Aaron Rodgers’ streak of 35 straight games throwing a touchdown pass at Lambeau Field ended Sunday night, but the Green Bay Packers quarterback doesn’t care.
Rodgers used his feet more than his right arm to help beat the Detroit Lions 27-20 as the Packers took over sole possession of first place in the NFC North Division.
It was a postcard perfect December game at Lambeau, with snow falling and a winter chill in the air.
So it was fitting that the Packers, who overcame a 14-0 first-half deficit, finished off the Lions with a fourth-quarter touchdown drive that consisted of seven consecutive runs and not a single Rodgers pass.
Deadlocked in a 17-17 tie early in the fourth quarter, the Packers pounded the ball on the ground when they needed it most and put away the pesky Lions.
It was some fancy footwork by Rodgers that put the Packers ahead for the first time early in the third quarter. Rodgers normally passes the Packers out of trouble, but this time around he used his scrambling ability to gash the Lions.
On third-and-4 from the Lions’ 27, Rodgers danced out of a crowded pocket, bounced outside and took off on the longest touchdown run of his career, and the Packers’ longest scoring run of the season.
“The run was fun,” Rodgers said. “A little embarrassed about the (Lambeau) Leap. I was pretty tired. It took me most of the next possession when we were on defense to catch my breath.”
Once Rodgers got outside the pocket, he was never touched and was off to the races.
“Impressive,” said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. “I thought Aaron made a number of big plays with his feet, managing the game.”
“For him to score from that distance I think speaks volumes about his athletic ability. He’s our guy, he’s our ace, and he played well again tonight.”
Rodgers didn’t have to put up gaudy passing numbers to impress McCarthy. Rodgers passed for just 173 yards and his quarterback rating was a modest 80.7.
But he didn’t throw any interceptions, and he kept the Packers in striking distance, even when the Lions jumped to an early lead.
“We’d love to be a more explosive offense at this point in the season but we have to get healthy in some areas and we’re going to have to win some games like this,” Rodgers said.
The Lions dominated the statistics in the first half with a major advantage in first downs (16-4) and total yards (218 to 94) and rushing yards (117 to 42). The Lions weren’t forced to punt until late in the third quarter.
Early on, no one would have guessed the Lions were a dome team. It might just as well have been 70 degrees and a climate-controlled environment as far as they were concerned.
The Packers, meanwhile, looked out of sync, as if they wanted to go indoors and warm themselves up. The Packers’ high-powered passing attack was virtually grounded, with Rodgers completing just five passes in eight attempts for 61 yards in the first half.
Yet the Packers scratched and clawed their way into the game.
In the end, the Packers won their 22nd straight game against the Lions at home, a streak Rodgers wanted to keep alive.
“When it was 14-0, I was thinking this would be the waste of a beautiful day to end that streak, playing in the snow with that crowd,” Rodgers said.