Thursday, December 29, 2011
Packers could help Lions end streak
By Kevin Seifert
It's been interesting listening and reading to the NFC playoff scenarios this week. It usually goes something like this: The Detroit Lions can clinch the No. 5 seed with a victory against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
I wonder if everyone realizes how monumental that would be. (And not because of Lions center Dominic Raiola's tongue-in-cheek assessment of Packers fans, either. More below.)
It's been more than 20 years since the Lions last won a game in Wisconsin: A 21-17 victory by a Lions team on its way to a 12-4 season against a Packers team that was nearing the end of a 4-12 campaign. Erik Kramer threw two touchdown passes for the Lions on a 10-degree day, and Mike Tomczak's late touchdown pass to Vince Workman left the Packers four points short.
The Lions' ensuing 19-game losing streak in Green Bay/Milwaukee is the longest against a single opponent in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"I think it had a lot to do with the guys they had playing quarterback since 1991 more than anything," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said.
Which brings us to Sunday. Packers coach Mike McCarthy hasn't announced his personnel plans, but with the Packers unable to improve their playoff standing, it's hard to imagine that he will play quarterback Aaron Rodgers the entire game. (Former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon tweeted Thursday that he spoke with McCarthy and that people "should expect to see some of" backup Matt Flynn.)
The Lions have a bit more incentive, given the consequences for a fifth seed over a sixth. It makes sense for the Packers to pull back and for the Lions to push full steam ahead. In all likelihood, the game will hang on a matchup between Flynn and Matthew Stafford. Will that be the combination that ends the streak? I doubt the Lions will care.
Related: I doubt it will faze the Packers, but their fans will probably be motivated to see the Lions lose again after reading Raiola's comments made Thursday in Detroit. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Raiola was asked about the Green Bay "tradition" of mooning the visiting buses when they arrive at Lambeau Field. Raiola: "I get to the stadium too early. I don't see that. But that'd be pretty awesome to see. I don't know if I want to see any of those people naked. They're not in real good shape up there." Later, according to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News, Raiola added: "It looks like they live a simple life. They love the Pack and that's pretty much it."