The difference between the Detroit Lions’ Week 3, 24-12 loss at home to the Denver Broncos (their lowest home offensive output of the season) and tonight's against the Packers was expectations. That team the Lions fielded on Sep 27 was a dead-in-the-water offense with a banged up defense that had yet to develop any chemistry.
Coming into tonight, the Lions had won their last three games straight, holding their opponents to 14 points per game. That was during a three game winning streak, capping off with their offense materializing for a season high 45 points against the Philadelphia Eagles. Some NFL analysts were even predicting Detroit to win out in their remaining games against a much easier schedule than the start of the season to go 9-7 and a possible Wild Card berth.
The game started off with the offensive momentum the Lions had found against Chip Kelly’s defense and made those predictions seem possible. Detroit scored on their first three possessions straight to go up 17-0 in the first quarter.
Matt Prater continued his perfect season with a 51-yard field goal. That was followed up by Matthew Stafford slicing up the Packers secondary for an eight play, 76 yard drive that ended with a 3-yard TD to tight end Eric Ebron. Less than a minute later of game time, Lions’ Safety Glover Quin intercepted Aaron Rodgers. That INT setup a 17 yard touchdown from Matthew Stafford to “Megatron” Calvin Johnson, the single play of that drive.
After that, Detroit’s offense cooled off for the remainder of the night. The special teams play by Sam Martin consistently pinning Green Bay back inside their own 30-yard line and the defensive line kept them in control heading into halftime, 14-0.
Coming out of the locker room to start the second half, Detroit started off with possession of the ball. It did look like the Lions had found their offensive rhythm again with a 66 yard drive but that stalled out at the Packers 16-yard line. Prater kicked his second of three field goals on the day to make it 17-0. That’s when the game started to get weird.
The Packers scored on their next possession by virtue of Green Bay receiver Randall Cobb recovering a forward fumble (that bounded eight yards) by Packers’ runningback James Starks in Detroit’s end zone. That gave Green Bay their first TD of the day to bring them within 10 points.
Rogers then scored his first passing TD after a Stafford forced fumble gave them prime field position at the Lions 12-yard line. Lions’ energizer, Matt Prater responded with his third and final field goal of the day from 42 yards out to make it 23-14 Detroit.
Alas the Rogers of the Green Bay had other designs. First up was Aaron Rodgers scrambling on a 17 yards TD run to bring the Packers within two.
The Detroit did their best to try and salt away the remaining three minutes of the game. They almost succeeded, burning up 2 minutes and 41 seconds and trapping Green Bay at their 21-yard line with 23 seconds to go.
On 3rd-down, the Packers still at their 21-yard line with 6 seconds remaining on the game clock, Green Bay lateralled the ball three times with it ending up back in the hands of Aaron Rodgers as he was sacked by the Lions’ defensive end, #98 Devin Taylor. Time expired. However it was not meant to be.
Taylor was called for a facemasking penalty giving Aaron Rodgers and the Packers one more play in regulation, even with no time remaining.
A 61-yard Hail Mary was the only option as Aaron scrambled to his right. On the other end, Tight End Richard Rodgers answered his prayer, slowly backing into the end zone, similar to how a forward boxes out for a rebound in basketball, to snag the ball in front of the wall of flesh the DB’s and WR’s had created in the end zone. Final score Green Bay 27-23 over the Detroit Lions.
“Man I’m still in shock. I really don’t know how to feel about what just happened.” Lions’ WR Golden Tate uttered when asked about how he felt on the loss. “That’s crazy but it just shows that the game is not over until there are zero seconds on the clock and even sometimes then, it’s not over….We play a good game, just on play”.
When asked about the penalty post- game Devin Taylor said “I knew I grabbed his collarbone, shoulder pad. Whatever the ref saw, he called facemask. There’s nothing I could do about it. Just keep playing until the next down”.
Going down the board, leading Green Bay in receiving was the aforementioned Richard Rodgers, with 8 receptions for 146 yards and 1-TD, the game winner. For Detroit, Golden Tate had 8 catches for 63-yards and Theo Riddick had 5 receptions for 27 yards. Calvin Johnson and Eric Ebron had the Lions’ two TD’s of the game finishing with 44 yards and 9 yards respectively.
In the battling between the two quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers was 24/36 for 273 yards, 2 passing TDs, 1 INT along with leading Green bay in rushing on 4 carries for 27 yards and a rushing touchdown. Stafford was 23/35 for 2 TDs and 220 yards. Ameer Abdullah had the most rushing yards for Detroit. Abdullah on 13 carries had 67 yards.
The Detroit Lions (4-8) are on the road, facing the reeling 4-7 St.Louis Rams and the Green Bay Packers (8-4) host the hobbled 3-8 Dallas Cowboys next Sunday.