Making ’em wait
Since 2006, offensive play on which the Lions ran their first play in the red zone in games against the Packers.
|63||Oct. 6, 2013||W, 22-9|
|57||Dec. 12, 2010||L, 7-3|
|53||Nov. 24, 2011||W, 27-15|
|45||Dec. 17, 2006||W, 17-9|
|45||Oct. 18, 2009||W, 26-0|
|43||Sept. 24, 2006||W, 31-24|
Call it the pink zone.
On an afternoon when NFL officials tossed pink penalty flags in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it only makes sense that the red zone should sport a different name during October.
Color aside, the Lions made but one trip inside the Packers’ 20-yard line at Lambeau Field. Though they came away with a touchdown, it was too little, too late.
Green Bay’s defense played its stingiest game of the season in holding the Lions to 286 yards in a 22-9 win over its division rivals. The Packers were particularly tightfisted once Detroit crossed midfield.
Sunday was the 15th time coach Mike McCarthy’s Packers have played the Lions. In improving to 14-1, McCarthy can thank his defense.
Green Bay held the Lions to fewer than 300 yards for the first time since 2010. That the Packers didn’t have to contend with Detroit receivers Nate Burleson (arm) and Calvin Johnson (knee) certainly helped their cause.
Linebacker A.J. Hawk, with a team-leading nine combined tackles, led a defense that kept the Lions scoreless on 8-of-10 possessions. Detroit’s only points were posted near the end of each half.
As for the red zone, Matthew Stafford got his team there just once, and he was given a big assist from the Packers. With time winding down in the fourth quarter, Stafford connected with tight end Tony Scheffler for 19 yards to the Green Bay 26. Cornerback Jerron McMillian was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the play, giving Detroit a first down at the 13.
On the next play, Stafford tossed to receiver Kris Durham for a touchdown.
The TD, the final score of the game, was the only one run by Detroit in the red zone. It was the team’s 63rd of 64 offensive plays.
McCarthy’s team has held the Lions to a single play in the red zone once before. On Sept. 24, 2006, running back Kevin Jones scored from 5 yards out in a 31-24 loss that gave McCarthy his first victory as coach of the Packers.
Until Sunday, McCarthy’s team never had forced Detroit to wait so long to reach the red zone. Holding them out until their 57th offensive play had been the standard, that coming in a 7-3 loss to the Lions in 2010.
Mike Sherman’s Packers were the last to keep Detroit completely out of the red zone. On Oct. 17, 2004, the Lions never advanced beyond the Green Bay 28 in falling 38-10.
Stafford and the Lions crossed midfield five times. Once there, they picked up but two first downs, one on the touchdown to Durham.
Detroit ran 17 plays on Green Bay’s side of the field. Those snaps produced but 29 yards.
Aside from the TD to Durham and the pass to Scheffler to set it up, only one play beyond the 50 gained more than 7 yards for the Lions. Midway through the fourth quarter, Stafford passed 10 yards to tight end Brandon Pettigrew, but the drive ended on downs at the Green Bay 30.
The Packers registered three of their five sacks with Detroit on their side of the field. Linebackers Brad Jones (first quarter), Clay Matthews (third) and Nick Perry (fourth) each threw Stafford for a loss.
Detroit came up against four third downs and a fourth down in Packers’ territory. Green Bay held them to minus-9 yards on those five plays, with a 3-yard Stafford-to-Joique Bell pass being the only play to gain yards.