Trailing 13-0 early and 22-13 in the final quarter, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers rallied to defeat the visiting Detroit Lions 23-22 on “Monday Night Football.”
With the win, the Packers, at 5-1, are all alone in first place in the NFC North division. The Lions, who had won four straight against the Packers before Monday night, fall to 2-2-1 and are in last place in the North.
WHY THE PACKERS WON
Stout red-zone defense, a more balanced offensive attack and Aaron Rodgers’ clutch plays were the difference. While Rodgers threw for nearly 200 yards in the second half alone (he finished with 283 yards on 24 of 39 passing), Jamaal Williams, who received heavy minutes after Aaron Jones fumbled and dropped a touchdown pass in the first half, rushed for 104 yards that included a 45-yard run that trimmed Green Bay’s deficit to 13-10 at halftime.
Despite playing without Devante Adams and losing Geronimo Allison during the game with a possible concussion, Rodgers completed passes to nine different players that included his 35-yard gem to Allen Lazard that got the Packers to within two points late in the game. Three completions to Lazard on the final drive helped set up Mason Crosby’s game-winning kick.
After allowing quarterback Matt Stafford to throw for over 200 yards in the first half, Green Bay’s defense allowed under 50 passing yards during the game’s final 30 minutes. Kenny Golladay, who had 105 receiving yards at halftime, caught just one pass during the second half. Green Bay’s defense, led by Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, held the Lions to just 56 yards rushing. The Packers’ defense also applied consistent pressure on Stafford, particularly on third down.
WHY THE LIONS LOST
The Lions were just 1-3 in the red zone, as Detroit failed to fully capitalize on its early scoring opportunities. A 66-yard completion from Stafford to Golladay on the game’s first play resulted in just three points. And while the Lions were able to parlay a 58-yard completion from Stafford to Marvin Hall into a Kerryon Johnson 1-yard scoring run on their next possession, they had to settle for a second field goal after recovering Aaron Jones’ fumble on Green Bay’s ensuing possession.
The Lions’ biggest squandered opportunity came after recovering Darrius Shepherd’s fumbled punt at the Packers’ 25 yard line five minutes into the third. Instead of a touchdown, Detroit had to settle for another field goal while taking a 16-13 lead. The Lions settled for yet another field goal after Justin Coleman returned his red zone pick of Rogers into Green Bay territory with just over 12 minutes remaining.
Two big penalties against Lions pass rusher Trey Flowers also proved to be critical to the outcome. Flowers’ first illegal hands to the face penalty against Green Bay lineman David Bakhtiari gave the Packers a first down that eventually led to Rogers’ touchdown pass to Lazard. Flowers’ second penalty, with the Lions out of timeouts and trying to get one last possession, gave the Packers a fresh set of downs while allowing them to drain what was left of the game clock before sending Crosby out for the game-winning kick.
Detroit’s lack of offensive balance, as stated above, also contributed to their lack of offensive success during the second half of Monday’s game.
While the Packers were gaining momentum, Flowers’ first fourth-quarter penalty changed the complexion of the game. After Rodgers was sacked by Kevin Strong for an 11-yard loss on third-and-10 from the Lions’ 45-yard line, the penalty gave Green Bay a first down on Detroit’s 40 with 9:54 left. Rodgers hit Lazard for the touchdown two plays later.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Rogers’ throw to Lazard was a thing of beauty. While Monday night’s game was anything but perfect, Rodgers made the clutch plays when it mattered while leading Green Bay to a come-from-behind victory. Rodgers recorded his 21st game-winning drive on Monday night and his sixth against the Lions.
“Totally didn’t feel like a win, until the end.” — Rodgers to ESPN just moments after Monday’s win, which saw the Packers lose the turnover battle, 0-3 while also going 1-4 in the red zone.
The Packers will host the surprising 3-2 Oakland Raiders this Sunday. Oakland, winners of two straight, are coming off a bye week after debating the Chicago Bears in London in Week 5.
The Lions will host the 4-2 Vikings in another matchup between NFC North division foes this Sunday at Ford Field.
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