Crosby’s walk-off field goal lifts Packers to #2 seed and playoff bye

FOX Football Insider
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“We’re going to be a tough team to deal with in the playoffs.” – Aaron Rodgers

The Green Bay Packers are the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs, thanks to kicker Mason Crosby’s 33-yard field as time expired that lifted the Packers to a dramatic comeback 23-20 victory over Detroit at Ford Field Sunday.

It was the second time this season Crosby beat Detroit on a walk-off field goal, as he booted a game-winning 23-yarder on October 14 as performed his first Lambeau Leap afterward.

Packer Nation is leaping with joy today, as the victory improved Green Bay to 13-3 on the season and secured a #2 playoff seed.  The Packers have a much-needed bye week and then host either the New Orleans Saints or Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on Sunday, January 12.

The 5:40 p.m. game will be televised in Western Wisconsin exclusively on FOX 25/48.

For Aaron Rodgers, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.  There is no question Rodgers was off his game at times Sunday, erratically missing several wide-open receivers throughout the contest.

But the reality is this:  he was the catalyst to Green Bay’s much-needed victory in the second half, throwing touchdown strikes to Davante Adams and Allen Lazard and completing passes to Adams and Aaron Jones for crucial first downs on the game-winning field goal drive.

The Packers did not lead in the game until the final play.

The Lions, 3-12-1 with nine straight losses to close out the season, had nothing to lose and played for pride.

They took a 7-0 first-quarter lead on a trick play:  a reverse with receiver Danny Amendola throwing a 19-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open quarterback David Blough.

Detroit increased the margin to 14-0 on K Johnson’s 1-yard run in the second quarter as Rodgers and the Packers offense struggled mightily to find its rhythm.  Crosby booted a 32-yard field goal to make it 14-3 with 20 seconds before intermission, but sloppy defense allowed the Lions to answer with a 42-yarder as time expired for a 17-3 cushion.

Green Bay and Rodgers came to life in the second half.

Rodgers directed a drive that culminated with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Adams, who was wide open in the endzone after torching the Detroit secondary with a double-move.  After the teams traded field goals early in the fourth quarter, Rodgers delivered again.

He hit Lazard with a high pass that the second-year receiver hauled in against single coverage to tie the game at 20.

The Green Bay defense kept the Packers in the game.  Linebacker Blake Martinez is not known as a playmaker—he’s a grinder, a tackling machine.  As usual, he led the Packers with seven total tackles and recorded one sack for a 7-yard loss.  Martinez also made the defensive play of the game, dropping deep into coverage and intercepting David Blough’s underthrown pass in the fourth quarter and returning it 22 yards to set up the Packers offense.

The Packers converted one third down on their game-winning drive, and running back Aaron Rodgers turned a short screen pass into a 40-yard gain to set up the field goal.

It was sweet redemption for Crosby, whose 33-yard, game-winning field goal as time expired erased a nightmare performance at Ford Field last season, when he missed four field goals and an extra point attempt.  Crosby made 32- and 40-yard field goals Sunday and narrowly missed a 51-yarder.

Head coach Matt LaFleur said the team started out flat in every phase, but the defense kept the Packers in the game until the offense found a way to win it.

“That was a tough game, man,” he said.  “That’s life in the National Football League.

“I know there’s a lot to clean up, but those guys (the defense) battled for four quarters and left everything out there.  They did a great job when we needed them to and made the plays.”

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