The Detroit Lions weren’t going to go into the offseason on a sour note. They beat the absolute crap out of the Green Bay Packers to complete the season sweep. It was Detroit’s first shutout since 1996, beating the Packers 31-0. Here’s how it happened.
The teams traded three-and-outs to start the game, but thanks to a sack from the Lions defense, Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense had great field position to start their second drive. They appeared to get into field goal range, but Andy Jones dropped an easy third-and-nine conversion. Matt Patricia opted not to trot Matt Prater out there for a 53-yard attempt, instead choosing to punt.
The Lions defense was able to get another three-and-out, giving the offense another chance with good field position. This time, the Lions cashed in. Thanks to third down pickups by Andy Jones and TJ Jones, Detroit worked their way into the red zone. And just when a brutal penalty by Rick Wagner threatened to halt yet another red zone possession, Matthew Stafford found TJ Jones in the end zone for a 5-yard score. 7-0 Lions.
Another forced defensive three-and-out gave the Lions a chance to go up two scores early.
The Lions would do just that. After stalling in the red zone, the Lions dialed up another Week 17 trick play, much to announcer Pat McAfee’s glee:
Green Bay would trot out Deshone Kizer for their fourth drive of the game, as Aaron Rodgers went into the locker room in order to be evaluated for a concussion. Kizer would pick up a couple of first downs, but ultimately ended up stalling after a third-down pass was nearly intercepted by Jarrad Davis.
What followed was yet another impressive Lions drive. 13 plays, 86 yards and well over five minutes off the clock. Zach Zenner rushed for 42 yards on the drive, including this 13-yard touchdown:
The Packers would threaten before the end of the half, but Detroit’s defense would hold strong at midfield and the Packers’ fifth punt of the day would end the first half.
It was more of the same in the second half. With Rodgers still out, Kizer couldn’t do much of anything on offense, while the Lions offense continued to move pretty well. Late in the quarter, after a Zenner screen play went for 30 yards, setting the Lions up in field goal position. Prater would decided to kick the ball this time, and was true from 43 yards. 24-0 Lions.
It looked like the Packers were finally going to get on the board late in the third. However, Robert Tonyan dropped an easy fourth-down conversion that would’ve given Green Bay first-and-goal.
Again, the Packers looked like they were about to score, but knowing that a field goal was meaningless, Green Bay went for it on fourth down. Darius Slay was not having any of that and knocked away the pass, keeping the shutout dreams alive.
Matthew Stafford would extend the lead on the next drive. His touchdown pass to TJ Jones was a thing of beauty. 31-0 Lions.
A big return threatened the shutout for Detroit, but Quandre Diggs put a quick end to that. Facing pressure, Kizer threw up a duck, and Diggs outjumped the receiver for his third pick of the season.
Zach Zenner and LeGarrette Blount ran out the rest of the clock.
The win drops the Lions in the draft order, but not by all that much. They likely would have picked around fifth overall, but will now be picking seventh or eighth depending on how the rest of Sunday’s games play out.
This is it.
The Detroit Lions’ 2018 season will come to an end Sunday afternoon on the mildly chilled tundra of Green Bay. For the second straight year, both teams will face off in a game with no postseason implications.
It’s a sad state for both franchises, who had combined for five playoff appearances in the previous three seasons.
For the Detroit Lions, it marks a rocky beginning to a new era. Matt Patricia has had a turbulent inaugural season as an NFL head coach. It’s had all the hallmarks of an embarrassing year: the tiffs with media, rumors of disgruntled players, and a 2-6 record since Halloween.
For the Green Bay Packers, it marks the end of an era. Mike McCarthy, a former Super Bowl winner, is already gone. After an offseason in which the Packers shook up their front office, they will go through another significant transition in the next couple of months, in the hopes of regaining their dominance in the North.
Frankly, it’s a depressing setting for a Week 17 finale, but at least FOX brought in Pat McAfee as an announcer to spice things up a little bit. Here’s how to watch the Lions’ 2018 season finale.
How to watch Lions-Packers
Date: Sunday, December 30, 2018
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: Lambeau Field — Green Bay, WI
Week 17 TV Map: Courtesy of 506 Sports here
Announcers: Justin Kutcher, Robert Smith, Pat McAfee, Sarah Kustok
Online streaming: Fox Sports Go, Yahoo Sports app
Local radio: WJR-AM NEWS TALK 760
Radio announcers: Dan Miller, Lomas Brown
Odds: Packers by 8