DETROIT, Mich. (WFRV) – Heading into the final week of the NFL regular season, 13 of the 14 playoff seeds between the NFC and AFC were still up in the air.
For the Packers, however, this Sunday represented one last tune-up before what Green & Gold fans hope is a lengthy playoff run.
The NFC’s No. 1 seed played its starters for the better part of the first half and let the backups ride the rest of the way in a 37-30 loss to the Detroit Lions Sunday afternoon.
The Packers (13-4) will now have a playoff bye week before hosting the NFC Divisional Round on the weekend of January 22-23.
Green Bay’s starters got the ball rolling on the opening drive, scoring a touchdown in the first quarter for the first time since November 28. Aaron Rodgers tossed his 36th touchdown of an MVP campaign, finding Allen Lazard for the one-yard score.
But after attempting a fake punt on their opening drive, the Lions weren’t done reaching into the bag of tricks. On a double-reverse play, wide receiver Tom Kennedy lofted a perfect pass to Kalif Raymond, who raced 75 yards untouched for the score.
It was the longest touchdown pass by a non-quarterback in the NFL since 2003.
On Detroit’s next drive, rookie receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown took over with four catches for 48 yards and a touchdown on the five-minute, 44-second march.
Green Bay had an answer on the following possession, and it came with a bit of history. On the third play of the drive, Rodgers hit Davante Adams for 16 yards over the middle, giving Adams the new Packers single-season record for receiving yards. The snag broke Jordy Nelson’s mark of 1,519 yards in 2014.
Rodgers capped the drive with a play action strike to Lazard for 29 yards, drawing the score within 14-13 after a missed extra point. The Lions extended their lead to 17-13 on a field goal just before the half expired.
Rodgers finished his day in the first half, going 14-of-18 for 138 yards and two touchdowns in the final outing to wrap up his likely fourth MVP campaign.
On the Packers’ first offensive drive of the second half, Juwann Winfree fumbled a screen pass to set the Lions up in Green Bay territory. It only took one play for the home team to extend its lead – another trick play, this time a double-reverse flea flicker pass from Jared Goff to Brock Wright for a 36-yard touchdown.
The Packers responded with a field goal, and Jordan Love led his first touchdown at the end of the third quarter. Running back Patrick Taylor punched in his first career score in the opening moments of the fourth quarter, slicing the deficit to 24-22.
After another Lions field goal, Love hit his first big splash play. Detroit blitzed and the quarterback checked down to his safety valve, setting up Josiah Deguara to race 62 yards untouched for the go-ahead score. Love scrambled in for the two-point conversion to give the Packers a 30-27 lead.
But once again, Goff and St. Brown had an answer for the Lions. The pair marched the offense down the field to set up D’Andre Swift for a 17-yard touchdown, grabbing a 34-30 lead with 1:54 remaining.
With three timeouts to work with to drive the length of the field, Love fired to Amari Rodgers on a second down slant, but Rodgers bobbled the catch and dropped it right into the arms of C.J. Moore for a Detroit interception.
The Lions turned it into a field goal and a 37-30 lead, giving Love the ball back with 48 seconds and a timeout to work with.
Rodgers, however, burned seven seconds off the clock on the kick return, taking the ball out of the end zone to the 22-yard line.
After a near-completion deep over the middle on first down, Love hit Equanimeous St. Brown for a chunk play on second before overthrowing a deep ball on the next play, getting picked off by Tracy Walker to seal the win for the Lions.
Green Bay lost the turnover battle 3-0, marking the first time since Week 1 the Packers have lost a turnover battle by more than two.
Green Bay entered the game as the No. 1 team in the NFL in turnover margin.
The result squandered a pair of opportunities for the Packers’ young quarterback to lead a game-winning drive, but in terms of the NFC standings, the loss was inconsequential for the top-seeded Green & Gold.
The Pack will take next weekend off and watch the Wild Card round of the playoffs unfold. Green Bay has home field advantage at Lambeau for the duration of the playoffs and will host the lowest remaining seed on either Saturday, January 22, or Sunday, January 23.