The Packers’ regular season ended the way it started: with a hard lesson.
Green Bay was humbled and blown out in the 2021 season opener by the New Orleans Saints in Florida, 38-3. Seventeen weeks later, the Packers were humbled in the finale by a scrappy Detroit Lions team with nothing left to play for, 37-30, at Ford Field Sunday.
Head coach Matt La Fleur’s team had nothing to gain in the league standings with the NFC No. 1 seed secured last week, but the team was bolstered by the return of All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari and rookie center Josh Meyers.
Green Bay, 13-4, now can rest up, prepare, and watch on Wild Card Weekend for the team to emerge that they host in divisional play at Lambeau Field, where the Packers are a perfect 8-0 this season.
“It was great to get a couple guys back,” La Fleur said in his post-game press conference. “But no matter who’s out there, the expectations don’t change. You know, we’re about winning with the Green Bay Packers. We’ll never just celebrate the effort. We have to win and we’ll never accept losing and that’s just the mindset. . . I think our team has done a great job in—you know, previous losses of bouncing bad from them and that’s what I expect from our guys.”
Detroit pulled out all stops and caught the Packers defense out of position on two trick reverses that resulted in 75- and 36-yard touchdown passes. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams played in the first half, which Detroit led 17-13 at halftime. Rodgers sewed up his second straight league MVP, most likely, by completing 14 of 18 passes for 138 yards and two touchdown tosses to Allen Lazard.
Adams continued his stellar season, catching six passes for 55 yards and set Packers single-season receiving records with 126 receptions and 1,553 yards.
The Packers’ secondary couldn’t contain Detroit’s rookie standout Amon-Ra St. Brown. With his father in the stands wearing a split NFL jersey (half Packers, half Lions), Amon-Ra out-performed his older brother, Equanimeous, on this day with eight receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed once for 12 yards and set Detroit’s rookie season records with 90 catches for 912 yards.
“This kid is—I mean, he’s better than gold,” raved Lions head coach Dan Campbell in his post-game press conference.
With 21 seconds remaining in a one-score game, Walker sealed it with Detroit’s third take-a-way. With blitzing linebacker Julian Okwara in his face, Love’s desperation pass was high and behind the intended target, St. Brown, and the Detroit free safety made a diving interception.
“It was big. . . ,” Campbell said. “Come down to the wire there and our guys make a play when we needed it.” Walker III finished as the game’s leading tackler with nine total, including five solo.
Riley Patterson, kicker, Lions. Kicker Riley Patterson was also a difference-maker in the game, making all three of his field goals (33, 36, 27) and booting four extra points to total 13 in the 37-30 victory.