Say hello to your NFC North divisional winner and your current top seed in the NFC playoff race – the Green Bay Packers. Coupled with the Minnesota Vikings losing earlier in the day on the road to the Tampa Bay Vikings, the 31-24 victory over the Detroit Lions was what helped sew up the divisional crown for the Packers.
Led by Aaron Rodgers’ MVP resurgence campaign, the team survived another shaky defensive performance and costly penalties to get to 10 wins on the season. Their win earlier in the year over the New Orleans Saints on the road gives them the tiebreaker over NO, as the Saints now have the same record as GB after their loss to the Eagles.
Detroit got the ball first to start the game and proceeded to drive down the length of the field in 11 plays, capped off by a short TD connection from Matthew Stafford to TJ Hockenson.
Green Bay went out and immediately matched Detroit’s score to open the game, as it only took three plays to get into the end zone – and shocker, it was Davante Adams.
Adams took a pass from Rodgers to the house for 56 yards, breaking away from his man and outrunning the DET secondary on his way to setting a franchise record for eight consecutive games with a TD catch.
Green Bay’s defense forced a three-and-out for Detroit on the next possession, and the Packers drove down the field after the punt and put up their second TD of the day, capping the drive in the beginning stages of the second quarter on a 14-yard TD catch by Marquez Valdes-Scantling on a beautiful strong-handed reception.
These two teams traded punts on each of their next possessions, with rookie running back D’Andre Swift finishing the drive with a three-yard rushing score.
Green Bay was forced into a punt after a 52-second drive, giving the Lions one final chance at putting points up on the board before going into half time. With the Lions driving, two sacks (one each by Darnell Savage and Kenny Clark) forced Detroit to use up their timeouts and ultimately led to the clock running out with no points being put up.
Green Bay received the ball out of half, and took it 14 plays down the field for the first score of the second half. When the play broke down on a 3rd & Goal situation from the six-yard wing, Rodgers scrambled to his left and took it himself into the end zone, putting GB up 21-14.
A three-and-out by the Lions preceded another GB scoring drive, as the Packers took another double-digit drive down the field and put up a TD, as Rodgers connected with tight end Robert Tonyan for a four-yard score that ended up being the fifth play of the fourth quarter.
Down two scores, the Lions put together a 5+ minute scoring drive to get right back into the game, finished by Kerryon Johnson on the ground, cashing in from two yards out.
Needing to eat up some clock and hopefully come away with some points, the Packers drove down the field and took their time, eating exactly three minutes of time on their final scoring drive of the game.
Rodgers helped get this team into field goal range, and even with a false start penalty by Elgton Jenkins moving the ball back, old man Mason Crosby was able to cash in and knock a 57-yard field goal through with some room to spare, putting Green Bay up 31-21.
Detroit, needing to make up the 10-point deficit, drove down the field and had Matt Prater knock through a field goal to bring it back to being a one-score game. The ensuing onside kick, which required a replay review to confirm that the kick went out of bounds, favored the Packers, and they earned a first down, forcing the Lions to use their two remaining timeouts, but to no avail.
Rodgers helped initiate the victory formation, helping lead this team to their tenth W of the year. Hosting the Carolina Panthers, who may have Christian McCaffrey back, on Saturday will be another important testament of keeping hold of the NFC’s top seed, which is the only seed that earns a postseason bye in the first round.뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23