The Lions ended the season strong with a 35-11 rout of the Packers
The Packers started this game aggressively with a surprise onside opening kickoff, which they recovered. Detroit’s defense was able to make up for the early special teams error though, as rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis intercepted Green Bay quarterback Brett Hundley nine plays later.
Shortly after that, each team put together a field goal drive and the first quarter ended with the game tied at three.
Score: Tied at 3
The Lions first possession of the second quarter proved to be fruitful when quarterback Matthew Stafford connected with rookie receiver Kenny Golladay on a 54 yard touchdown pass down the middle of the field.
The Lions quickly got the ball back and again were able to put up a touchdown, this time when Stafford found receiver Marvin Jones in the end zone on a fade route for a three yard touchdown.
Detroit’s offense wasn’t done yet though. They were able to advance the ball into field goal range and scored on Matt Praters second field goal of the game to take a three possession halftime lead.
Score: Lions lead 20-3
Things really started to slow down for both teams in the third quarter as all of the first five possessions of the second half ended in punts. Ironically, the only score in this quarter came on a one play Lions possession when Stafford found receiver Golden Tate behind the Green Bay defense for a 71 yard touchdown.
Score: Lions lead 27-3
Green Bay’s offense finally answered on their first drive of the fourth quarter. Brett Hundley found receiver Randall Cobb for a 17 yard touchdown, then again for a two point conversion to make the score 27-11.
The Lions were not going to let this game tighten up though. Kenny Golladay made a fantastic toe-tapping 26 yard sideline reception to set up a seven yard touchdown run from runningback Ameer Abdullah. Detroit then converted a two point conversion with a trick play that ended with Golden Tate completing a pass to Matthew Stafford in the end zone.
Brett Hundley threw an interception to Lions corner Darius Slay on the ensuing drive and both teams seemed content to let the season end after that.
Score: Lions win 35-11
Green Bay’s passing stats: 20/32 for 153 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, 63.7 quarterback rating
The Packers had three different players throw passes against the Lions, and none of them had success. The Lions secondary completely shut down the passing game on Sunday.
The Lions defense made 4 sacks
The Detroit defensive line made their presence felt in this game, which has been a rarity this season. Defensive end Ziggy Ansah made three sacks and the defensive line combined for 11 hits on Brett Hundley.
Detroit won the turnover battle 4 to 0
The Packers lost two fumbles and threw two interceptions in this game, while the Lions never turned the ball over. As any NFL coach will tell you, that is the key to success in the NFL.
The Lions out-gained Green Bay 356 to 256 total yards
The Lions put up exactly 100 more yards on offense than the Packers and that is usually a very good sign. In this game, the yardage differential was reflected in the score.
Detroit only ran for 51 yards at 2.2 yards per attempt
The Lions running woes continued as none of their running backs could consistently gain any yardage.
Matthew Stafford finished the game 20/29 for 323 yards, 3 touchdowns and a 140.4 passer rating
Matthew Stafford played an excellent last game of the season. In terms of quarterback rating, it was his best game of the season and second best game of his career.
The Lions passing game was very explosive
Matthew Stafford and receivers Marvin Jones, Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay were superb on Sunday. Each of those receivers caught one pass of more than 50 yards and each got one touchdown. Matthew Stafford was throwing lasers and these guys were catching just about anything that was thrown their way.
This play is Marvin Jones’ 56 yard reception. Detroit uses a double fake on this play, with Stafford faking the hand off to the running back, then faking the reverse to Golladay who was in motion. Green Bay’s defense bit on these fakes, leaving Marvin Jones in one on one coverage running a post route down the field. Stafford threw an absolutely perfect pass and Jones was able to haul it in for a huge gain.
Here is Kenny Golladay’s 54 yard touchdown catch. This is play showed really good route running from Golladay. He recognized that the Packers were playing a cover two defense, and found the soft spot between the safeties and behind the linebackers. Golladay was easily able to make the wide open reception, then shrugged off Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix on his way into the end zone.
Finally, here is Stafford’s 71 yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate. Again, the Packers linebackers bit on the play action, leaving Golden Tate wide open on a corner route. Tate made the uncontested catch and quickly turned down field, he was able to outrace everybody to the end zone. This was great usage of the play action pass by the Lions offense.
The defense made big plays
The Lions defense had one of their best games of the season as a whole. The defensive line was doing their job (four sacks and numerous other pressures/quarterback hits), the linebackers did a good job of containing the run (Green Bay averaged 3.8 yards per run) and the secondary was sticky in coverage on the Packer receivers (six passes defended, two interceptions).
This play is a fumble that the Lions defense forced from Brett Hundley. Hundley had scrambled for a first down on this play but instead of sliding, was going for more yards. Lions safety Glover Quin realized this and did a fantastic job of punching the ball loose from Hundley’s grasp (Quin’s third forced fumble on the season). Linebacker Tahir Whitehead was there to pick up the football and suddenly it was Lions ball.
Here is one of three sacks from Ziggy Ansah on Sunday. On this play, Ansah really showed great athleticism, similar to early in his career. The Lions ran a defensive line stunt, where Ansah started the play on the outside but quickly cut to the middle, found a gap between the Packers offensive lineman and closed in fast for the sack. This is really an encouraging sign from Ansah, he looked to be at full health for the first time in a while towards the end of this season.
The Lions had no semblance of a running game
In Jim Caldwell’s last game as the Lions head coach, he did not get his first 100 yard rusher. He didn’t even get halfway there. The Lions leading ball carrier on Sunday was Tion Green, who managed 21 yards rushing on nine carries. Behind him, Ameer Abdullah had 18 yards on eight carries and Theo Riddick 10 yards on four.
This was a bad performance from the backs and the offensive line. The line could not open up running lanes with any consistency and the backs failed to grind out yards on the rare occasion when the lanes were there. Fixing the running game has to be near the top of the list of priories for the Lions this off season.
Player Of The Game
Ziggy Ansah is this week’s player of the game. In possibly his last game as a Detroit Lion, he made four tackles, three sacks and five quarterback hits. He was a menace to Green Bay quarterback Brett Hundley all day and had arguably his best game since Thanksgiving of 2015.
With Ansah’s strong end to the season, he has likely played himself into a position where Lions general manager Bob Quinn will use the franchise tag to make sure he returns to Detroit for at least one more season. If Quinn doesn’t, Ansah will receive a large contract from another team in free agency.