Thu, 29 Oct 2020

O'HARA'S FINAL THOUGHTS: Peterson off and running

Detroit Lions
21 Sep 2020, 20:25 GMT+10

Mike OHara

Lions at Packers Final Thoughts: Adrian Peterson off and running, Matthew Stafford's instant focus and Random Thoughts - keys on offense and defense, Lambeau mystique and my pick:

Two weeks of practice, with the first regular-season game sandwiched in the middle, has shown the Detroit Lions that the 2020 model of Adrian Peterson can still run at a high level.

Peterson rushed for 93 yards on 14 carries against the Bears in his first game as a Lion. What he did on the practice field in the week leading up to today's road game against the Packers showed his commitment to the game.

Peterson already has made an impression on teammates and the coaching staff with his approach to the game.

"It's amazing to watch him practice," said head coach Matt Patricia. "Very impressed with the way he approaches every single play. He takes a handoff in practice, and he runs, it's like it is in a game. He's going to run. He's going to go until he gets in the end zone.

"He doesn't stop. It's all full speed. I just love it."

Patricia mentioned how Peterson reacted after getting knocked down on a practice play.

"He got up and finished the run," Patricia said. "That sort of mentality and mindset, how he practices - it carries over to the game. It's impressive for the young guys to see. It's pretty amazing.

"There's definitely the speed and power and vision - explosiveness through the line of scrimmage, his physicality and running style is still at a very high level."

Tyrell Crosby, a third-year offensive lineman who started the opener, was impressed with Peterson's presence and his ability.

"To actually get to block for him in a game, watching him run over people - it was awesome," Crosby said.

"You can even just look at him and just know and have a feeling that if you give him the rock, he's going to run over whoever's in front of him, or do his best to.

"It's awesome to have him in that huddle."

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Stafford, focus: He went right back to work, as he always does, after the interception last week that put the Bears in position to score what stood up as the winning touchdown.

The pick had no effect on him in directing the final drive, and it won't linger in today's game against the Packers.

"No ... not on my mind," Stafford said when asked about the ability to put plays behind him that he has shown throughout his career.

"Obviously, I can't let it happen. I've been playing this game for a long time. I get the ball in my hands late in the game, I know my guys trust me. I've got to make good decisions with it.

"Not try to do too much. Just keep it going. I knew it would be a crunch-time moment where we needed to drive down and give ourselves a chance.

"We did that, but just didn't come away with it."

Random Thoughts:

Key matchup - defense: Two-time Pro Bowl receiver Davante Adams will be a tough test for the Lions' young cornerbacks - rookie Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye, whose stock is rising in his second season.

Adams had 14 catches on 17 targets for 156 yards and two TDs in last week's win over the Vikings.

"He's got a tremendous skill set," said Lions head coach Matt Patricia. "And along with just an absolute, 100-percent being on the same page with the quarterback.

"Any young corner, when they're playing great receivers, first and foremost is making sure you trust your technique and not go outside the things that you've been practicing - the things that you know you do well."

Key matchup, offense: The Smith Brothers - Za'Darius and Preston - are unrelated but meet often at the quarterback. Keeping them off Stafford is a key. The Vikings put up 24 points - three TDs and three two-point conversions - in the fourth quarter of last week's 43-34 loss to the Packers.

Rookie reprieve: D'Andre Swift's dropped pass was out in the open for all to see, but what should also be remembered from the opener was that he caught a pass earlier in the final possession. It showed the coaching staff's faith in the rookie running back to have him on the field in crunch time.

Snap decision: Interested today to see how snaps are divided at running back between Swift and Kerryon Johnson in relief of Peterson. Last week Swift got 34 of the 78 offensive snaps. Peterson got 24 and Johnson 20.

Lambeau mystique: It doesn't exist except in the record book. It was broken by the Lions' win at Lambeau in 2015, their first road win over the Packers since 1991. The Lions are 7-6 vs. the Packers since Thanksgiving Day of 2013, and 3-2 in the last five games at Lambeau.

My pick: You can't call what the Packers' defense did in the fourth quarter last week a collapse because they came away with a solid 43-34 win. But they did give up 24 points - three TDs and three two-point conversions - in a span of about 12 minutes. That's not good defensive football. What Rodgers did on offense was great football, and the Packers rightfully believe that their leader is in top form. That's the Packers' edge.

I expect a bounce back by the Lions in their performance, but it's hard to have faith in the defense. The Packers should win a close one.

Pick: Packers 27, Lions 24.

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