Lions Fall in NFC North Finale, Playing Seattle in Wildcard
By Matt Urben
Late TD not enough as Lions fall 31-24 to Packers in NFC North finale.
The (9-7) Lions lost their season finale for the NFC North title to the(10-6) Green Bay Packers and will take on the Seattle Seahawks on the road in the 1st round of the Playoffs. They weren’t able to win what would have been their first division crown since 1993. Matthew Stafford connected with Anquan Boldin in the final seconds, but it wouldn’t be enough as Aaron Rodgers’ previous 4 TD passes had already sealed the game. The Lions lost but had already wrapped up a Playoff spot thanks to the Redskins losing to the Giants. Detroit will now take on the Seahawks this Saturday at 8:15. Read my notes from the game below. And Happy New Year from SideLion Report!
The Lions got the ball to start the game and handed it off to Zach Zenner for 6 yards on their first play. Two straight incomplete passes forced a punt from Sam Martin. The Packers took over and after converting one first down, Lions safety Tavon Wilson blitzed up the gut and sacked QB Aaron Rodgers. A bad throw on third was incomplete and the Packers punted. Eric Ebron caught a quick out and turned it upfield for a first down.
Matthew overshot Golden Tate on a deep ball down the right sideline that would have probably been a TD. Lions punt it back to Green Bay. Aaron Ripkowski ripped off a big run to get near midfield. The Packers were called for a false start and three straight incompletions led to a Packers punt.
Zach Zenner ran out of the shotgun for a 15-yard gain and a first down. After a 9-yard pass to Marvin Jones, Zenner was able to convert to get to the 40. A play-action shot over the middle to Golden Tate was caught for 17-yard gain. Stafford stood in there tough against Julius Peppers, taking a big shot as he fired it for a first-down to Jones. The drive stalled in field goal range after a ticky-tack offensive pass interference call on Tate.
End of 1st: Detroit-0, Green Bay-0.
Matt Prater missed a 39-yarder to start the second quarter. Green Bay took over around their own 29. Another incomplete pass started the drive for Rodgers and the Packers. A false start on 3rd backed them up (CROWD NOISE) to make it 3rd & 7, before Rodgers snuck out and found Jared Cook for a first down. Rodgers finished off a 8 play 71-yard drive with a short TD pass to Ripkowski. Green Bay goes up 7-0, with about 11 minutes left in the half.
Stafford found Zenner for a first down to start the drive. After a sack made it third and long, Stafford found T.J. Jones for a deep strike down the right sideline. A direct snap to Tate was taken for seven. Zenner had another good run, hitting the 50-yard mark on his first down scamper. The Lions caught Green Bay offsides. Stafford hit Ebron — who lined up out wide — on a quick slant for a 1st down. Zenner finished the drive with a TD run up the gut. 7-7, after the beautifully executed run on the goal line.
The Packers took over with five minutes left in the second quarter. A penalty brought back a big play by Green Bay. A hold on the next play took back a short Rodgers scramble. The Lions brought nice pressure up front on Rodgers and a short throw was stopped shy of the first, forcing a punt. The Lions took over with two and a half minutes left in the half. Anquan Boldin caught a pass, then ran upfield getting out of bounds past midfield. The Lions ran a well-executed screen pass to Zenner for about 15 yards. Boldin caught it for a big gain close to the end zone. Then, Stafford found Tate for a little slant TD pass over the middle. 14-7 Detroit, with 30 seconds left.
Rodgers came out firing and hit Geronimo Allison for a big gain past midfield. Then he hit Cook, to got Green Bay into field-goal range. With three seconds left, they brought out Mason Crosby for a 53-yard field goal to close out the first half. He drilled it.
Halftime: Detroit-14, Green Bay-10.
The Packers came out with the ball. Rodgers found DaVante Adams, who converted their first set of downs. Rodgers easily moved the Packers past midfield with a scramble for a first down. Jordy Nelson had a big catch and Adams finished it with a short touchdown. Green Bay went 75 yards on ten plays in five and a half minutes. Packers go up 17-14.
Detroit went back on offense with about nine minutes left in the third. Zenner took what looked like a Stafford audible into a short pass and got a first down. The Lions stalled out, though, and were forced to punt from their own 40. Martin booted it to the opposing 15. Green Bay took over. The Lions played tough defense and got in Rodgers face enough to force a quick punt, with two minutes left in the quarter.
Stafford fired a rainbow deep over the right sideline to Marvin Jones to get some breathing room after starting on their own four. The Lions ran the ball once and that was it for the third quarter.
End of 3rd: Detroit-14, Green Bay-17.
The Lions were driving but couldn’t get any father after an injury to Quinton Rollins stopped play for a few minutes. Rollins was taken to a hospital. The Lions punted with 14:39 left in the fourth quarter. Rodgers converted with his feet and his arm, finding Allison and Adams to get into scoring range. Darius Slay was dinged up on a tackle of Jordy Nelson. He came back in on 2nd & 9, which was a Rodgers incompletion. He converted on third, rolling around to find Allison in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Packers went up 23-14 after a missed extra point.
The Lions got the ball with about ten minutes left in the game down by nine points. Stafford found Marvin Jones after being flushed out of the pocket. He threw two incompletions to T.J. Jones and they brought Prater out for a 54-yarder and he crushed it. The Lions made it 23-17, with seven minutes left. Jim Caldwell successfully challenged a friendly spot. On the next play, however, Ziggy got burned on a quarterback keeper on third down. A penalty on Darius Slay on the next play gave Green Bay the ball at their own 48. The Lions blitzed and forced an errant throw which was incomplete. Rodgers converted on third again, though, getting into easy field goal range.
Tahir Whitehead whiffed on another possible stop, and Montgomery got a first down.
Rodgers threw it up to DaVante Adams for his fourth touchdown of the day. The Packers got the 2-point conversion for a 31-17 lead. Detroit got the ball back with 2:50 left in the game.
Stafford hit Ebron twice, then Golden Tate for a big gain into scoring range with two minutes left. Stafford was intercepted in the end zone. Green Bay couldn’t run the clock out however, and Stafford bombed it out to Boldin for a touchdown. Somehow, the game still wasn’t over. But Detroit couldn’t recover it and lost anyways.
End of Game: Green Bay-31, Lions-24.
3 Stars of the Game:
1. Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers was the M.V.P. in this game and probably the entire league after this performance. He was amazing in the biggest moments, going 27-39, for 300 yards, 4 TDs, and a QB rating of 126.0
2. Zach Zenner
Zenner had 110 total yards, with 69 rushing yards and 41 receiving. He also had a touchdown. Zenner was all the Lions had and he had to act as their Theo Riddick in a lot of ways. He’s clearly the Lions’ best threat out of the backfield right now with so many injuries.
3. DaVante Adams
Adams was outstanding, along with Allison. The two combined for 132 yards and 3 TDs. The Packers made plays all game when they had to, And that was the difference in the game.
Detroit now hits the road to take on the Seattle Seahawks. If you ask me, that might be better than those pesky, red-hot New York Giants.
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