Detroit Lions: Packers Streak vs. Lions

Each day this week, we’ll look at one of the closer calls the Lions had during their 22-game losing streak in Wisconsin.

Date: Dec. 31, 1994
Score: Green Bay 16, Detroit 12
Records at the time: Packers (10-7), Lions (9-8)

What happened: Of all the losses in the state over the past two-plus decades for Detroit, this one might have been the cruelest.

Detroit had made the playoffs for the third time in four years, having lost to the Packers at home in the wild-card round the year before. And in this game on this winter day in Green Bay, the Lions couldn’t do anything on offense.

Running back Barry Sanders was held to minus-1 yards rushing on 13 carries and 3 yards of offense overall. The Lions were actually held to minus-4 yards rushing as a team against the Packers.

The rushing low remains a playoff record.

Yet despite all of that, Detroit almost won anyway. The Lions trailed 16-10 and were on the Packers 17-yard line with 1:51 left, facing a fourth-and-14, according to the Associated Press’ account of the game. Quarterback Dave Krieg threw the ball to Herman Moore in the back of the end zone but he came down out of bounds ensuring Green Bay’s win.

“I was out of bounds,” Moore told the AP after the game. “It’s not a lot of mystery as to what took place. It’s just a situation where you try to make a play and you just run out of room.”

Had Detroit won, it would have snapped this streak before it even really got going and would have advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs for the second time in four seasons.

The 1994 season was an interesting one in the then-NFC Central as well. Four of the five teams in the division made the playoffs. Detroit, Green Bay, Chicago and division champion Minnesota all got in and faced each other on the first weekend of games.

How the season finished: The Lions’ season ended in Lambeau. Green Bay’s season would end the next week in Dallas, being crushed by the Cowboys, 35-9.

Previous games looked at: Dec. 12, 2004; Dec. 11, 2005; Oct. 3, 2010; Jan. 1, 2012
Each day this week, we’ll look at one of the closer calls the Detroit Lions had during their 22-game losing streak in Wisconsin.

Date: Dec. 12, 2004
Score: Green Bay 16, Detroit 13
Records at the time: Packers (8-5), Lions (5-8)

What happened: Two seconds. Two seconds.

Of 60 minutes on this Sunday in Green Bay, the Lions led or the game was tied for 59 minutes, 58 seconds. And then the Lions lost anyway.

Ryan Longwell made a 23-yard field goal to keep then-Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre’s home winning streak against Detroit along with the Packers’ overall home winning streak against Detroit alive.

This game was particularly painful because Detroit led 13-0 at halftime and almost beat the Packers despite a horrific passing day from Lions quarterback Joey Harrington, who completed 5 of 22 passes for 47 yards.

The second half struggles were common for Detroit that season. It was the fifth straight week the Lions did not score an offensive touchdown in the second half. Not surprisingly, the Lions lost four of those five games.

What made all of this more interesting was the weather, which the Associated Press described in its recap as “snow flurries dampened the field into what Longwell called a ‘swampy mess’ and swirling winds with guts up to 35 mph wreaked havoc on passes, punts and long snaps and caused a slew of drops.”

In other words, a really fun atmosphere to play in.

As you’ve likely seen this week, this is how it goes for the Lions in Green Bay, though. They didn’t score in the second half, once again Charlie Brown’d by Lucy van Pelt in a cameo as the Packers.

How the season finished: The Lions finished 6-10, third in the NFC North. Green Bay, as per usual, won the division and went to the playoffs. The Packers lost to Minnesota, 31-17, in the wild-card round at Lambeau Field.

Prior games looked at: Dec. 11, 2005; Oct. 3, 2010; Jan. 1, 2012
Each day this week, we’ll look at one of the closer calls the Lions had during their 22-game losing streak in Wisconsin.

Date: Dec. 11, 2005
Score: Green Bay 16, Detroit 13 OT
Records at the time: Packers (3-10), Lions (4-9)

What happened: Neither team was very good on a cold Sunday night in Green Bay in 2005, a game where both teams had no shot at making the playoffs or finishing above .500.

Yet it turned into one of the closer Lions-Packers games in recent memory in Wisconsin, needing to go to overtime to determine a winner.

Ryan Longwell made a 28-yard field goal with 9:43 left in overtime to give the Packers a win, not even giving the Lions a chance to try to score in overtime. On the first -- and only -- drive of overtime, Detroit had forced a third-and-8, but Brett Favre completed an 8-yard pass to extend the drive.

The key play in the loss for Detroit came early in the fourth quarter, when the Lions drove to the Packers' 1-yard line and had three tries at running into the end zone with the score tied at 13-13. Artose Pinner ran up the middle twice, only to be stopped short. Then the Lions tried a quarterback sneak with Jeff Garcia on fourth down only to be stopped a third time.

