Packers 'terrible' early, Aaron Rodgers included, in loss at Lions

DETROIT -- Aaron Rodgers thought the Green Bay Packers were terrible -- his word -- on offense last week in a game they won easily.

A week later, that could apply to the rest of the team, too -- Rodgers included.

He lost a pair of fumbles on strip sacks and started slowly on a day when he was without two of his three starting receivers. The one starter he had, Davante Adams, was open from the Lions' 23 on the Packers' first possession yet Rodgers didn't throw to him, but it wasn't like he had open receivers left and right.

Yes, Rodgers had some late production -- three second-half touchdown passes -- and actually put up some impressive-looking numbers in Sunday's 31-23 loss: He threw for 442 yards, and the Packers totaled 521 yards for the game.

“It’s frustrating,” Rodgers said. “We’ve been kind of a one-half team: one good half and one not-so-good half. You know, I was a little off. I missed a couple I usually hit. If I hit Davante on that first drive he might score on a crossing route. They dropped him. Yeah. We missed some opportunities there. Definitely a disjointed game: not punting, putting up a lot of offense and not winning the game.”

But a first half that ended with the Packers in their biggest hole (24-0) in nearly a dozen years and his fumbles (his second and third of the season already) have to be dissected.

That starts with the horror show on special teams, which cost them at least 20 points.

Mason Crosby missed four field goals for the first time in his career -- three of them in the first half (the second-half miss came from 56 yards). Even his slump season of 2012 never featured anything like that. He also slammed a fourth-quarter PAT off the left upright and missed that. He is the first kicker to miss four field goals and an extra point in a game since Rolf Benirschke of the Chargers did it in 1980 (Crosby actually made a meaningless 41-yarder in the final seconds).

“This one hurts a bunch,” Crosby said. “Left a lot of points on the field for this team.”

That was only part of it for Ron Zook's special-teams units.

After a defensive stop on the Lions' opening possession, their punt hit Kevin King after return man Tramon Williams let it bounce. A replay review failed to provide enough evidence to overturn it; the Packers thought it grazed a Lions player first. Instead, Detroit got the ball at the Packers' 1-yard line, leading to a gimme touchdown. Combine that with 13 points Crosby left on the field, and that's 20 points on the special teams alone.

And that doesn't include the holding call on Josh Jones that wiped out Ty Montgomery's 64-yard return on the ensuing kickoff -- a drive that ended with Crosby's first miss -- wide left from 41 yards.

A roughing the kicker penalty on King followed. And the Crosby missed from 42 yards off the right upright and then wide right from 38.

This after Crosby missed only once -- an attempt at a game-winner from 52 yards in the tie against the Vikings -- in his first 11 field goals of the season.

It added up to the Packers' largest halftime deficit since Dec. 3, 2006, against the Jets, which meant it was the largest halftime deficit in Rodgers' career as a starter.

At least they had an excuse on offense. They were without two of their three starting receivers -- Randall Cobb (hamstring) and Geronimo Allison (concussion/hamstring) -- and the other, Adams, played despite a calf injury. Adams finished with nine catches for 140 yards and a touchdown, but he had just two of those catches in the first half.

As for Rodgers, his two lost fumbles marked just the third time in his career that's happened -- and the first time in nearly three years.

“I had a couple real bad ones,” Rodgers said of the fumbles. “I gave them 10. We missed field goals, obviously, and had a turnover on the 1-yard line. You put all that together and it’s a lot of points we gave them. Mine were important, you know? We held them to a field goal the one time and gave up a touchdown before the half in a two-minute drive. I’ve got to play better in the first half. Second half got into a groove. But myself and our offense have got to put together a full game one of these days.”

At 2-2-1, the Packers' season isn't over by any means. But the disturbing start to the season in which Rodgers suffered the left knee injury in the opener and then created a stir with his postgame comments a week ago that were viewed largely as a criticism of his longtime head coach, Mike McCarthy, it's at the very least a season teetering on the edge of disaster.