GREEN BAY, Wis. — The timing is back for quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the rest of Green Bay’s offense.
The Packers’ pass defense might need a little work, though.
Rodgers threw for 205 yards and four touchdowns, including two in the first half to Jordy Nelson, and the Packers snapped out of their offensive funk before holding off the Detroit Lions for a 34-27 win Sunday.
Rodgers was 15 of 24, leading the Packers to touchdowns on their first three series. Nelson had 101 yards on six catches, returning to the form that made him one of the NFL’s best receivers before missing the 2015 season with a knee injury.
“Just got on the same page. Hitting Jordy for some big plays helps,” Rodgers said. “Jordy and I connected. Whenever we’re doing that, it kind of opens other things up for the offense.”
They moved the ball on the Lions’ short-handed defense with ease in the first half. The Packers (2-1) led 31-10 at halftime before the Lions slowly chipped away.
Marvin Jones’ 35-yard touchdown catch with 3:34 left got Detroit (1-2) within seven. But Rodgers had a critical 11-yard run on third-and-8 from the Packers 27 with 3:22 left to effectively seal the win.
Jones had a career-high 205 yards on six receptions. Matthew Stafford passed for 385 yards and three scores with one interception for the Lions, who held advantages in total yardage (418-324) and time of possession, holding the ball for 35 minutes.
But the Packers burned the secondary with big plays to build a big lead, and Eddie Lacy ran for 103 yards on 17 carries.
“Obviously it was a difficult situation. We put ourselves in that situation. On offense, we didn’t score enough points in the in the first half,” Stafford said. “I’m proud of the guys for fighting back.”
PACK IS BACK
So much for the fuss over the Packers’ struggling offense.
Coach Mike McCarthy and Rodgers heard questions about the out-of-sync passing game following the 17-14 loss last week to Minnesota.
Now the Packers head into an early bye week with renewed confidence after a successful opener at Lambeau Field.
“Offensively the focus was to be a good, healthy mix of run and pass, so we accomplished that today,” McCarthy said.
The Lions gained chunks of yardage in the second half after being forced to play catch-up following Green Bay’s big early lead. The Packers’ defense was also missing four starters, including linebacker Clay Matthews.
Stafford found holes over the middle of the field. He connected with Jones for a 23-yard completion on the first play from scrimmage in the second half to the Detroit 46.
The Packers allowed Detroit to convert on eight of 14 third-down tries, a problem that McCarthy planned to focus on during the bye week.
But Green Bay’s staunch run defense had another big day, albeit against a Lions offense playing without injured tailback Ameer Abdullah. Detroit managed just 50 yards on 23 carries, with a team-high 38 yards on 10 carries by Dwayne Washington.
The Packers also played without nose tackle Letroy Guion, safety Morgan Burnett and defensive lineman-linebacker Datone Jones, who were all out with injuries.
Jones gave the Lions a boost going into halftime with a 73-yard touchdown pass from Stafford to get Detroit within 31-10. He stiff-armed cornerback Josh Hawkins before sprinting untouched 45 yards into the end zone.
“I feel like what we did in the second half was to be commended, but obviously we didn’t get it done,” Jones said. “The first half, we didn’t play up to our standards and we came back and we fought, but we ran out of time and it wasn’t enough.”
WORKING THE MIDDLE
The Packers’ offense accomplished two of McCarthy’s bigger goals for this week: Receivers worked the middle of the field, and Lacy got more carries in the running game.
Nelson was lined up in the slot on his 8-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, when Rodgers pump-faked, then stepped up in the pocket to find Nelson.
Lacy looked rejuvenated as he bounced off defenders for a 23-yard run in the second quarter.
Lions: S Tavon Wilson left in the first quarter with a neck injury. It was another blow for a defense already without lineman Ezekiel Ansah and linebacker DeAndre Levy.
Packers: TE Jared Cook went to the locker room with a right ankle injury after getting tangled up with a defender at 11:35 of the second quarter. … FB Aaron Ripkowski did not return after going to the locker room near the end of the second quarter with a back injury.