The star of the game had been Green Bay rookie running back Samkon Gado, who rushed for 171 yards -- 1 more yard than Favre threw for -- and scored the Packers’ only touchdown.

Only two Detroit players from that game -- center Dominic Raiola and long-snapper Don Muhlbach -- remain on the Lions.

How the season finished: The Lions, who switched coaches from Steve Mariucci to Dick Jauron at midseason, finished the year 5-11 and hired Rod Marinelli to start the 2006 season. The Packers ended the season worse than Detroit with a 4-12 record and fired Mike Sherman at the end of the year. Green Bay hired Mike McCarthy to replace Sherman and he remains the Packers’ head coach.
Each day this week, we’ll look at one of the closer calls the Lions had during their 22-game losing streak in Wisconsin.

Date: Oct. 3, 2010
Score: Green Bay 28, Detroit 26
Records at the time: Packers (3-1), Lions (0-4)

What happened: This might have been the most unpredictable of all of Detroit’s losses in Green Bay over the years. If anything, that the game was as close as it ended up being is the biggest surprise of all.

The Lions were without starting quarterback Matthew Stafford, who separated his shoulder in the opening week of the season. So Detroit went to Green Bay with Shaun Hill as its quarterback.

And Hill almost led the Lions to a win.

Hill completed 34 of 54 passes for 331 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the game. He also rushed four times for 53 yards.

But the same issues that plagued the Lions over the years kept them from winning. They had 13 penalties for 102 yards and they couldn’t finish off drives. After a Charles Woodson interception return in the third quarter gave Green Bay a 28-14 lead, the Lions scored on four drives.

The problem was, they didn’t score a touchdown on any of them.

Even then, Detroit had two major chances. The first came on its final drive, when the Lions drove to the Green Bay 37-yard line before Hill threw two incomplete passes to Calvin Johnson before having to punt with 6:32 left.

Then the Lions' defense couldn’t stop Green Bay running back John Kuhn. Kuhn ran the ball seven times on the Packers’ final drive and the Lions only put Green Bay in a third down once on the drive. When they did -- with 55 seconds left -- Kuhn ran up the middle for 8 yards to seal the win.

An interesting nugget in this game was two of the team’s top three targeted receivers were tight ends. Brandon Pettigrew, who led the Lions with eight catches for 91 yards, saw 11 targets -- the same as Johnson. Tony Scheffler was thrown to 10 times, catching six passes for 63 yards.

How the season finished: The Lions, who were 0-4 after losing at Green Bay, finished at 6-10 in their second season under Jim Schwartz. They had won their final four games of the season -- including a win over Green Bay at Ford Field that December. The Packers, meanwhile, made the playoffs as the No. 6 seed and ended up beating Pittsburgh, 31-25, to win the Super Bowl.
Each day this week, we’ll look at one of the closer calls the Lions had during their 22-game losing streak in Wisconsin.

Date: Jan. 1, 2012
Score: Packers 45, Lions 41
Records: Packers (15-1), Lions (10-6)

What happened: Green Bay sat most of its key players, having already wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, giving the Lions a chance to clinch their own playoff fortunes as well.

And Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford tried to bring the Lions a No. 5 seed instead of a No. 6 seed by throwing for 520 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions -- one of the better passing games in Detroit history.

Here was the problem.

Then-Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn matched him. Flynn threw for 480 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. Flynn played because Green Bay sat starters Aaron Rodgers, James Starks, Randall Cobb, Bryan Bulaga and Greg Jennings on offense and Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson on defense.

Both quarterbacks had passer ratings over 100 and QBRs over 84.

The Lions did a lot right in that game. They forced a safety, held Green Bay under 4 yards a carry and outgained the Packers. They even scored a touchdown to take the lead -- a 12-yard pass from Stafford to tight end Tony Scheffler -- with 2:39 left to take a 41-38 lead.

But for Detroit there is something about winning in Green Bay that has been impossible since 1991 and the Packers went 80 yards in eight plays over 1 minute, 29 seconds to score what turned into the game-winning touchdown from Flynn to Jermichael Finley.

In perhaps one of the closer calls of the last 22 tries for Detroit, the Lions actually had the ball on the Green Bay 37-yard line when Stafford threw an interception on a pass intended for Nate Burleson with 25 seconds left to seal the Packers win and the streak.

If you’re curious, Detroit will have nine starters from that game on the field Sunday -- Stafford, Scheffler, tight end Brandon Pettigrew, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, offensive linemen Dominic Raiola and Rob Sims, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and linebackers Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy.

How did their seasons finish: Instead of facing the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants, the Lions traveled to New Orleans and were blown out, 45-28. Green Bay didn’t win another game that season, either, being beaten by the Giants at Lambeau Field in the divisional round of the playoffs, 37-20.