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The Packers beat the Lions at their own game.
After holding the Packers to just 14 points and 233 yards of offense through 3 1/2 quarters, the Lions just couldn’t stop them any more.
A 22-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb gave Green Bay a 21-20 lead with 1:55 left in the fourth quarter, and the Packers went on to beat the Lions 24-20 at Ford Field.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford never found a rhythm and finished 17 of 39 for 236 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson had four catches for 113 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown that gave the Lions a 17-14 lead with 3:01 left in the third quarter. Jason Hanson added a 27-yard field goal with 4:25 left in the fourth quarter, but the lead wasn’t big enough.
The Lions actually controlled most of the game with a great play from the defensive line, powered by Nick Fairley’s seven tackles, including two for loss, and two sacks.
Hanson’s 30-yard field goal put the Lions ahead 3-0 with 4:24 left in the first quarter, but the Packers responded on their next drive and took a 7-3 lead on a 21-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jermichael Finley just a minute into the second quarter.
Keeping with the theme, the Lions scored on the next drive thanks largely to a 4-for-4 effort by Stafford, including two third down passes to Johnson. Running back Mikel Leshoure, who finished with 19 carries for 84 yards, punched in a one-yard touchdown to make it 10-7 with 8:06 left in the half.
The Lions were lucky to hold a lead at halftime after giving up two turnovers in the final 1:15 of the second quarter.
Stafford threw an interception to Casey Hayward that gave the Packers the ball at their 48. Cornerback Jacob Lacey momentarily saved the Lions by intercepting a Rodgers pass.
But on the ensuing drive, Stafford fumbled while scrambling, and the Packers took over at the Lions 42. The Lions were again fortunate to avoid a Green Bay score, though, as kicker Mason Crosby missed a 50-yard attempt as the half drew to a close.
Safety M.D. Jennings returned an interception 72 yards for a touchdown to give the Packers a 14-10 lead with 8:31 left in the third quarter.
But the Lions responded on the next drive, taking a 17-14 lead on a 25-yard touchdown catch by Johnson with 3:01 left in the third.
Crosby missed a 38-yard field goal mid-way through the fourth quarter, and Hanson hit a 27-yarder that put the Lions up 20-14 with 4:25 left.
But the Packers stormed back late and grabbed a 21-20 lead on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Cobb with 1:55 left. Green Bay also had a 40-yard pass to Finley on the go-ahead drive.
The Lions turned it over on downs on the next drive, and Mason hit a 39-yard field goal. Stafford couldn’t lead a miraculous drive in the final 20 seconds.
Rodgers finished 19 of 27 for 236 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Lions left tackle Jeff Backus (hamstring) left the game in the second quarter and didn’t return as rookie Riley Reiff filled in for the rest of the game. Backus has started the past 186 games.
Lions kicker Jason Hanson hit a 27-yard field goal to give them a 20-14 lead against the Packers with 4:25 to play.
The Lions will take the points, but after having goal-to-go, they surely would rather have converted a touchdown.
Now it’s on the defense to get a stop.
With some better kicking, the Packers would be ahead right now.
But Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby missed a 38-yardwide left with 8:37 left in the fourth quarter, his second miss of the day.
He also missed from 50 yards at the end of the second quarter.
The Lions still lead 17-14 and take over at the 28.
They didn’t wait until the fourth quarter this time.
The Lions grabbed a 17-14 lead with 3:01 left in the third quarter on a 25-yard pass to Calvin Johnson, who grabbed the ball just before a Packers defensive back could.
Johnson is having a huge game and already has four catches for 113 yards and a touchdown.
There is plenty of game left, though.
Riley Reiff will continue to see more time on the field today.
Starting left tackle Jeff Backus (hamstring) will not return after suffering the injury in the second quarter.
The injury must be bad for Backus to stay out. He’s played in 186 consecutive games, a streak that will now be in jeopardy next week.
It’s one of those interceptions that isn’t completely Matthew Stafford’s fault, but that won’t make the Lions feel better.
Stafford’s pass bounced off Tony Scheffler’s hands and right to Packers safety M.D. Jennings, who took the interception 72 yards for a score.
To make matters worse, Stafford was called for an illegal low block on the return, a 15-yarder that will be assessed on the kickoff.
The Packers lead 14-10 with 8:31 left in the third quarter.
The Packers couldn’t take advantage of two Lions turnovers at the end of the first half, and the Lions managed to hold on to their 10-7 lead through two quarters.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw an interception with 2:15 left in the second quarter to give the Packers the ball at their 48, but two plays later, Jacob Lacey intercepted an Aaron Rodgers pass.
