Dec 3, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates with teammates after defeating the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Green Bay won 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
The Detroit Lions for almost the entire 60 minutes of Thursday Night Football, exploding out to a quick 17-0 lead in the first quarter. Yet when the clock hit 0:00, the ball was in the hands of Packers tight end Richard Rodgers in the end zone. Green Bay 27, Detroit 23.
This is a crushing loss on so many levels. Just as in the opener in San Diego, the Lions looked like a Super Bowl contender in the first stanza. They dominated the Packers on both sides of the ball, looking crisp and well-coordinated.
And it slowly slipped away. The offense lost potency like a septuagenarian whose Viagra prescription ran out. The defense wore down and lost control of the middle of the field too often. Green Bay kept nibbling away after the Lions pushed the score to 20-0.
The comeback started with a nice, 7-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to answer Matt Prater’s field goal. How Green Bay scored the touchdown should have let Lions fans know bad things were about to unfold; Randall Cobb recovered a James Starks fumble in the end zone.
On Detroit’s very next play, Julius Peppers laid waste to Riley Reiff and stripped the ball from Matthew Stafford’s unaware hand. The Packers recovered and scored three plays later. All of the sudden the seemingly insurmountable lead was hanging by a thread…
…and that thread snapped. Here’s the knife in the back of every Lions fan:
That Hail Mary was set up by a questionable facemask call against Devin Taylor on what should have been Green Bay’s last gasp. Taylor did graze Aaron Rodgers’ facemask but grabbed only jersey. From the angle of the official making the call, I see why he threw the flag.
Detroit still had about a 99 percent chance to win. The Packers had the ball at their own 39. Their receivers have struggled all year to catch the ball. Detroit’s defensive backs only had to bat the ball away. Heck, Quandre Diggs had just done so expertly two plays earlier.
With the First Pick
There were three critical errors on the final play:
- A three man rush. Rodgers had plenty of time to wait for the receivers to get down the field and get a running start into his 60-plus-yard launch.
- No Calvin Johnson or other tall players inserted onto the field. They don’t need to cover, they just need to make sure the ball doesn’t get caught.
- Terrible execution, with all the Lions players aligning behind the Packers receivers in the end zone. Can’t break up a pass from that position.
And a night of raucous celebration and real promise turned into another bitter, humiliating version of Same Old Lions. Instead of finding a way to win, Detroit created a new and excruciating way to lose.
This one hurts. Even those who wanted the Lions to lose out for draft purposes have to hate the way this loss feels. That was a win. Until it was yet another loss.
Detroit is now 4-8, the Packers 8-4. The loss all but cements a last-place finish in the NFC North for the Lions, putting the kybosh on all those misguided playoff hopes.
There are some positives to take away from the game. Really. There are. But now is not the time for any moral victories or happy thoughts. This should have been a triumphant, gloat-worthy victory. Instead, Lions fans are crying the bitter tears of defeat once again.