general boost in swagger was on full display early on in Monday's showdown at Lambeau.

The Lions won the toss and elected to receive, and made that look like a brilliant decision when it marched down the field fearlessly to take a 7-0 lead. After a long scoring drive by the Packers to tie the game at 7 and a mistake-riddled drive that saw Detroit punt after three penalties in the same set of downs, the Lions defensive lineman Nick Williams came up with a big-time sack of Rodgers on third down to get the ball back — and then the Lions took a 14-7 lead.

The season is early, but through six quarters, the Lions are looking like a team that believes they should be competitive in every game.