It has been 21 years since the Lions have boarded the plane home from Wisconsin with the feeling of victory. Entering Sunday night’s game between the Lions and Packers, Green Bay had dominated the last 20 meetings at home, winning all of them. The Packers extended that home winning streak over their bitter NFC North rivals with a come-from-behind 27-20 win.
Back in a Week 11 matchup, Detroit dominated Green Bay for most of the game, even holding a lead late into the fourth quarter, but squandered it away in the waning moments to Aaron Rodgers. Those same demons came back to haunt the Lions on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
We take a look back at what happened — and a look forward at what Sunday night’s result means for the Lions and Packers — in our game recap, sponsored by Prilosec OTC Wildberry (Read more about the Prilosec OTC Wildberry Sweepstakes at the bottom of this post.):
What Happened: The first half was controlled almost entirely by Detroit. In the first 30-minutes, Detroit had 12 more first downs than the Packers, 124 more yards and ran 25 more offensive plays. Yet, they went into the break up by just four points, with score standing at 14-10.
Matthew Stafford was almost flawless for the Lions in the first quarter-plus. He led two long scoring drives to open the game, the
first capped by a fantastic play-action bootleg to give him his fourth rushing TD of the year. On the following drive he moved the Lions into scoring position again and tossed a score to Tony Scheffler to make it 14-0.
But even though he was their best player early, he was also the reason they lost momentum.
The former University of Georgia signal-caller had two costly turnovers in the first half. The first came on a fumble, as the ball slipped out of his hands and Green Bay's Mike Daniels recovered it for a touchdown. The other was an interception when rookie wide receiver Kris Durham ran the wrong route. Both deflated the air in the Lions' tires and allowed the Packers to stay in the game, despite not doing much of anything offensively.
It was all downhill for the Lions once the second half started -- they scored just six points on two Jason Hanson field goals in the final two quarters. Meanwhile, the defense allowed TD scampers by Rodgers and Dujuan Harris of 27 and 14 yards, respectively, which accounted for 14 of the 17 points the Packers scored in the final two quarters.
Green Bay improved to 9-4 with the win, while the Lions fell to 4-9.
Player of the Game: It is hard to pick just one player, as there were no huge standout performances, but Randall Cobb put the Packers in prime position all night. With 102 yards receiving, he consistently worked his way open in space to create plays on his seven receptions. Add in 76 yards of kickoff return yardage and it is easy to see he was a big part of why the Packers won.
What it Means for Detroit: It is the third straight loss where the Lions have led by at least 10 points somewhere during the course of the contest. It ties the NFL record with seven other teams and shows what the Lions have to do the rest of the year: focus on learning how to finish.
What's Ahead for the Lions: At 4-9 there is no hope for the Lions to even remotely challenge for a playoff spot, and the dream of having back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in almost two decades is out the window.
That said, Sunday's game showed just how much hope there should be in Detroit. It is the second time this year the team has hung tough with the NFC North leader, and the Lions clearly have several pieces in piece. Now, the key is figuring out how to best use those pieces to put together wins on almost every Sunday.
The first place then may want to evaluate is the linebacker group. Surprisingly, it was the Packers' run game that killed the Lions Sunday night, with five different players combining for a total of 140 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Most of the breakdowns in run coverage were from the linebackers, a collection of players also blamed for the breakdown in coverage on the final play of last week's game against the Indianapolis Colts.
What It Mean for Green Bay: On the other side of the coin, the Packers are now flying high.
After what was perceived by many as a disastrous start to the season, Green Bay is sitting in sole possession of first place in the NFC North. On top of their impressive run (wins in seven of their last eight ballgames), the team is about to get healthier. With Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews and Jordy Nelson all sidelined with injuries, the Packers will actually get better heading into the stretch run.
What's Ahead for the Packers: The Packers final three games are on the road against the Chicago Bears, at home against the Tennessee Titans, and on the road against the Minnesota Vikings. With only a tie separating them from the San Francisco 49ers in the standings, Green Bay is going to be in the hunt for one of the NFC's coveted first-round playoff byes. With the team getting healthier too, there is a good chance they might just get one.
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