Packers beat Lions, close in on NFC North title
Detroit loses fifth game in a row
Green Bay, winners of seven of their last eight, improved to 9-4 and took first place in the NFC North ahead of the Bears (8-5), who lost at Minnesota. The Packers play at Chicago next week with a chance to clinch the division title.
Detroit (4-9) lost its fifth in a row. They tied an NFL record with their third consecutive loss after leading by at least 10 points.
The last time the teams met at Lambeau, in last year's season finale, the quarterbacks combined for 1,000 passing yards and 11 touchdown passes. Aaron Rodgers wasn't a factor that day -- Matt Flynn got the start as the Packers rested for the playoffs -- and he wasn't a factor on the go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter Sunday. In a span of five plays, Alex Green ran for 10 and 9 yards, Ryan Grant ran for 13, and DuJuan Harris ran for 5 and the 14-yard touchdown.
The Lions, as has been the story of their season, couldn't make a key play. The ensuing offensive possession included two first downs, but Matthew Stafford just missed Tony Scheffler deep over the middle on third-and-8. A bad punt set up the Packers at their own 37.
On third-and-11, the Lions rushed three, giving Rodgers plenty of time to hit Randall Cobb for a catch-and-run gain of 38 yards. That set up a 41-yard field goal by Mason Crosby, which extended the advantage to 27-17 with 4:02 remaining.
Detroit's last realistic shot to make a game of it ended on Stafford's fourth-down incompletion with 2:26 to go. The Lions got the ball back and got a 34-yard field goal from Jason Hanson with seven seconds to go. A pooch kick went out of bounds, and the Packers ran out the clock.
The Packers spotted the Lions an early 14-0 lead but took a 17-14 lead on the first possession of the third quarter. Rodgers scored on a 27-yard run on third-and-4. Rodgers was pressured by defensive ends Lawrence Jackson and Willie Young but avoided the sack. Linebacker Justin Durant was tied up in coverage with Jermichael Finley at the sideline, and fullback John Kuhn blocked linebacker Stephen Tulloch as Rodgers ran untouched through a huge void on the right side of the field.
The Lions tied the game at 17 on a 46-yard Hanson field goal, then were given a short field when Crosby missed his seventh consecutive field goal from 50-plus yards.
Detroit, however, returned the favor when Hanson was short on a 52-yard attempt on the second play of the fourth quarter. Unlike Detroit, Green Bay took advantage with a 50-yard scoring drive on which all seven plays were runs. Harris punctuated the march with his touchdown.
Quarterback fumbles were the key to the first half, which ended with Detroit ahead 14-10.
The Lions, who led the NFL in passing attempts entering the game, ran the ball nine times on a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to open the game. On fourth-and-inches from the 4-yard line, Stafford ran untouched into the end zone on a bootleg.
The Packers appeared to have the answer, reaching the Lions' 12 on the ensuing drive, but Rodgers was sacked and stripped by Lawrence Jackson, with Tulloch recovering the loose ball. Detroit parlayed that into a 79-yard touchdown drive, capped by Stafford's 3-yard toss to Scheffler.
Crosby got the Packers on the board with a 49-yard field goal, and then it was Green Bay's turn to take advantage of a quarterback fumble. The ball slipped out of Stafford's hand on a screen, with defensive lineman Mike Daniels scooping up the loose ball and racing 43 yards for a touchdown. That cut Detroit's advantage to 14-10.
The Lions dominated the first half, holding a 218-94 edge in yards and a 41-16 edge in offensive snaps. Mikel Leshoure (11 carries, 43 yards) and Joique Bell (eight carries, 40 yards) led the way before the break as the Lions rushed for 117 yards, with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan taking advantage of Green Bay running nickel and dime packages on every snap of the half.
NOTES: Detroit's Calvin Johnson went over 1,500 receiving yards for the season, joining Marvin Harrison (2001-02) and Andre Johnson (2008-09) as the only receivers in NFL history to accomplish that feat. ... On Rodgers' first-quarter fumble, Ndamukong Suh lined up at defensive end to test undrafted rookie right tackle Don Barclay, who was making his first NFL start. Suh's rush forced Rodgers up in the pocket and allowed Jackson to make the play. ... Detroit has led five times at halftime during the 22-game road losing streak in the series. ... Rodgers' touchdown run was the longest by a Packers quarterback since Brett Favre's 36-yarder against Chicago in 1994. ... The Packers' inactives included defensive back Charles Woodson (collarbone), outside linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring) and receiver Jordy Nelson (hamstring). Woodson, who was injured Oct. 21, and Matthews, who hurt Nov. 4, are expected back for next week's NFC North showdown at Chicago. ... The Lions' inactives included safety Louis Delmas (knee) and defensive tackle Corey Williams (knee).