Detroit Lions fail to finish Green Bay Packers: Here's how they crumbled
GREEN BAY, Wis. – They settled for field goals instead of touchdowns, not once but five times. They argued a questionable call – or three – with officials. And then they watched Aaron Rodgers slowly, meticulously dice up their defense on a 6-minute, 46-second game-winning drive.
It was death by a thousand cuts, and when Mason Crosby kicked the winning 23-yard field goal as time expired, it cost the Lions first place in the NFC North.
Aaron Rodgers completed 24 of 39 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns and led the final drive as the Packers beat the Lions for the first time since 2016, 23-22, at Lambeau Field.
The Lions struck for a 66-yard pass on their first play from scrimmage and never trailed until the final buzzer, but couldn’t come up with a defensive stop when they needed it most.
[ Lions blow massive opportunity at Green Bay. Blame them. Blame the refs.]
Rodgers ran for a first down on second-and-8 early in the winning drive and the Packers benefitted from a questionable hands-to-the-face penalty on Trey Flowers – his second of the quarter – on a third-and-4 incompletion that allowed them to run the final 90-plus seconds off the clock.
After Crosby, the goat of the Packers’ loss to the Lions at Ford Field last year when he missed four field goals and an extra point, made the winning kick, he celebrated by doing a Lambeau Leap into the stands with the help of long snapper Hunter Bradley.
Matthew Stafford, who entered Monday needing 352 yards to become the fastest player in NFL history to reach 40,000 yards passing, completed 18 of 32 passes for 265 yards but couldn’t get the Lions into the end zone enough.
The Lions settled for a field goal on their opening drive, after that long opening pass play to Kenny Golladay, and drove inside the Packers’ 10-yard line twice more in their first three possession, only to come away with a 13-0 lead.
The Lions scored their only touchdown of the game on their second drive, which started with a 58-yard pass from Stafford to Marvin Hall, when Kerryon Johnson scored on a 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal.
Outside of that rush, they relied solely on Prater for their scoring and lost despite holding a 3-0 edge in takeaways.
Prater made field goals of 22, 26, 41, 51 and 55 yards for the Lions, who managed 56 yards rushing but got 121 yards receiving on five catches from Golladay.
Jamaal Williams carried 14 times for 104 yards for the Packers, who trailed 22-13 early in the fourth quarter.
Rodgers capped a seven-play, 79-yard drive with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Allen Lazard with 9:03 to play. The Packers converted two third downs on the drive, a third-and-10 on the first questionable illegal hands to the face penalty on Flowers, and a third-and-5 on the touchdown throw.
The Packers (5-1) lead the NFC North by one game over the Minnesota Vikings (4-2), who visit Ford Field on Sunday.
The Lions are 2-2-1.
Contact Dave Birkett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. Read more on the Detroit Lions and sign up for our Lions newsletter.