By: Will Burchfield
Ford Field was rocking on Sunday night, with over 66,000 fans crammed into the stadium to watch the Lions take on the Packers. The noise appeared to make things difficult at times for Green Bay’s offense, evidenced by four false start penalties.
But the Packers suggested otherwise.
“I think the defense was crossing the line of scrimmage, which made us move,” said left tackle David Bakhtiari.
“Some of us think they crossed the line of scrimmage on certain plays and that would trigger us to jump,” he added. “Not to discredit the crowd noise, it was extremely loud throughout most of the game.”
Right guard TJ Lang agreed.
“Honestly a couple of the false starts, we thought the defense had jumped across the line and we moved, reacted. Just close calls on that,” Lang said. “It is what it is.”
The Packers were hit with two false start penalties in the first half and two in the second. Two of the infractions were called on right tackle Bryan Bulaga, while left guard Lane Taylor and Bakhtiari were each flagged twice.
Often times, Green Bay’s offensive linemen ended up pointing at their counterparts in blue, as if to say it was the Lions who were guilty. Detroit’s defense was not called for offsides a single time.
“I think on two of ’em we felt like they jumped. It was just too close to call, they ended up calling it on us,” Lang said. “Just trying to get a free play there on hard counts. Couple of them we had miscommunications, guys thinking it was a different count than what it was.
“I mean, it was definitely loud. I’ve played eight games here now and that’s the loudest I’ve ever heard this stadium. So it was a good mix of that and a couple miscommunications.”
Asked if any Lions’ linemen in particular were jumping the snap, Bakhtiari said, “I think it was across the board, to be honest.”
The Packers prepared for the Ford Field crowd all week by blasting music during practice and walk-throughs. Part of their game plan was to try to eliminate, or at least subdue, the hometown fans.
“I think the biggest thing was we wanted to get out to a fast start, go down and score early, kind of get the crowd out of it,” Lang said. “I think our first three drives we kind of stalled out, didn’t score any points and they just kind of feed off that so it was definitely loud after that.
“But I think in the second half when we came out first series, scored in the third quarter, kept driving the ball, moving the ball well, I think you could hear it kind of quiet down. We had a little bit of momentum, it usually takes the fans out of the game.”
The Packers outscored the Lions 21-10 in the second half, 21-3 excluding a garbage-time touchdown. By the end of the game, it was the visiting fans who were making the most noise, with chants of “Go-Pack-Go!” ringing across the stadium.
As loud as the Lions’ fans were early on, Lang said the noise didn’t quite measure up to other places he’s played.
“I don’t think it was as consistently loud as some other stadiums. Seattle kind of sticks out, Minnesota was a loud one earlier this year, opening night at their new stadium.
“But yeah, their fans showed up…It was difficult. They definitely made it really tough on us as far as our adjustments and communication at the line.”
The announced crowd of 66,345 was about 1,500 shy of the Ford Field record. That was set in 2011, when 67,861 fans watched the Lions take down the Bears on Monday Night Football.