The Green Bay Packers are back in the hunt for the NFL Playoffs after a 29-22 win over the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving. At 5-6, most of the Packers’ struggles this season have been on offense, the result of having a new starting quarterback in Jordan Love and the cheapest and most inexperienced wide receiver group in the NFL. All season long, the defense has surprisingly been consistently reliable (albeit frustrating at times).
One may be surprised to realize that the Packers’ defense has not allowed an opponent to score 24 points in a game since October 29. In fact, they have allowed opponents to score at least 24 points just three times this season. Their 20.4 points per game allowed this season ranks ninth in the NFL.
Of course, the defense has its own flaws, and one of the most glaring ones going into Thanksgiving was the lack of healthy starters. Jaire Alexander, Darnell Savage, Rudy Ford, and De’Vondre Campbell were all out due to injury.
The Packers defense needed an extra spark going into their matchup with the Lions, and they found it in a fake quote that went viral on social media.
The Green Bay Packers Defense Used a Fake Quote to Inspire Their Performance vs the Detroit Lions
In the days leading up to the game, the following quote attributed to Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown circulated around social media:
Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown on playing the packers on Thanksgiving:
“I’m gonna be honest, I can’t name a single player on that defense.” pic.twitter.com/J5baGxAUAV
— MSU 🔝🔛 (@Wafzes) November 21, 2023
The problem with the quote, though, is that St. Brown never said that.
The fact that it was a fake quote didn’t stop the Packers defense from taking it personally, though. According to Kassidy Hill, after the game, defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery was heard saying to Jordan Love, “ask 14 if he knows anybody’s name on the defense now.”
Regardless of the fake quote, Green Bay’s defense knew what the message was: without many of their starters, they were a rag-tag group of backups who could not hang with the Lions. They certainly proved them wrong.
Rashan Gary registered three sacks, Jonathan Owens took a fumble back for a touchdown, and the defensive line practically lived in the backfield for most of the game.
The Green Bay Packers Highest-Graded Defenders on PFF vs the Detroit Lions
According to PFF, the top-five highest graded players on the Packers’ defense against the Lions were:
- Rashan Gary: 91.9
- Karl Brooks: 91.5
- Jonathan Owens: 71.3
- Kingsley Enagbare: 71.2
- Kenny Clark: 71.1
Gary, Brooks, Enagbare, and Clark combined for an astounding 21 pressures, with Gary registering those three sacks. Owens led the team 12 total tackles and only gave up 16 receiving yards on four targets (three receptions).
It is also noteworthy that rookie seventh round pick Carrington Valentine finished the day with the second-highest pass coverage grade on the team (69.1).
In other words, the Packers’ group of young players, many of whom starter the year as backups, were ready for the challenge on Thanksgiving.
Hopefully they are up for another one when Kansas City travels to Green Bay on Sunday night.