The Detroit Lions snapped a road-loss string stretching back to the George H.W. Bush Administration at Lambeau Field on Sunday and came away with an improbable 18-16 win over the Green Bay Packers in Week Ten of the NFL. Packer kicker Mason Crosby missed a 52-yard field goal attempt with five seconds to play as a second consecutive attempted comeback failed at the end.
It was difficult to tell if Crosby just whiffed on the attempt or if there was a breakdown in the mechanics, but it barely cleared the line of scrimmage before wafting toward the not-yet frozen tundra, far short of the uprights. The victory improves the hapless Lions to a 2-7 record. The Pack slides to 6-3 and is now in second place in the NFC North Division, a game back of the Minnesota Vikings who bested the Oakland Raiders, 30-14.
It was a game that the Packers had no business even being in at the end. Last minute heroics by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, in what was another pedestrian performance, almost saved this dreadful day. But Matt Prater’s second missed point after attempt and Calvin (Megatron) Johnson’s failure to secure the ball on an onside kick gave Green Bay a second chance previously reserved for Lazarus.
Rodgers completed only 35 of his record 61 passing attempts for 333 yards and two touchdowns. He was missing receivers. His targets were dropping balls and spent the bulk of the day looking for pass interference flags that were not dropped. Davante Adams had a career high 10 grabs as he was targeted 21 times in this one. James Jones, whose return to the Green & Gold has saw him gather in six TDs in the first six games, has practically fallen off the radar.
The Packer ‘D’ has now gone three games without registering a sack of the opposing QB. They came close to getting to Matthew Stafford, but couldn’t seal the deal. The secondary did a better job against Stafford than it had against Peyton Manning and Cam Newton, but it wasn’t enough to win it with their play alone.
This heretofore high-octane offense of the Packers was anything but. The game started with an energy that started in the last nine minutes in Carolina. With James Starks getting the nod for a shelved Eddie Lacy, Green Bay moved the chains. They had to settle for a 44-yard Mason Crosby field goal and a 3-0 lead with 10:06 left in the opening stanza.
The rest of the half was a series of fits and starts with three-and-outs on both sides. Failure by the Pack to get any traction gave the Lions a chance to tie the game, which they did with a Matt Prater 49-yarder with 12 ticks left.
The Lions, who hadn’t won a game on Wisconsin soil since December of 1991, took the second half kickoff all the way to the one yard line. After a couple of nice defensive stops, Detroit QB Matthew Stafford found a slashing Brandon Pettigrew for a two-yard score. Prater missed the PAT wide left and it was 9-3 Lions with 13:33 left in the third quarter.
Rodgers and the offense continued to cough and wheeze. The ensuing drive, yet another three-and-out, lasted all of 45 seconds. A short punt by Tim Masthay gave Detroit the ball inside Packer territory, but the ‘D’ stiffened and the Packers were back in business. Unfortunately, business as usual has not been what fans have come to expect from this team during the A-Rod era. They managed to get a couple of first downs, but again had to cede possession of the pigskin.
Prater split the uprights from 51 yards out and the Lions appeared to be in the driver’s seat, up 12-3 with 13:10 left in the game. But A-Rod started to get into what passes for a rhythm these days and hit tight end Richard Rodgers from four yards out to make it 12-10 with 5:55 left.
Again, the Lions looked to put it away. And when Lance Moore grabbed a Stafford missive four yards out, it looked as if the Pack would need two scores with only 1:57 to play. Prater’s miss gave Green Bay a chance to tie. The next 85 seconds saw a Packer drive extended with catches by Jared Abbrederis and a roughing the passer penalty.
Rodgers hit tight end Justin Perillo from 11 yards out and cut it to 18-16. Adams failed to gather in the two-point conversion, setting up the onside kick and subsequent Crosby miss.
The frustration, evidenced by Rodgers’ slam-dunking a tablet last week, continued this day and seemed to permeate the entire sideline. There was grousing by the coaching staff and others. This is clearly a team in disarray.
The Pack goes on a short road trip to take on a second straight NFC North opponent when they head to Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, Nov. 22. Kickoff was flexed to 3:25 p.m., CST.