Rapid Reaction: Packers 24, Lions 20
November, 18, 2012
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
DETROIT -- A few thoughts on Sunday's events at Ford Field:
What it means: The Green Bay Packers won their fifth consecutive game, this time in thrilling fashion, to improve to 7-3. The Detroit Lions fell to 4-6 and, in all likelihood, will have to win all of their remaining six games to qualify for the playoffs. The Packers are now 13-1 in their past 14 games against the Lions and have won nine consecutive NFC North games.
RodgersWatch: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers led the fifth fourth-quarter comeback of his career, emerging from game-long doldrums to lead an 82-yard drive in just six plays. A 40-yard pass to tight end Jermichael Finley got the Packers in scoring position, and receiver Randall Cobb hauled in Rodgers' high-arching 22-yard pass just before the two-minute warning to account for the winning score. Rodgers has received criticism for not leading more drives of that nature, but opportunity is at least part of that statistic.
StaffordWatch: Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is usually the quarterback who leads fourth-quarter drives, but this time he threw six consecutive incomplete passes over two possessions after Cobb's touchdown. Overall, Sunday wasn't Stafford's best game. He threw two interceptions, one of which Packers safety M.D. Jennings returned 72 yards for a touchdown, and he did not appear to be in sync with his receivers for long portions of the game. He completed only 17 of 39 passes and was sacked five times by a Packers defense that was playing without linebacker Clay Matthews.
Slump continues: Packers place-kicker Mason Crosby has now missed seven of his past 13 field goal attempts after failing to convert from 50 and 38 yards Sunday. You wonder how much patience the Packers will have with him. In fairness, however, Crosby did hit from 39 yards with 19 seconds left to account for the final scoring. But in the first quarter, coach Mike McCarthy opted against a 49-yard attempt and elected to go for it on fourth-and-4. (The play failed.) The Packers also tried an, ahem, unusual fake in the fourth quarter when Crosby lined up for a 58-yard attempt. Referee Ron Winter called tight end Tom Crabtree for a false start; when Crabtree went into motion, he stopped behind center as if he was going to catch a pitch. Presumably, Winter ruled the design of the play an illegal "abrupt shift."
Fairley dominates: We needed to go to the tape last week to uncover a strong performance by Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. No such exercise was needed Sunday to determine that teammate Nick Fairley played a whale of a game. Fairley dominated the Packers' new left guard, Evan Dietrich-Smith, and finished with two sacks among his unofficial seven tackles. Interior pressure and game-filling play from Fairley and Suh were big reasons why the Packers' offense didn't have many scoring opportunities Sunday.
Injury report: Lions left tackle Jeff Backus injured his hamstring in the second quarter and, after trying briefly to play with a wrap on his leg, left the game for good just before halftime. Rookie Riley Reiff replaced him, and now it'll be a real question if Backus can recover in time on a short week to maintain his streak of 186 consecutive games started.
What's next: The Lions have their annual quick turn for the Thanksgiving Day game, in which they'll host the Houston Texans. The Packers will play at the New York Giants in prime time next Sunday night.