By Eric Goska
|A view of Lambeau Field|
roughly an hour-and-half before Green Bay hosted Detroit on Sunday.
The final Sunday of Summer 2020 in Green Bay provided a beautiful morning for a bike ride.
The afternoon proved equally as accommodating for football.
The Green Bay Packers kicked off the second half of this memorable day by crushing the Detroit Lions 42-21 at Lambeau Field. Just over an hour before Mason Crosby toed the ball to start the contest, this author had to outrace a speedy, tenacious dog in order to get home to watch the game on television.
Green Bay’s offense picked up where it left off in Minnesota. So potent against the Vikings, the unit continued to excel against the Lions.
After amassing 522 yards in the opener, Aaron Rodgers and his teammates followed up with 488 yards at the expense of Detroit. In doing so, the Packers became just the sixth team in NFL history to exceed 1,000 yards in their opening two games of a season according to Pro Football Reference.
Eager to see how Lambeau Field would look on a game day without fans in the stands, I pedaled west on a nearly traffic-free Mason Street across the Fox River. I ducked under Ashland Avenue via 5th Avenue and, after a number of twists and turns, crossed Lombardi Avenue.
Just a smattering of folks had gathered at Stadium View Bar, Grill & Banquet. Turning right onto Armed Forces Drive, I came upon a completely-empty Bart Starr Plaza.
Though the stadium parking lot off Oneida Street was not entirely deserted, it lacked the noise and energy of a typical football-filled Sunday. No one posed in front of the bronze statues of Vince Lombardi and Curly Lambeau.
Even the party houses were mostly silent.
Side streets that were usually parked with cars from one end to the other, boasted long stretches of open space. Thirty-two could be found along both sides of Shadow Lane from Frank Street all the way to Gross Avenue. Half that many dotted Kenwood Street. And one, just one lone vehicle, was parked along Thorndale Street.
This was a game-day scene unlike any other in Titletown.
Nearly 70 years ago, the Los Angeles Rams (1,034 yards) became the first team to surpass 1,000 yards in their first two games. Four others followed: 1991 Bills (1,119), 1998 49ers (1,061), 2011 Patriots (1,126) and 2019 Ravens (1,083).
The Packers made it a six-pack with their showings against Minnesota and Detroit. The team has generated 1,010 yards in starting 2-0.
Their previous best to start a season was 965 in 2013
A good chunk of what they have put up has come on the ground. In two games, Green Bay has ripped off 417 yards rushing including 259 against the Lions.
Only once before – in 1947 (480) – did the club start off with more soil yards.
Aaron Jones led the charge Sunday. He peeled off 168 on 18 carries and scored twice on the ground. His 75-yard dash to pay dirt in the third quarter put Green Bay up 24-14.
By gaining 107 yards in that period alone, Jones became just the fourth Packer player to surpass 100 in a third quarter. He joined Howie Ferguson (109), Andy Uram (108) and Ahman Green (107) in that regard.
Pick an offensive statistic. There is a good chance Green Bay is off to its best or one of its best starts in whatever metric you choose.
- First downs: 1st with 57 (51 in 2013)
- Yards per rushing play: 1st at 6.22 (5.81 in 1955)
- Points: 2nd with 85 (88 in 1945)
Boding well also is the fact that the Packers have scored on 13 of their 20 offensive possessions. Time does not permit a look back to see where that ranks in team history, but it stands to reason that any outfit that can score on nearly two-thirds of its drives is a team to be reckoned with.
As welcome as the early Green and Gold fireworks might be, two games, of course, does not a season make. But being undefeated is preferable to the alternative: getting chased down and mauled by a dog along 12th Avenue.
Oh, How Grand!
Teams that amassed 1,000 or more yards in the first two games of a season.
Yards Rush Pass Team Year Sacks TOs
1,126 200 926 Patriots 2011 3 1
1,119 379 740 Bills 1991 2 5
1,083 447 636 Ravens 2019 3 0
1,061 417 644 49ers 1998 4 1
1,034 269 765 Rams 1951 2 9
1,010 417 593 Packers 2020 1 0