12-man on the field penalty proves costly in Lions' loss to Packers
A fourth-quarter penalty on DeAndre Levy helped extend the Packers' game-clinching touchdown drive
Aaron Rodgers caught the Detroit Lions napping, and it may have cost the Lions a chance to win the division for the first time in 23 years.
Rodgers drew a crucial 12-men-on-the-field penalty on the Lions on a third-and-10 play late in the fourth quarter of the Green Bay Packers' NFC North-clinching 31-24 victory Sunday.
Rodgers threw incomplete on the pass, and if not for the penalty the Packers would have punted the ball back to the Lions with just over 5 minutes to play and a six-point lead.
Instead, after the penalty was enforced, Rodgers completed a 9-yard pass to Ty Montgomery on third-and-5 to keep the drive alive. Five plays later, Rodgers hit Davante Adams for a 9-yard touchdown pass then found Adams again on the two-point conversion to put the game away.
While linebacker DeAndre Levy was penalized as the extra Lions player on the field, it's unclear what happened leading up to the penalty.
The Lions were in their nickel defense on second-and-10, and Levy was in on coverage near the Packers sideline.
The Lions sent on their dime defensive personnel on third down, and replays showed Levy running towards the sideline as Rodgers hustled his team to the line of scrimmage to snap the ball.
As a defense, the Lions did not appear set before the snap.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell did not address Levy by name, but said the Lions could have avoided the penalty.
"I haven't seen it in its totality, but I think that one was as much our fault as it was their preparation," Caldwell said. "I haven't looked at it to see it all. I have to see everything that happened in that situation from a vantage point. I think we could have certainly not had that happen to us in that situation."
Injury update: Nickel cornerback Asa Jackson suffered an ankle injury and did not return Sunday, leaving Don Carey and Crezdon Butler to finish the game in nickel packages for the Lions. ... Wide receiver Marvin Jones returned to play after going to the locker room to be checked for a brain injury. ... Caldwell declined comment on how right tackle Riley Reiff suffered his hip injury. Reiff was a Saturday addition to the Lions' injury report, and worked out before the game but was unable to go Sunday. ... Packers cornerback Quinten Rollins was taken to the hospital with a neck injury he suffered after hitting his head on the Ford Field turf on the second-to-last play of Sunday's third quarter. Rollins had movement in all of his extremities and Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he was communicating and "looked positive before he left the field."