The Lions, though, couldn’t take advantage either, and Stafford lost a fumble when he tried to scramble on a third and 10 with a minute left in the half.
The Packers took over at the Detroit 42, but Mason Crosby’s 50-yard field goal missed wide left.
The game hasn’t been the shootout many expected, and the Lions and Packers have both struggled on offense so far.
The Packers lead total yards 164-163, but penalties (six for 50 yards) have been costly. The Lions have just one penalty for five yards.
The Lions had one sack in the first half, but the Packers sacked Stafford three times.
Calvin Johnson has been the star so far, catching three passes for 88 yards. Stafford is just 9 of 20 for 119 yards and an interception.
Rodgers is 12 of 18 for 124 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
The end of the first half has become a turnover fest.
The Lions and Packers both had an interception, and the Lions just lost a fumble.
Matthew Stafford was scrambling and had space, but the ball came loose on an ankle tackle. The Packers took over the Detroit 42 and will try to score again before halftime.
Lions left tackle Jeff Backus missed the end of the last offensive series and was on the bench being examined by trainers.
And after Matthew Stafford ended the drive with an interception to Casey Hayward, there was an announcement that Backus suffered a hamstring injury and is questionable to return.
Coaches have praised Reiff all season, so there may not be much of a drop in play, but Backus hasn’t missed a game in 12 seasons.
And as I write this update, Jacob Lacey intercepted an Aaron Rodgers pass. The Lions take over at their 33.
Mikel Leshoure will receive credit for a one-yard touchdown run, but that drive was all Matthew Stafford.
The Lions quarterback was 4 for 4 on the 74-yard touchdown drive, including third down completions to Calvin Johnson of 21 yards and 14 yards.
After Johnson’s 14-yard catch put the Lions at the 11, Leshoure had a 10-yard run then the one-yard touchdown.
With 8:06 left in the second quarter, the Lions lead 10-7.
As usual, Aaron Rodgers made a difficult play look easy.
With the Packers at the Detroit 21, the Lions sent a blitz on second down. Rodgers quickly looked over the linemen and hit a wide open Jermichael Finley.
Finley made the catch and ran to the end zone untouched to give the Packers a 7-3 lead with 13:56 left in the second quarter.
The Packers converted three third downs on their 81-yard scoring drive and lead despite the Lions having double the time of possession.
Calvin Johnson quickly made up for a drop on the Lions’ third drive.
Two plays after missing on a first-down pass, Johnson caught a 53-yard bomb from Matthew Stafford to put the Lions inside the red zone for the first time today.
An illegal hands to the face penalty on the Packers gave the Lions goal-to-go, but they couldn’t punch in the touchdown and settled for a 30-yard field goal by Jason Hanson after Stafford was sacked on third and goal.
With 4:24 left in the first quarter, the Lions lead 3-0.
The Lions haven’t cured their slow starts just yet.
After winning the coin toss, the Lions received by gained just three yards on a three-and-0ut.
The Packers gained a first down, but didn’t fare much better, punting back to the Lions.
Then, the Lions had another three-and-out.
The Packers will start their next drive on the Detroit 48, so they’re winning the early battle for field position.
Lions cornerback Drayton Florence was shaken up on the Packers’ first play. It looked like he underwent a concussion test, but put his helmet on and rejoined his teammates on the sideline.
If there was ever a time for the Lions’ defensive line to prove itself, this is it.
The Packers are just 1-3 in games when quarterback Aaron Rodgers is sacked three-plus times.
Green Bay allowed eight sacks to the Seahawks in a Week 3 loss, and the 49ers sacked Rodgers five times in a Week 1 win. Rodgers also suffered three sacks in a loss to the Colts in Week 5 and three against the Rams in Week 7, but the Packers won in St. Louis.
The Lions should like their matchup up front because the loss of right tackle Bryan Bulaga (hip) created a shift in the Packers’ offensive line. Left guard T.J. Lang (Brother Rice and Eastern Michigan) will play in Bulaga’s spot, and reserve Evan Dietrich-Smith (of stomping fame) will start at left guard.
Defensive tackle Corey Williams (knee) is out Sunday, but his replacement Nick Fairley has played his best games this season when starting. He has nine tackles and 1.5 sacks in three starts in 2012.
Ndamukong Suh could also play with a little extra motivation as he tries to put the stomping incident behind him, and defensive end Cliff Avril will draw a matchup against Lang, who will try to overcome the move outside.
And with the Lions missing their starting safeties again, the line will need to put pressure on Rodgers so he doesn’t have time to pick apart the Lions’ secondary.
Three sacks is by no means a magic number, but if the Lions can get to Rodgers early, their chances Sunday improve significantly.