With both teams clinching a playoff berth, Sunday nights division battle between the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers was all about home-field advantage going into the post-season, which the Packers claimed in the 31-17 win in Detroit.
The Packers would score first with a seven-yard pass from quarterback Aaron Rodgers to fullback Aaron Ripkowski, putting the Packers up 7-0 in the second quarter.
Matthew Stafford and company would return the ball down the field to even the score after a one-yard touchdown from running back Zach Zenner. Stafford, playing with a splint on his injured finger, made the key play during that drive with a 35-yard pass to T.J. Jones on 3rd and 15.
With 26 seconds in the first half, the Lions would go up a touchdown after a three-yard catch by Golden Tate. Rodgers would get the offense into field goal range for Mason Crosby to kick a 53-yard field goal to finish the half with Detroit leading 14-10.
To start the second half, Rodgers took the ball 81 yards down the field that included a shotgun pass to Jordy Nelson for 16 yards and ended with a three-yard touchdown by Davante Adams, putting the Packers up 17-14.
The Packers faced a depleted secondary unit at the end of the third quarter as cornerback Quinten Rollins was carted off the field and taken to a nearby hospital with a neck injury. He did not return. Cornerbacks Makinton Dorleant and Damarious Randall were both listed as questionable with knee injuries.
In the fourth quarter, Rodgers threw a bullet into tight man-to-man coverage for the 10-yard touchdown to Geronimo Allison. Crosby would miss the extra point as the Packers would lead 23-14. To seal the deal, Rodgers through his fourth touchdown of the night to Adams, followed by the two-point conversion also by Adams. Though Stafford threw a Hail Mary to Anquan Bouldin, the Packers would win 31-24
Rodgers, who has posted MVP numbers ever since he said the Packers would ‘run the table’ after their 42-24 loss against the Washington Redskins, had another good day, finishing 27 of 39 for 300 yards and four touchdowns. The two-time MVP once again used his legs to make plays, gaining 61 yards on the ground.
Rodgers finished the regular season with 4,128 yards and 40 touchdowns, passing Matt Ryan for most touchdowns in the league.
Stafford finished 26 of 41 with 347 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
With running back Theo Riddick out with a wrist injury, Zach Zenner was the leading rusher on Sunday night. He finished with 20 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown. He also made four receptions for 41 yards.
Fullback Aaron Ripkowski led the Packers run game with nine carries for 61 yards.
In the air, wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who leads the NFL with 14 touchdowns, made six receptions for 66 yards including a few key first downs. He finishes the regular season with 1,257 yards.
The Detroit Lions will return to the playoffs, their last appearance in 2014 with a wild card spot. The Lions last division title was in the 1993.
The Green Bay Packers continue their playoff streak with eight-consecutive appearances, including a Super Bowl title, since 2009. After losing their four-time consecutive division title stronghold to Minnesota last season, the Packers clinched another NFC North title, earning them the 4th seed in the NFC playoff standings.
With the win, the Packers earn home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs, with the New York Giants traveling to Lambeau Field next week. The Lions will go to CenturyLink Field to take on the 3rd seeded Seattle Seahawks next Saturday.