This is a loss that could come back to haunt the Green Bay Packers in December.
After digging a 24-0 hole in the first half, the Packers’ second-half comeback fell short in an ugly game Aaron Rodgers and Mason Crosby would like to simply forget.
The Ford Field scoreboard read 31-23 at the final gun, leaving 2-2-1 Green Bay tied with Minnesota for second place in the NFC North division behind idle 3-1 Chicago. Detroit improved to 2-3 and tightened up the division race.
“We just couldn’t overcome all the things we did wrong,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said.
There was a multitude of issues:
Three turnovers, all fumbles—including two by Rodgers on strip-sacks.
Five missed kicks by Crosby—four field goals and an extra point.
12 penalties for 112 yards.
“We’ve been a one-half team all year,” said Rodgers, who led a second-half comeback and finished with 32 completions in 52 attempts for 443 yards and three touchdowns. “We need to do something about that.”
Crosby had a nightmare of a game—the worst of his career at any level—but did make a final 41-yard field goal with two seconds remaining to make it a one-score game. His ensuing onside kick was recovered by Detroit.
The 12-year-veteran, who was embraced by Rodgers as he walked off the field Sunday, called it an “anomaly in life.”
“I don’t get this much attention unless it’s really bad or extremely good,” he told reporters after the game. “This one unfortunately was really bad and going to have to really look at this one. This one hurts a bunch
“Left a lot of points on the field for this team. Disappointed in my performance.”
Like their four previous games, it was a tale of two halves for the Packers.
The first 30 minutes was a nightmare for Green Bay, and it began with a Sam Martin’s punt early in the first quarter.
Officials ruled it glanced off Packers cornerback Kevin King, who was blocking on the play. The ball was recovered by the Lions’ Jamal Agnew at the Green Bay 1-yard line and Detroit began its first-half scoring spree with a touchdown run by LeGarrette Blount on the next play.
Blount had another 1-yard touchdown run late in the quarter to make it 14-0, and the Lions added 10 second-quarter points on a 39-yard field goal after a Rodgers’ fumble and a 8-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to Jones.
The 24-0 halftime lead was too much to overcome, but Rodgers and the offense came alive with an aerial attack led by receiver Davante Adams.
Playing on an injured calf, Adams stepped up with the second-best performance of his career with nine receptions for 140 yards and a touchdown.
With Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison out, Adams teamed with rookies Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown. While the trio struggled at times to get open for Rodgers in the first half, Adams won his individual match-up with Darius Slay and produced 88 yards in the second half to ignite Green Bay’s comeback.
With the Packers defense holding the Lions scoreless in the third quarter, the offense scored 14 points on Rodgers’ short touchdown passes to Valdes-Scantling and tight end Lance Kendricks to make it 24-14.
In the fourth quarter Stafford increased the margin to 31-14 with a 5-yard scoring pass to Golladay before Green Bay responded with Adams’ 12-yard touchdown reception (kick failed) and Crosby’s field goal in the final seconds.
Defensive end Romeo Okwara, plucked off waivers by Detroit on September 5 to improve its pass rush, had a monster game.
He applied consistent pressure on Rodgers throughout the game, including a strip sack late in the first quarter that led to a Lions’ field goal. He contributed two sacks, three quarterback hits, a tackle for loss, three total tackles, and a forced fumble in the Detroit victory.
“We’ve just got to find ways to get it done earlier in the game,” Adams said. “Then we don’t have to worry about trying to be heroes at the end.”
The Packers host the San Francisco 49ers next Monday before entering a much-needed bye week.