Game Recap: Packers Beat Lions 31-24, Win NFC North

Sarah Kelliher recaps the Packers’ week fourteen win against the Lions.      

For the second consecutive year, the Green Bay Packers (10-3, 4-1 NFC North) are NFC North champions. With a 31-24 win over the Detroit Lions (5-8, 1-4 NFC North) on Sunday and a Minnesota Vikings loss, the Packers clinched the division and, following a New Orleans Saints loss, shifted into the first-place spot in the NFC.

Although the Packers walked away with the result, they had to fight for it until the very end at Ford Field. The Lions would get the ball first in this one and wasted no time showcasing they were ready to play. On their first drive, they marched down the field in 11 plays for 75 yards and shaved 5:36 off the clock before quarterback Matt Stafford connected with tight end TJ Hockenson on a 1-yard shovel pass to make it 7-0 Lions.

The Packers, however, clearly weren’t impressed and decided to show how an opening drive is really done. Green Bay responded by also going 75 yards down the field, but did so in just three plays and 1:24. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers connected with his top wide receiver target, Davante Adams, on a short pass and Adams displayed a little trickery and beat his man and took off for a 56-yard score to make it 7-7.

Then, The Packers forced the Lions to put and, before you could blink, Rodgers was back in the driver’s seat making things happen for Green Bay. After first downs from wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, a scramble for a first down from Rodgers himself, a first down from running back Jamaal Williams, first down from wide receiver Tavon Austin and then a first down from Adams, Rodgers connected with MVS for what was probably the best catch of his career for a 14-yard touchdown to take a 14-7 lead. The monster drive shaved 7:01 off the clock and consisted of 12 plays and 69 yards (ESPN stats).

After both the Lions and Packers were forced to punt on their next drives, the Lions took the field for what seemed like forever before the half and went 80 yards in 11 plays before pushing through for six. Lions running back D’Andre Swift rushed in for the 3-yard score to tie the game at 14 at the half.

When it looked like Green Bay would have to punt on it’s opening drive of the second half, MVS displayed his athleticism once more and kept what ended up being a lengthy drive alive. Rodgers connected with him over the middle for 21 yards on third and fourteen to keep things moving. Then, after shaving nearly nine minutes off the clock, the old man himself joined in on the fun and scrambled for 6 yards and into the end zone for a touchdown. Rodgers found gold and the Packers took a 21-14 lead off what would be the only score in the third quarter.

On their next drive, Green Bay took their time again before digging for more gold. This time they went 71 yards in 12 plays and shaved 7:49 off the clock (ESPN stats). MVS, tight end Robert Tonyan, Rodgers, running back Aaron Jones and Williams all had key first down plays before Rodgers connected with Tonyan for a 4-yard touchdown pass to take a 28-14 lead.

Detroit wasn’t going down without making this one at least somewhat interesting though. Thanks to holding penalties from safety Adrian Amos and linebacker Christian Kirksey, the Lions were able to extend their drive (which should’ve died quickly) and get points out of it too. Running back Kerryon Johnson rushed for 2 yards to cut the Packers’ lead to just one score at 28-21.

On their next drive, Green Bay couldn’t quite find their rhythm either and had to settle for a 58-yard field goal attempt. Luckily for the Packers, kicker Mason Crosby came up clutch and drilled the 58-yarder to tie his career long and extend Green Bay’s lead to 31-21.

Just when it seemed like the Packers had this one in the bag, Green Bay’s special teams laid a giant egg; Detroit had a 71-yard kick return and were right back in Packers territory. After exiting the game with a rib injury, Stafford was replaced by Chase Daniel at quarterback and the Packers defense was luckily able to hold him and the Lions to a field goal to give us our final score of 31-24.

Detroit attempted an onside kick with 1:49 left in the game but the ball rolled out of bounce before the Lions could grab it, giving Green Bay the win and the NFC North.

 

What we learned: Rodgers is the MVP

Heading into week fourteen, the league MVP race between Rodgers and Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes was neck and neck. However, after both of their performances on Sunday, Rodgers is absolutely leading that race now.

Rodgers was 26/33 against Detroit and threw for 290 yards and 3 touchdowns and rushed for a touchdown of his own (ESPN stats). Meanwhile, Mahomes still had a strong 24/34, 393-yard, 2 touchdown performance but managed to throw 3 interceptions along the way (ESPN stats).

 

What went right: Packers Win the North!

After their win and the Vikings loss on Sunday, the Packers clinched the NFC North for the seventh time in the last decade, according to FOX. Not only did the Packers win their division on Sunday, but they also took first place in the NFC after the Saints fell to the Eagles.

As exciting as these milestones are, the Packers remain focused on their ultimate goal- the Super Bowl. Adams was sporting a “Won, Not Done” shirt in his post-game media availability.

