Packers turn Lions into Lambeau lambs … againThe Lions extended their own NFL record for consecutive road losses against one opponent to 22 and clinched last place in the NFC North one season after making the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.
By: By Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, Superior Telegram
GREEN BAY, Wis. — It was there for the taking. Again.
But like they have most every Sunday this year — and for the last 21 seasons in Green Bay — the Lions couldn't make the plays they needed to.
Matthew Stafford let a fumble slip out of his hands when he cocked his arm back to pass. Nick Fairley poked a ball loose, but no Lion was around to recover. And when the Lions needed a defensive stop, they gave up big play after big play, mostly on the ground.
The Packers ran for 140 yards in snowy conditions and kept the ball on the ground for all seven plays in their go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown drive to beat the Lions for the second time this year, 27-20, at Lambeau Field.
The Lions extended their own NFL record for consecutive road losses against one opponent to 22 and clinched last place in the NFC North one season after making the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.
At 4-9 and losers of five straight, they're tied for the worst record in the NFC with the Panthers, Eagles and next week's opponent the Cardinals.
The Packers (9-4) took over sole possession of first place in the division with their second straight victory and a Bears loss to the Vikings earlier Sunday.
The Lions dominated play for most of the first half, advancing into Green Bay territory on their first four possessions and holding the ball for nearly 23 of the game's first 30 minutes.
But the Packers scored 10 straight points to open the fourth quarter after trading missed field goals earlier in the second half.
DuJuan Harris scored his first career touchdown on a 14-yard run to give the Packers a 24-17 lead with 10:45 to play, capping a seven-play, 59-yard drive in which Green Bay stayed exclusively on the ground. Harris carried on the final two plays of the drive, and the recently-signed Ryan Grant had a 13-yard run on his only carry of the game.
The Lions stalled near midfield on the ensuing drive, and the Packers tacked on a field goal on their next possession. Aaron Rodgers, who completed just 14 of 24 passes for 173 yards in the game, threw a 38-yard bullet to Randall Cobb between three defenders on third-and-11 to keep the drive alive.
Cobb caught seven passes and tied a season-high with 102 yards for the Packers.
Calvin Johnson finished with 10 catches for 118 yards and stayed on pace to break Jerry Rice's single-season receiving record for the Lions.
Johnson needs to average 100.3 yards over the final three games to top Rice's mark of 1,848 yards set in 1995. He passed 1,500 yards for the season Sunday and joined Marvin Harrison and Andre Johnson as the only players in NFL history to reach that milestone.
The Lions opened the game with a 12-play, 80-yard drive, scoring on Stafford's 3-yard bootleg on fourth-and-inches. Stafford faked a dive to Mikel Leshoure, who was stopped for no gain on the previous play, and ran by an unsuspecting Frank Zombo for his fourth touchdown of the year.
Rodgers drove the Packers inside the Lions' 15-yard line on the ensuing possession, but Lawrence Jackson sacked him from behind, jarring the ball loose, and Stephen Tulloch recovered.
Stafford followed with an 11-play, 79-yard drive, with the Lions leaning heavily on Joique Bell during the possession. Bell carried five times for 25 yards on the drive, and Kris Durham, in his first game and start as a Lion, made a diving one-handed catch to put the Lions in scoring range.
Bell followed with a 3-yard gain, and Stafford threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Tony Scheffler on a well-designed pick play.
The Packers answered with a 49-yard Mason Crosby field goal, then forced turnovers on the Lions' next two possessions.
Stafford lost a fumble when the ball slipped out of his hand near midfield that Green Bay's Mike Daniels returned 43 yards for a touchdown, and on the next possession he underthrew Durham, his former teammate at Georgia, when it appeared that Durham ran the wrong route.
The Lions had 117 of their 135 rushing yards in the first half, but took primarily to the air in the final two quarters. They had just six 100-yard rushing games the first six weeks.
Stafford finished 27 of 45 passing for 264 yards. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew, the Lions' second-leading receiver, left with an ankle injury in the first quarter.
Daniels' touchdown was the eighth non-defensive score the Lions have allowed this year. They allowed four special-teams touchdowns in back-to-back September losses, have given up two interception-return touchdowns and had a fumble returned for a score in a loss at Tennessee.
Copyright (c)2012 Detroit Free Press/Distributed by MCT Information Services