Lions lose Matthew Stafford and a heartbreaker to Packers

Darryl Roberts, Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Darryl Roberts, Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

Have we seen the last of Matthew Stafford with the Detroit Lions?

They hung tough and kept it close. But an exhausted defense and an injury to their best player were too much to overcome for the Detroit Lions.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdown passes and the Green Bay Packers edged the Lions 31-24 at Ford Field on Sunday. The Lions have lost four straight games to the Packers.

With the win and a Minnesota Vikings loss earlier on Sunday, the Packers clinched their second straight division title and 11th NFC North crown since the NFL’s divisional realignment in 2002. The Lions, conversely, have never captured the NFC North title. They also fell to 1-1 under interim head coach Darrell Bevell.

One play before the Lions cut the lead to seven on a short touchdown run by tailback Kerryon Johnson in the fourth quarter, quarterback Matthew Stafford was hit hard by Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clark as he slid for a first down. He left the game with a rib injury, and did not return.

Chase Daniel replaced him and finished 3/6 passing for 29 yards. Stafford went 24/34 for 244 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game.

Just as they did in their Week 2 matchup with the Packers, the Lions jumped out to an early lead, thanks to a short shovel pass touchdown to tight end T.J. Hockenson. It was Hockenson’s sixth touchdown reception of the season.

However, also  just like Week 2, the Lions’ lead was short lived. The Packers needed just offensive three plays to tie the game, as wideout Davante Adams took a short pass 56 yards to the house. Rodgers then found wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling for another score on the next drive. The Lions tied the game before halftime on a short touchdown run by rookie tailback D’Andre Swift.

The Packers used a drive of almost nine minutes to open the second half to grab the lead again on a six-yard scoring scamper by Rodgers. Three third-down conversions helped Green Bay extend the punishing possession. A short touchdown grab by tight end Robert Tonyan early in the fourth quarter put the Packers up by 14 points.

The Lions cut the lead back to seven on Johnson’s touchdown, but Packers kicker Mason Crosby drilled a clutch 58-yard field goal to extend the advantage to ten. Crosby famously hit a pair of game-winning field goals to beat the Lions in 2019, both as time expired. The Lions attempted an onside kick after a late field goal, but were unable to recover, giving the Packers possession and the victory.

More. Replacing Matthew Stafford may not happen immediately. light

At 5-8, the Lions have clinched a third consecutive non-winning season. They have finished with a record above .500 just five times since 2000. They will play their final road game of 2020 next Sunday, December 20th at 1:00 p.m. EST against the Tennessee Titans.