Based on the score and the statistics, you would have guessed that today's game between the Lions and Packers was played outdoors in the snow. It was actually played inside Ford Field, though, and neither offense showed up despite being in the comfy confines of a dome. This game was the definition of a defensive struggle, and it was the Lions' defense that rose to the occasion and led the team to a 7-3 win over the Green Bay Packers, snapping a 19-game losing streak to NFC North opponents.
The theme of this game was punts and turnovers. The Lions started the game off with a three and out, but two plays into Green Bay's first drive they got the ball back on a Brandon McDonald fumble recovery. On the Lions' next possession, they were actually moving the ball and got into field goal range, but Drew Stanton threw an awful pass up for grabs in the end zone and was picked off. Following the turnover, the next four drives between the Packers and Lions resulted in punts.
Toward the end of the first quarter, the Lions forced another turnover. Aaron Rodgers was picked off on a drop by Greg Jennings. It should have been a catch and a big gain, but Jennings couldn't bring it in and Amari Spievey was right there for the interception. Unfortunately the Lions couldn't capitalize on the turnover, as they went three and out yet again.
After Green Bay punted, the Lions turned the ball over again. Detroit was moving the ball well for a few plays, but Stanton first took an awful sack for a loss of 19 and then threw a terrible pass downfield that was picked off. The turnover didn't lead to points for Green Bay, though, as there were only more punts the rest of the first half.
One thing that is worth pointing out before we move on to the second half is that Aaron Rodgers took a big hit by Landon Johnson toward the end of the first half and banged his head on the ground. He stayed out there for a few plays, but after he went to the bench it was discovered that Rodgers suffered a concussion, ending his day and forcing Matt Flynn into action. (Johnson also got hurt in this game. On the first play of the second half he made a hard hit and ended up ramming his head into a GB player's shoulder. He had to be taken off the field on a stretcher with a neck injury. There isn't a concrete update on his status, but it has been reported that he was moving his extremities, so that's good news.)
To start the second half, Flynn actually played pretty well, driving the Packers down the field for a 42-yard field goal to break the scoreless tie. After the Lions had to punt on the next possession, Green Bay again moved the ball down the field and actually got inside the 10-yard line. It was at this point, however, that DeAndre Levy picked off Flynn in the end zone, keeping the score at 3-0.
The Lions answered with a decent drive of their own thanks mainly to a 44-yard pass to Calvin Johnson, who made an awesome catch over Charles Woodson. The catch helped put the Lions in field goal range, or so we thought. Dave Rayner attempted a 48-yard kick to try and tie the game, but a bad snap messed up the timing and it went wide left, meaning the Lions were still trailing, 3-0.
The Lions' defense forced a three and out and the offense finally got things going on the ensuing drive. Detroit went down the field on the ground and through the air and scored a touchdown on a 13-yard screen pass to tight end Will Heller. The touchdown drive took nearly seven minutes off the clock, as the Lions went 80 yards on 12 plays to take a 7-3 lead.
After trading punts, the Packers got the ball back and started moving down the field. They needed a touchdown to win, and after going 51 yards in about two and a half minutes, things looked promising. The defense stood tough for the Lions, however, and forced a stop. Brandon Jackson gained only a yard on 2nd and 2, and Flynn threw an incomplete pass on 3rd and 1. On 4th and 1, Green Bay went for a long pass down the field to Greg Jennings and it was slightly overthrown. It hit the turf for an incompletion and gave Detroit the ball back with less than a minute remaining.
For the first time since October, the Lions were able to sit back and simply run out the clock to seal a victory. Detroit won by a score of 7-3, and as mentioned earlier, the victory snapped a 19-game losing streak within the NFC North. It for sure wasn't the prettiest performance in the world offensively (Drew Stanton looked lost for most of the first three quarters), but the defense played lights out today. The defensive line was outstanding, and despite having a ton of backups playing in the back seven, the linebackers and defensive backs played pretty well, too.
Now that one losing streak is done, the Lions will look to end their road losing streak. They head to Tampa Bay next Sunday to play the 8-5 Buccaneers, and after that they get to stay in Florida to play at the Dolphins.