Sunday, December 12, 2010
Wrap-up: Lions 7, Packers 3
By Kevin Seifert
Some thoughts on a low-scoring game at Ford Field:
What it means: The Detroit Lions snapped their NFL-record 19-game division losing streak by defeating a Packers team that lost quarterback Aaron Rodgers (concussion) in the second quarter. The Lions hadn't won an NFC North game since Oct. 28, 2007 and last defeated the Packers in Week 1 of the 2005 season. The Packers (8-5) are now 1.5 games behind the division-leading Chicago Bears pending full Week 14 results. I'll have updated playoff scenarios after the Bears' game against the New England Patriots.
FlynnWatch: Packers quarterback Matt Flynn played the way you would expect an inexperienced backup to play after replacing Rodgers. He completed 15 of 26 passes for 177 yards, but threw a bad interception to Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy in the end zone during the third quarter, had a communication mixup with tailback John Kuhn on a failed third-and-1 run in the fourth quarter and overthrew an open Greg Jennings for what could have been the game-winning touchdown.
RodgersWatch: The Packers didn't score with Rodgers in the game, but they should have had at least one touchdown in the first quarter. Jennings tipped what would have been a 73-yard score into the air, allowing Lions safety Amari Spievey to intercept it. Rodgers has now suffered two concussions this season, and you wonder if that fact will force him to sit out next Sunday's matchup at New England.
Lions break through: The Lions had either led or been within five points of the lead in all 10 of their losses this season, unable to make a clinching or go-ahead play. Coach Jim Schwartz said during the week that "great things" were in store for the Lions if they learned how to make that final step. In the fourth quarter Sunday, tight end Will Heller would not be denied on a 13-yard screen pass that resulted in the go-ahead touchdown. And just as notably, the Lions' defense rose to the occasion. Linebacker Julian Peterson made a key stop of tailback Brandon Jackson on a second-and-1 on the Packers' final possession, and pressure from the defensive line kept Flynn off-balance all game. Overall, Lions defensive linemen had four sacks as the Packers netted 286 total yards.
ChallengeWatch: Should Packers coach Mike McCarthy have challenged a pass ruled incomplete to Jennings in the end zone prior to Mason Crosby's 42-yard field goal? Jennings seemed to think he caught the ball, but none of the two replays I saw provided enough evidence to overturn the play.
The Packers' final play: I wasn't offended by Flynn's decision to target Jennings deep down the left sideline on fourth-and-1. Jennings has been the Packers' top playmaker all season. He beat Lions cornerback Nate Vasher, as he has done many times in his career, and was open for the game-winning score. The Packers have won a lot of games over the years doing that. Flynn just overthrew the ball.
What's next: As noted, the Packers will travel to New England for a nationally televised game next Sunday night against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. The Lions will play at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday.