Slow starts continue to hinder Packers as they deal with injuries on offensive line


GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers once again put themselves in an early hole.

This time, they couldn’t quite dig their way out.

Jordan Love was sacked four times and the Packers gained just 21 yards in the first half of a 34-20 loss to the Detroit Lions on Thursday night. The brutal start came four nights after they beat the New Orleans Saints 18-17 only by scoring 18 unanswered points in the game’s final 11 minutes.

This marked the first time since 1990 that the Packers faced halftime deficits of at least 17 points in back-to-back weeks. They trailed 17-0 at halftime against the Saints and were down 27-3 at the break Thursday.

“We’ve got to find out what that is,” Love said. “And I think everybody just has to play better at the start of the game, me included. I’ve got to be able to come out and start fast and put points up so we’re not playing from behind and making it harder on the defense.”

Green Bay figured to have some growing pains in the first year of the post-Aaron Rodgers era as Love takes over for the departed four-time MVP. Love has shown plenty of moxie in orchestrating comeback attempts each of the past two games, but he can’t let the Packers continually get into these situations.

Love went 23 of 36 for 246 yards with a touchdown run and a touchdown pass, but he was also picked off twice. Love now faces the obstacle of having the man protecting his blind side out for the foreseeable future.

The Packers placed star left tackle David Bakhtiari on injured reserve Thursday afternoon, meaning he also will miss at least Green Bay’s next three games. Bakhtiari hasn’t played since Green Bay’s season-opening win at Chicago, and left guard Elgton Jenkins also missed a second straight game with a knee issue.

“I hate the situation Dave’s in and I feel for him,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “He’s been battling and battling and battling to try to make it back. … He’s tried everything. He wants to be out there. He wants to play ball. He’s tried anything and everything to make it back, and his knee’s not responding in the right way.”

Asked whether Bakhtiari would miss the rest of the season, LaFleur replied that “I’m not going to get into that.”

Bakhtiari’s absence was evident Thursday as the Lions dominated the line of scrimmage early on.

Love was sacked twice in the Packers’ first four snaps. The Packers were outgained 194-1 in the first quarter and 284-21 in the first half.

Green Bay didn’t get a first down until midway through the second quarter, and that came because of a Detroit penalty. AJ Dillon was thrown for a loss and Love got sacked on the Packers’ next two plays.

The Packers didn’t get a first down on their own merits until seven seconds remained in the second quarter.

“I don’t think anybody’s feeling sorry for us,” LaFleur said. “So, we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to look at what we’re asking our guys to do. Everything wasn’t good enough, so, the plan wasn’t good enough. That was humiliating, being down 27-3 or whatever it was at half.”

Green Bay couldn’t capitalize on the return of running back Aaron Jones and wide receiver Christian Watson from hamstring injuries. The Packers already trailed 24-3 by the time Jones got his first carry of the night. Watson had two catches for 25 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown.

The Packers’ offense finally came to life by scoring touchdowns on two of its first three second-half drives, but they couldn’t cut the deficit below 10 points.

Green Bay didn’t get much help from a defense that once again struggled to stop a rushing attack. Detroit’s David Montgomery ran for 121 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries as the Lions outrushed the Packers 211-27.

“Any time you go out there and you can’t effectively run the football and conversely can’t stop the run, that’s a recipe for losing football,” LaFleur said. “And that’s what happened tonight. And give Detroit credit. We knew they were a tough opponent, but they manhandled us, really in every phase.”

The Packers couldn’t chase down Montgomery

Now they may have to spend the rest of the season trying to chase down the Lions in the NFC North standings.