Packers tight end Richard Rodgers (82) is pushed out of bounds
by Detroit Lions middle linebacker Tahir Whitehead (59) during
the first half of an NFL football game Sunday in
DETROIT — Aaron Rodgers threw three
of his four touchdown passes in the second half, lifting the Green Bay
Packers to an NFC North-winning 31-24 victory over the Detroit Lions on
Detroit's Matthew Stafford connected with Anquan Boldin for a 35-yard
touchdown pass with 13 seconds left, but the Packers recovered the
onside kick and Rodgers had only to kneel once to seal the victory.
The Packers (10-6) closed the regular season with six straight wins,
running the table as Rodgers said they could after losing four straight
games midway through the season, to win the division for the fifth time
in six years. Like his team, Rodgers has been perfect during the streak
with 15 TD passes and no interceptions. He will lead fourth-seeded Green
Bay at home Sunday against the fifth-seeded New York Giants in an NFC
Detroit (9-7) dropped its last three games after it had a two-game lead
in the NFC North, spoiling its shot at winning a division title for the
first time since 1993.
The Lions, though, will be in the playoffs for the second time in three
years with coach Jim Caldwell because the Giants beat the Washington
Redskins earlier in the day. The sixth-seeded Lions will play at
third-seeded Seattle on Saturday night in a wild-card game.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) stiff arms Detroit Lions
defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson (91) during the second half.
Rodgers , who was 27 of 39 for 300 yards,
threw a go-ahead, 3-yard TD pass to Davante Adams with 9:23 left in the
third quarter. Rodgers connected with Geronimo Allison and Adams in the
end zone in the fourth quarter to give Green Bay a 14-point lead in a
game it trailed 14-7 at halftime.
Stafford put Detroit ahead by a touchdown with a 3-yard pass to Golden
Tate with 23 seconds left in the second quarter after Zach Zenner tied
it with a 1-yard run.
Stafford was 26 of 41 for 347 yards with two TDs and an interception. He
made some fantastic passes and some he sailed over wide-open receivers.
Packers fullback Aaron Ripkowski (22) flips over Detroit Lions
strong safety Tavon Wilson (32) during the first half.
RODGERS RUNS: Rodgers ran for 42 yards,
his third-highest total of the season, on 10 carries. By design, he
converted a third-and-1 from the Green Bay 34 with a 13-yard run a
bootleg. Rodgers also used his feet to escape sacks and to give his
receivers time to get open.
MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: Stafford failed to connect with Tate when he was
all by himself midway through the first quarter, wasting a chance to
make a big play to possibly score on Detroit's second drive. Early in
the scoreless second period, Matt Prater missed a 39-yard field goal.
Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews also missed an opportunity, dropping
one of Stafford's passes that he could've possibly returned for a score.
MATTHEW'S MILESTONE: Stafford surpassed 30,000 yards passing for his
career, becoming the fastest quarterback to reach the mark. He did it in
his 109th game Sunday night against Green Bay. The previous record was
held by Dan Marino and Kurt Warner, who did it in 114 games. With a
chance to lead the Lions to a signature win, however, Stafford came up
short to add to his legacy that he beats bad teams and loses against
Packers: Two cornerbacks — Quinten Rollins (neck) and Makinton Dorleant
(knee) — were carted off the field minutes apart late in the third
quarter and another cornerback — Damarious Randall (knee) — left the
game with an injury in the second half. Rollins, who was conscious and
able to move, was taken to a hospital. Receiver Randall Cobb (ankle),
running back James Starks (concussion) and center JC Tretter (knee) were
inactive with injuries.
Lions: Receiver Marin Jones was evaluated late in the game for a
concussion, but returned to play. Cornerback Darius Slay returned from a
one-game absence with a hamstring injury. Right tackle Riley Reiff was
out with a hip injury and was missed, especially when Nick Perry got
past his replacement, Corey Robinson, for a possession-ending sack in
the third quarter.
Packers: Green Bay will play the Giants at Lambeau Field, where it beat
them 23-16 in Week 5.
Lions: Detroit, which has won only one playoff game since winning the
1957 NFL title, will face long odds to advance on the road against the