GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Jordy Nelson tossed the ball high into the air after catching his second touchdown pass of the day, a gesture that passes for a rare display of emotion for the workmanlike wide receiver.
The Green Bay Packers offense is having fun again heading into an early bye week.
Aaron Rodgers threw for 205 yards and four touchdowns, including two in the first half to Nelson, and the Packers built a big early lead before holding off the Detroit Lions for a 34-27 win Sunday.
“Coming into this week, we felt that as an offense that we just weren’t having enough fun. We wanted to bring some extra energy to the game,” Nelson said.
Rodgers was 15 of 24, leading the Packers (2-1) 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.”
Just like back in 2014, when the Rodgers-to-Nelson combination was one of the best passing game tandems in the NFL.
There is still a lot of work to do for the Packers to get back to that level of production. Still, this was the just kind of performance that the offense needed to shake off the struggles from the 17-14 loss in Week 2 to Minnesota.
“I’m one that usually doesn’t show too much emotion. I’d rather just the hand the ball in and continue on,” Nelson said. “But if that’s what it takes for guys to feel that energy . I mean, it does.”
The Packers led 31-10 at halftime before the Lions (1-2) 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 about 3 minutes left to effectively seal the win.
Jones had a career-high 205 yards on six receptions and two scores. He gave the Lions a boost going into halftime with a 73-yard touchdown catch , during which Jones 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.
TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE
The Lions almost pulled off another comeback after rallying to beat Indianapolis 39-35 in the season opener.
Matthew Stafford passed for 385 yards and three scores with one interception for the Lions, who had advantages in total yardage (418-324) and time of possession, holding the ball for 35 minutes.
“No question, there’s going to be good stuff we did and there’s going to be some negative stuff,” Stafford said. “I’m going to look as hard as anybody in the mirror and find out what I can do to be better to help our team win.”
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 loss to Minnesota. The Packers burned Detroit’s secondary with big plays to build a big lead, and Eddie Lacy ran for 103 yards on 17 carries.
“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.
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.
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.
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