Lions struggle against defending champs
DETROIT – Aaron Rodgers took every hit the Detroit Lions could dish out.
He just kept throwing – and winning.
Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and the Green Bay Packers built a big lead in the third quarter thanks in part to Ndamukong Suh’s ejection during a 27-15 victory in Detroit on Thursday.
Detroit’s best chance to beat the Packers was to knock Rodgers out of the game, just as it did last year in a victory that started a nine-game winning streak.
The Lions gave that tactic a shot, hitting him even if he had already gotten rid of the ball. Kyle Vanden Bosch was flagged for one of those late hits and could’ve drawn another penalty for trying to rough up the quarterback later in the drive.
Rodgers refused to be rattled, kept his cool and won — again.
“We try to rise above things like that,” Rodgers said. “We knew in a rivalry game, there are going to be a lot of hard hits, but we kept things between the whistles.”
The defending champion Packers are 11-0 for the first time in franchise history and have won a team-record 17 straight, including the playoffs.
“I don’t feel any pressure, this is a good place to be,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “Who doesn’t want to be 11-0?”
Green Bay easily passed what was expected to be one of its toughest tests toward joining the 2007 New England Patriots as the NFL’s only teams to have 16-0 regular seasons.
“We’re a long way from there,” Rodgers said. “This is a big step toward our first goal, which is winning the division. If we are undefeated after 14 or 15 games, we’ll talk about 16.”
While the Packers are working on perfection, Detroit (7-4) has to figure out a way to avoid the physical and mental mistakes that have put the team on the playoff bubble after a 5-0 start.
The Lions have lost a franchise-record eight consecutive Thanksgiving games and added to their misery in ugly fashion.
“It really does ruin the holiday,” center Dominic Raiola said. “You put so much into this and to go out there and lay an egg like that, it’s disappointing. My day’s ruined.”
Suh’s day might lead to another fine — and possibly a suspension.
He was tossed for stomping on Evan Dietrich-Smith’s right arm in the third quarter.
The Packers took advantage of Suh’s misstep just as they did on Matthew Stafford’s three interceptions.
John Kuhn followed nose tackle B.J. Raji for a 1-yard TD plunge after Suh was flagged on third down, and Green Bay turned Stafford’s interceptions into two TDs and a field goal.
Detroit became the NFL’s first team to win three games in a season after trailing by 17 points with Sunday’s comeback win over Carolina, but the Packers proved they weren’t as vulnerable as the Panthers.
The Lions finally scored when Keiland Williams ran for a 16-yard TD with 13:11 left and added the 2-point conversion on a pass from Stafford to Titus Young that trimmed Green Bay’s lead to 16. They scored a meaningless TD on Stafford’s 3-yard pass to Calvin Johnson with 11 seconds left.
Detroit had raised expectations for a competitive game during its annual showcase after losing the last seven games by three-plus TDs on average.
The Lions kept it close early — in a punt- and penalty-filled first half — then simply couldn’t keep up with Rodgers’ passing attack and failed to stay disciplined.
A game that was scoreless for the first 25 minutes turned into a 24-0 lead for Green Bay late in the third.
“You have to keep your composure,” Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson said. “In big games, you need your best players there.
“They broke and we took advantage of it.”
Green Bay’s winning streak, including its run in the 2010 playoffs, equals the streak the Oakland Raiders had during the 1976-77 seasons.
New England won 18 straight during the 2007 season only to lose to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
Indianapolis and New Orleans were the last teams to start a season 11-0, pulling off the feat two years ago.
“We know we have something special, 12-0 is our goal,” Pickett said. “And if 16-0 is there when we get there we’ll embrace that.”
GB—G.Jennings 3 pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick)
GB—Kuhn 1 run (Crosby kick)
GB—J.Jones 65 pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick),
GB—FG Crosby 35
Det—K.Williams 16 run (T.Young pass from Stafford)
GB—FG Crosby 32
Det—Johnson 3 pass from Stafford (Hanson kick)
|Total Net Yards||349||409|
|Time of Possession||29:12||30:48|
RUSHING—Green Bay, Grant 6-20, Starks 4-19, Saine 2-10, Kuhn 5-5, Rodgers 1-(minus 1). Detroit, Morris 7-39, K.Smith 7-36, Stafford 4-31, K.Williams 2-19, Burleson 1-11.
PASSING—Green Bay, Rodgers 22-32-0-307. Detroit, Stafford 32-45-3-276.
RECEIVING—Green Bay, G.Jennings 5-74, Nelson 4-26, J.Jones 3-94, Grant 3-20, Finley 2-38, Cobb 2-21, Driver 1-15, Kuhn 1-10, Saine 1-9. Detroit, Morris 9-81, Burleson 5-39, Johnson 4-49, K.Williams 4-33, Pettigrew 4-27, K.Smith 3-21, Scheffler 2-13, T.Young 1-13.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Detroit, Hanson 47 (WL).
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