The Detroit Lions absolutely took it to the Green Bay Packers in the first half, dominating them in every phase of the game. They headed to the locker room with a 27-3 lead—arguably the best half of football the team has ever played against the Packers.
It was a bit of a different story in the second half, as the Packers—at one point—made it a 10-point game early in the fourth quarter. But Detroit closed out the game well, and walked away with a relatively comfortable 34-20 win in Lambeau. With the win, Detroit moves to 3-1 and sole possession of the NFC North lead.
Here’s how it happened.
Green Bay won the toss and deferred, giving the Lions offense a chance to take an early lead. After the first two plays went for negative yardage, Jared Goff tried to force a ball into a tight window and was picked off by Rudy Ford.
Taking over at the Lions’ 16-yard line, the Packers couldn’t get much going themselves. A second-down sack by Aidan Hutchinson forced Green Bay into a third-and-19.
The Packers were happy with a conservative third-down play call to ensure a field goal and a 3-0 Packers lead.
Detroit’s second offensive drive went much better. After a couple first downs gained on the ground, Goff connected with tight end Sam Laporta for a big 35-yard gain,
Goff then found a wide-open Amon-Ra St. Brown for a 24-yard touchdown. 7-3 Lions.
The Lions defense got another three-and-out, thanks to an Isaiah Buggs sack and Jerry Jacobs pass breakup. After a decent punt return from Kalif Raymond, the Lions took over at their own 45-yard line.
The Lions quickly moved into Packers territory with a 23-yard pass to Josh Reynolds on a third-and-3. A Goff keeper put the Lions first-and-goal from the 4-yard line. A couple plays later, David Montgomery punched it in from 3 yards to make it 14-3 Lions.
Green Bay again failed to log a first down, as Jordan Love overthrew his receiver on third-and-3, resulting in the Packers’ third consecutive three-and-out.
Two big plays put the Lions immediately in scoring position again. Josh Reynolds made a one-handed 26-yard grab, and the Lions executed a perfect reverse to Kalif Raymond for 40 yards.
Detroit outgained Green Bay 194-1 in the first quarter and set up first-and-goal from the Packers’ 9, they looked to add to the scoreboard. But Detroit couldn’t punch it in and settled for a field goal attempt from 32 yards out (after a holding penalty). Riley Patterson nailed it and made it 17-3 Lions.
The Packers’ nightmare night on offense continued, as Love threw an interception on the very first play of the next drive. Alex Anzalone tipped the pass and Jerry Jacobs picked it off and returned it to the Packers’ 7-yard line.
Two plays later, Montgomery earned his second touchdown of the day. 24-3 Lions.
Just when you thought the Packers might finally get a first down, Brian Branch perfectly batted down a pass intended for Christian Watson, and just like that, it was Lions ball again.
The Lions offense finally slowed a bit. A holding penalty on Jonah Jackson set Detroit back, and they couldn’t convert on a third-and-23. A muffed punt by the Packers—barely recovered by Green Bay—pinned the home team deep inside their own 10-yard line.
Green Bay finally got a first down with help from an offsides penalty on Detroit. But that success wouldn’t last long, as Alim McNeill completely blew up the drive on back-to-back plays. McNeill gobbled up AJ Dillon for a 3-yard loss and followed it up with a sack.
The Lions answered with a methodical drive, with a key third-down pickup to St. Brown and a phenomenal scramble and throw by Goff to move Detroit to the Packers’ 35-yard line at the two-minute warning.
The drive would eventually stall at the outer edge of the red zone. Again, Patterson would trot out for a 37-yard field goal and make it, pushing the score to 27-3 Lions with 34 seconds left.
Green Bay would try to use the limited time to get some desperation points. They got in position to throw a hail mary, but just like last week, the Lions sent pressure and picked up a sack to end the half.
The Packers offense came out of the second half with some life. A 24-yard strike to Watson put them in Detroit territory:
Unfortunately for Detroit, rookie defensive back Brian Branch went down with an injury and looked to be in considerable pain.
Green Bay converted a fourth-and-9 to move into a first-and-goal situation. A couple of plays later, they would punch it in to Watson and a successful two-point conversion made it 27-11 Lions.
The Lions offense did just what you don’t want to do with a team looking for a comeback: go three-and-out. Green Bay took over on their own 30-yard line looking to make it a one score game with plenty of time left.
But Green Bay also went three-and-out after a backwards pass from Love hit the ground and went out of bounds for an 11-yard loss.
A holding penalty on the ensuing punt set the Lions offense up at their own 11-yard line. A nice whip route by Jahmyr Gibbs helped Detroit move the sticks on a third-and-short, but that was it for the Lions drive. Goff took a sack on a second-and-5, and Detroit packed it in with a draw play on third-and-15.
With 54 seconds left in the third quarter, the Packers took over at their 34-yard line. A first down would move them to the 47-yard line... and then comes the controversy.
With the clock clearly at 0:00, the refs allowed Green Bay to run one extra play, and—of course—it was a 44-yard bomb to Jayden Reed to get the Packers down to the 9-yard line.
Two plays later, Love ran a designed draw play for a 9-yard score, but Detroit managed to stop the two-point conversion to keep it a two-score game at 27-17 Lions.
The Lions offense started to get going a little bit for the first time in the second half. A couple of play-action passes to David Montgomery moved Detroit to midfield. Facing a third-and-2 in Green Bay territory, Jahmyr Gibbs picked up a clutch 6 yards to move the chains again for the Lions to keep the clock running. On the next play, Josh Reynolds made a diving catch for 20 yards, putting Detroit into field goal territory. However, the Lions got stopped on a third-and-9 draw play, and settled for a 30-yard field goal. Patterson nailed it and made it 30-17 Lions, but a boneheaded penalty on Quay Walker gave the Lions a new set of downs instead.
Whoa! The Lions benefit from a late - but correct - flag. Quay Walker hit with the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) September 29, 2023
Detroit takes points off the board to extend the drive. pic.twitter.com/ymwDtXB16Q
Detroit got themselves into a fourth-and-goal from the 1 and Dan Campbell aggressively went for it. Montgomery rewarded the risk-taking with his third touchdown of the day. 34-17 Lions.
With just under six minutes left, it was desperation mode for Love. A deep completion to Samori Toure quickly got the Packers inside the Lions 20-yard line.
But Jacobs called game with a red-zone interception.
Green Bay would eventually add a field goal.