 

What went wrong: Special Teams (not Mason Crosby)

Besides Crosby, the Packers have some serious issues on special teams. Week after week after week we’ve seen this, but the Lions 71-yard kickoff return late in the game was the cherry on top. Giving up plays like this, especially so late in the game, are so unacceptable and could absolutely cost Green Bay in a potential late playoff run.

The offense can only score so many points without support from the other sides of the ball in Green Bay.

 

Offensive MVP: MVS

Have a day, MVS! Valdes-Scantling had a career day on Sunday with 6 receptions for 85 yards and 1 touchdown (ESPN stats). As frustrating as his drops can be sometimes, MVS proved Sunday why the Packers continue to believe in him. His contested touchdown reception in the second quarter was a thing of beauty and showcased his strength and hands all in one play.

 

Defensive MVP: Darnell Savage Jr.

After a beautiful late-game interception in week thirteen, safety Darnell Savage Jr. continued to trend in the right direction on Sunday. Savage led the team in tackles with 8, all of which were solo, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss and 1 QB hit (ESPN stats). The Packers found a really great player in Savage and I’m excited to continue and watch him progress this season and beyond.

 

A look at some of your takeaways!

  • “Division champs!  Wins on the road in the division are tough, don’t care about style points. But - defensive soft spots are evident. ST are gar-bage, except for Mason. 12 to 17 is magic” -@EricRose4
  • “Thank god for Mason Crosby. MVP of the special teams.” -@ErikSlaby
  • “Thank you Philly!  NFC North Champs!!  LaFleur OWNS the North!  #GoPackGo” -@eric_erolson7

 

Up next, the Green Bay Packers get a visit from the Carolina Panthers for a rare NFL Saturday night football matchup. Kickoff is set for 8:15 p.m. EST next Saturday, December 19.  

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Kelliher is a contributor for CheeseheadTV and a podcaster with Pack-A-Day Podcast. She can be found via Twitter @sarahkelliher4

 

8 points

Comments (26)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 13, 2020 at 08:22 pm

It's really great to see Savage mature like this.

That said, what in the heck is Kirksey doing?

7 points
7
0
Bure9620's picture

December 13, 2020 at 08:43 pm

Kirksey looked very slow and not great.....

4 points
4
0
jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 13, 2020 at 09:08 pm

At least he was close enough to his guy to hold him...

5 points
5
0
PeteK's picture

December 14, 2020 at 11:38 am

No hold ,release will be a 6 mill relief.

0 points
0
0
Packers2020's picture

December 13, 2020 at 09:17 pm

A better question is: Why is Kirksey still playing?

5 points
5
0
Bure9620's picture

December 14, 2020 at 04:27 am

Martin is promising but still a rookie same with Barnes. Frankly, I would prefer to just see those two over Kirksey at this point.

1 points
1
0
Lphill's picture

December 13, 2020 at 09:44 pm

On the Hockenson TD in the red zone, Kirksey was deep in the end zone opposite side but he read the play and cut across and filled the hole but was pushed back into the end zone for the score , he had the right read but is just undersized to stop a bigger tight end , would Martin have made the quick decision to get there and make the tackle ? next draft the Packers have to take an inside linebacker, they can't keep sending guys out there that are inadequate.

6 points
6
0
Big_Mel_75's picture

December 14, 2020 at 10:14 am

Sure will another 4 rounder or lower is all we need they think.....

0 points
0
0
PeteK's picture

December 14, 2020 at 01:11 pm

Yes, a fast LB that can cover and tackle will be hard to find with the 32 nd pick. :) however, I loved the way Amos was laying the wood yesterday.

0 points
0
0
Alberta_Packer's picture

December 14, 2020 at 12:01 pm

So the usual - offence very good - defense spits the bit in the second-half (aided and abetted by the special teams coverage) but the Packers win!

Not so much upset with the D today because Stafford is still a very good QB (imagine what he could do if he had the Packers offense). But he should make better career choices than to try and run the ball near the goal line. AR has learned that lesson - slide - it will add years on your career.

Now here's the rub. The Packers have a worthy playoff caliber offense but not defense. However, looking at the 'racing form' of the other competitors - no one team has a stout defense. So it's a relatively open field for the Super Bowl. Whereas a few weeks ago I didn't think the Packers could make it to the Super Bowl, I must change my mind and opine that they might have a realistic chance - despite their defense.

Ps - Rodgers now leading contender for MVP?

5 points
5
0
Bure9620's picture

December 14, 2020 at 04:35 am

They can still win with this defense. Special teams on the other hand? Oh my goodness are they bad in kick coverage. My heart is in my throat on every punt and KO. This can get them beat in the playoffs.. MLF and Menenga need to sit and have a chat.

1 points
1
0
Alberta_Packer's picture

December 14, 2020 at 11:54 am

Special teams have regressed this year - players, coaches or both?

