The Packers held the Lions to just seven points on Sunday, the fewest allowed by a Green Bay team in Detroit since a 31-3 win over the Lions on Dec. 16, 1996, at the Pontiac Silverdome. It was the fourth time in the last seven games that the Packers have held their opponent to a touchdown or less.
With the seven points allowed, the Packers improved their defensive scoring average to 14.5 points per game this season, which leads the NFL. Green Bay also limited Detroit to just 286 yards of total offense, the first time the Lions posted less than 300 yards in a game since Week 3.
“We played well through 3½ quarters and unfortunately we gave them a little too much in the fourth quarter and they scored,” linebacker Clay Matthews said. “Overall I think we played well but just not well enough, especially this late in the season.”
With Green Bay’s offense registering just 68 total yards and two first downs in the first half, the defense did its part by shutting out the Lions and not giving up a third-down conversion on Detroit’s eight opportunities.
The first half included two takeaways by Green Bay, the first with the Lions deep in Packers’ territory on Detroit’s second possession of the game. On third-and-5 from the Green Bay 27, quarterback Drew Stanton avoided pressure, moved to his right, and lofted a pass into the end zone intended for wide receiver Bryant Johnson. But cornerback Tramon Wiliams made a leaping interception, his fifth of the season to match his career high.
The Lions quickly moved into Green Bay territory early in the second quarter, but Matthews posted a 19-yard sack of Stanton to push the Lions back to their own 38. Now facing a third-and-25, Stanton tried to force a deep pass down the right sideline to tight end Tony Scheffler, and Packers safety Charlie Peprah was there to post the first interception of his five-year career.
The only blemish for the defense came early in the fourth quarter when the Lions put together a 12-play, 80-yard drive that ate up six minutes and 37 seconds and was capped off with a 13-yard screen pass from Stanton to tight end Will Heller for what would end up being the game-winning touchdown.
“Games like this usually come down to a couple of plays like that,” linebacker A.J. Hawk said. “They completed a couple of big third downs to keep the drive going. We let them hang around, hang around, and they keep driving on us.
“You’ve got to give them credit. They made some plays and we just didn’t stop them when we needed to.”
Unfortunately it came on the play that he sustained a concussion on, but Aaron Rodgers’ 18-yard run in the second quarter put him over the 300-yard rushing mark for the year for the second straight season.
Rodgers now has 309 yards on 55 carries (5.6 avg.) with a team-high four touchdowns. By hitting that plateau, he became the first Packers quarterback since Tobin Rote (1954-56) to rush for over 300 yards in back-to-back seasons. Rodgers posted 316 yards on 58 carries (5.4 avg.) in 2009.
Sunday was Rodgers’ 10th game this season with a 10-yard run, and he has recorded at least one in 21 of his last 29 games.
Streak comes to an end
When wide receiver Greg Jennings dropped a deep pass from Rodgers down the middle and it went into the hands of cornerback Amari Spievey, it brought an end to Rodgers’ career-high streak for pass attempts without an interception.
It was the first time Rodgers had been picked off since his final throw of the first half against Minnesota in Week 7, a streak of 181 attempts without an interception. That ranks No. 2 in franchise annals behind only Bart Starr, who posted a 294-pass streak that spanned 1964-65. Starr’s streak ranks No. 2 in NFL history behind only Cleveland’s Bernie Kosar (308 in 1990-91).
Leading the way
Tight end Andrew Quarless paced the team on Sunday with 62 yards receiving on five receptions, both career highs.
It was the most receiving yards posted in a game by a Packers rookie tight end since Ron Kramer recorded 68 yards at Detroit on Nov. 27, 1958, and it was Quarless’ second 50-yard receiving day of the season (51 at Washington in Week 5).
The day wasn’t all positive though for Quarless, as he fumbled on Green Bay’s opening drive with the Packers on the move. Quarless took a short pass from Rodgers for 12 yards, but fumbled after taking a hit from linebacker Landon Johnson and Detroit took over at its own 28.
Booming the ball
Punter Tim Masthay certainly made the most of Green Bay’s final dome game of the season on Sunday with three cold-weather games left on the schedule.
Masthay became the first punter in franchise history to post a 50-yard average in a game with eight or more attempts. Masthay registered a 50.5-yard gross average on his eight punts, including four punts of 50-plus yards.
Masthay also placed three punts inside the 20, his second-best mark of the season behind his five in Week 8 at the N.Y. Jets.
Besides Rodgers’ concussion, the other injuries reported from the game were to guard Daryn Colledge and linebacker Frank Zombo, who both sustained knee injuries.
Colledge came out after the first offensive series, one that saw him make a tackle of Detroit cornerback Brandon McDonald on the return of Quarless’ fumble.
Colledge was replaced by Jason Spitz for the remainder of the first half, but when the Packers opened the second half on offense, it was second-year lineman T.J. Lang lining up at left guard. Lang remained there the rest of the game.
McCarthy said after the game that the decision to switch from Spitz to Lang was a performance-based one.