On a chill, slick Sunday evening at Lambeau Field, the Green Bay Packers squared off against the Detroit Lions for a faceoff for the top of the NFC North, and thanks to Mason Crosby’s leg, and a couple of questionable calls, the Packers would wind up on top 23-22.
While not the prettiest performances by either team, with drops and turnovers plaguing the Packers woefully understaffed receiving corps, and the Lions continually failing to capitalize on great field position and their larger gains.
The Lions got off to a quick start early. Knowing they needed to gain the momentum and shut down Lambeau’s crowd quickly, they started the game with some trickery. Lions Quarterback, Matthew Stafford, threw a deep flea flicker pass to receiver Kenny Golladay to start the game off with a big 66-yard gain, before stalling and kicking a field goal.
The Packers went three and out, and the Lions took advantage of the momentum. Stafford completed another deep pass to Marvin Hall, setting up the Lions in the red zone once again, this time they capitalized with a touchdown run from Kerryon Johnson.
Once the Packers had the ball back they began to drive their way down the field nearing the end of the first quarter, but an Aaron Jones fumble killed the drive and allowed the Lions to capitalize on great field position with another field goal early in the second quarter to put the Lions up 13-0, the second of five on the day by Matt Prater. However, this is where the majority of the Lions offense would fall off, as Stafford and the rest of the Lions offense would only manage 69 yards of offense over the next two and a half quarters.
The Packers would finally get on the board with a strong 60 yard drive ending in a five yard toss from Aaron Rodgers to Jamaal Williams, the two main cogs of the Packers offense over the whole game.
That would be the end of the excitement for awhile though, as the game became a battle of field goals, as Lions kicker Matt Prater and Packers kicker Mason Crosby combined for the next 15 points.
This was great news for the Packers, as the Lions offense blew great chances in the third quarter after a muffed punt and interception return had given the Lions great field position at the Green Bay 25 and 43 which had both only resulted in field goals. When this was paired with the fact that the Packers had lost both of their top targets for the night, receivers Geronimo Allison (Concussion Protocol) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Leg- would return), it was amazing the score was still 13-22 near the end of the end of the third quarter.
After failing to capitalize through most of the third quarter, the Packers would take a drive early in the fourth quarter all the way down the field. The drive started strong with a nice run from Aaron Jones and big pass to Tight end Mercedes Lewis, but the Packers began to stall around midfield. However, the Packers would benefit after the Lions were called for their first of two controversial hands to the face penalties giving the Packers a fresh set of downs at the Lions 40. Three plays later, Rodgers made the Lions pay with a 35 yard pass to former practice squad wide receiver and great preseason story, Allen Lazard.
It was one of the best throws of the season from Rodgers, and set up an exciting finish with the score now 20-22 Lions halfway through the fourth quarter.
The Packers defense continued to look strong as they held the Lions to one first down and forced them to punt yet again, giving Rodgers 6 and a half minutes to do what he does best: lead a comeback at home.
The drive started off strong with a large amount of pass plays mixed in with a few runs allowing the Pack to drive down to the Detroit 22 and drain the clock all the way down past the two minute warning without even facing a third down. As the Packers continued to try and drain the clock, the Lions used their last timeouts trying to guarantee a minute long drive for their own comeback hero Matt Stafford as they finally got Green Bay to third down with a minute forty-five left in the game. This is where the true controversy sparked.
On a key play, the Lions coverage forced Aaron Rodgers to hold the ball and throw it away before Trey Flowers was called for his second controversial hands to the face penalty, giving the Packers a fresh set of downs, all but guaranteeing that Mason Crosby would have a chip shot field goal to try and seal the deal with just seconds to go after the Packers would run off the remaining minute on the clock.
Crosby would get that chance 3 plays later, and with that chance came the possibility of erasing the memories of last years Packers Lions game where Crosby cost the team the game with four misses. Luckily for Crosby and the rest of the Packers team and fan base, he put any fears of another letdown behind him with a clean 24 yard field goal to walk it off at Lambeau Field.
With the win the Packers secured the division lead at 5-1 while the Lions dropped all the way down to the bottom of the division with a 2-2-1 record.
Next week the Packers look to continue their win streak as they host the 3-2 Oakland Raiders next Sunday, while the Detroit Lions host the 4-2 Minnesota Vikings looking to bounce back from two straight losses.