0 points
0
0
sheppercheeser's picture

December 14, 2020 at 07:03 am

I agree with your Stafford comment. Slide, Buddy, slide! That's a 300-lb. lineman on your butt, ready to make a pancake out of you! I actually thought it was a really dumb play. Matt has to know that the team has the best chance of winning with him in it. No excuse. Meh...

0 points
0
0
Alberta_Packer's picture

December 14, 2020 at 12:00 pm

I'm sure his ribs agree with you. He might as well have jumped in front of a truck than give a blind shot to a defensive lineman running at full speed.

0 points
0
0
SteelyPhil's picture

December 13, 2020 at 08:59 pm

Great recap as always, Sarah! Now that we have some tape to compare the two, I just want to give a special shout out to Mason Crosby for not only being a legend as a kicker but also being a better tackler than J. K. Scott.

6 points
6
0
Todd's picture

December 13, 2020 at 09:09 pm

Hear, hear.

2 points
2
0
theButlerdidit's picture

December 13, 2020 at 09:02 pm

Had visions of Brandon Bostock. Yikes.

0 points
1
1
stockholder's picture

December 13, 2020 at 09:04 pm

I'll take Rodgers as my MVP. MVS is back. May he continue to want the ball. I'll give Credit to everyone on Offense!! The Defense is another matter. The Safeties are making to many tackles. Blake Martinez usually led everyone. And that tells me Pettine's defense needs change. If Lowrey can't jump at the snap, he was done. And Clark is their only DL. Pettine needs to put the Rookies at ILB. The penalties must stop!

4 points
4
0
Thegravedigger's picture

December 13, 2020 at 09:19 pm

Ive already typed this twice on the site and sorry for the repeat but i really want as much feedback as possible. Why was burks and dafney on the hands team?? On a traditional onside kick i get it. They are to block for lazard. But in 2020 wit this damn banana kick, you have to be ready to pounce on that ball. They were not. They were just blocking and staying away. Meanwhile, lazard is getting blocked out of the play so when it goes 10 yards hes not there to catch it. This alarmed me more than any of the returns. Because this is solely on menenga. How are you not prepared to dive on the damn banana kick? Ill tell you how. Because your deer in headlights oren burks, and practice squad te dafney. And because your coach told u just block for lazard, even tho the banana kick was iminent. Get jaire and lewis and your vets on the hands team. Its a big moment. Couldve been the reason for an L. So not only was the execution a disaster but the personel was all wrong too. Just got lucky. The falcons didnt against the cowboys. But they were the first victims of the banana kick. We shouldve known better.

4 points
5
1
badaxed's picture

December 13, 2020 at 10:32 pm

Spot on!

1 points
1
0
Bure9620's picture

December 14, 2020 at 04:53 am

It's a fair question. Burks, for really trending toward the bust category is actually a good special teams player. No idea on Dafney. He is a TE, maybe they like his hands?

1 points
1
0
LayingTheLawe's picture

December 13, 2020 at 10:28 pm

Overall the defense gave up under 300 yards total only 50 yards running and held a team averaging 24 points per game to 24 points. 4 sacks. This is what the defense is going to be. They aren't going to destroy teams. They are maddeningly going to give up late points when they are ahead. They are going to maddeningly give up a first down on 3rd and 12. But they aren't as terrible as the knee jerk reaction of the fans makes you believe.

The special teams now on the other hand....With the weather growing cold and kicks not going to reach the end zone as often I cringe at the thought.

2 points
6
4
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 14, 2020 at 03:40 am

Detroit scored 10 points in the second half, with 3 gifted to them not by the GB defense but by the GB ST unit. Not seeing the defense leak points in the second half in this game.

"Leaking points in the second half" is a narrative divorced from reality, at least in this game, though sadly not in other games.

3 points
3
0
badaxed's picture

December 13, 2020 at 10:50 pm

The Packers haven't returned a kickoff for a score since the first week of the 2011 season. The Packers' last kickoff return touchdown? Randall Cobb's 108-yard return for a score during the Packers' season-opening win over the New Orleans Saints in 2011........that Is a long time ago.
The last Packers’ punt return touchdown: Micah Hyde’s 55-yard return for a score during the Packers’ Week 17 win over the Detroit Lions in 2014........yet our cover team seem to allow this regularly.

3 points
3
0
Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

December 14, 2020 at 09:12 am

Once upon a time we blocked a kick against the Vikings for a Josh Jackson TD. Searching for Packer special teams highlights must be just like being a Bears fan. “Yeah but 1985!”

1 points
1
0
Since91's picture

December 13, 2020 at 11:58 pm

You get what you emphasize! But with this current CBA and practice scenarios....I wonder if you can? and how much you can? work on special teams? Directional kicking needs to be instituted to cut the amount of ground to cover immediately! It will be cold from here on out!

1 points
1
0