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Detroit at Green Bay

Packers rally past Lions, take control of NFC North

CBSSports.com wire reports
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- This Green Bay victory was big enough to be felt all the way to Chicago.

Mike Daniels returned a fumble 43 yards, and DaJuan Harris and Aaron Rodgers ran for touchdowns in the second half as the Packers moved within one victory of the NFC North title with their 27-20 victory against the Detroit Lions on Sunday night.

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Beat the Bears next weekend at Soldier Field, and Green Bay wins the division.

"We're first in the division by a game and we put ourselves in good position, not only for the division but potentially for a first-round bye. The division is our first goal," Rodgers said. "We can wrap things up next week. It's a tough opponent, a tough place to play. There's a lot on the line."

Rodgers' 27-yard scoring run was the longest of his career and Green Bay's longest of the season. He was 14 of 24 for 173 yards, though he failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 36 games at Lambeau Field.

Calvin Johnson had 118 yards receiving to put him over 1,500 for the year, but it wasn't enough to keep the Lions (4-9) from dropping their fifth straight. After touchdowns on their first two drives gave them a 14-0 lead, the Lions could only manage a pair of field goals by Jason Hanson.

This was the third consecutive game they've blown a lead of 10-plus points, tying an NFL record shared by six other teams.

"We've been in every single game this year. But being in games doesn't mean [anything] in this league," said Matthew Stafford, whose fumble in the second-quarter helped spark Green Bay's comeback. "It's about getting wins and we understand that as a locker room and as a team.

"It's tough when the ball isn't going your way," he added. "But we're not helping it go our way. We're doing it to ourselves as well."

The Packers have won 22 straight at home against the Lions, the longest streak in the NFL. The streak, which includes a playoff game, dates all the way back to 1992 -- when Green Bay was still playing some of its home games in Milwaukee.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy likes to say all division games are big, but this one got even bigger when Chicago lost to Minnesota earlier in the day.

Packers-Bears is perhaps the NFL's greatest rivalry, with fans and players alike taking it personal. (Curly Lambeau and George Halas refused to even shake hands after their games.) The games are heated when they're played in September, and a December matchup with the division title on the line only elevates the drama.

"I'm focused on going to Chicago and winning the division," McCarthy said. "We put ourselves in position to get to 10 wins. We really don't look around until we get to 10 wins because double-digit wins is when things really start to fall in place for your football team. Ten wins will give us the division championship and that's what we're focused on."

While beating the Lions may have seemed like the easy leg in Green Bay's road to the division crown, the Packers came out sluggish and quickly found themselves trailing 14-0. But they were re-energized by Daniels' fumble recovery.

The season's first significant storm dumped almost 3.5 inches of snow on Green Bay, making Lambeau Field look like a snow globe for most of the night. As Stafford drew his arm back to throw midway through the second quarter, the ball slipped out of his hands.

"That was a big play. We had all the momentum," Stafford said. "I don't really have much of an explanation for it. I wish I could have gotten on top of it. It squirted away from me again."

And Daniels was right there to scoop it up, rumbling nearly half the length of the field for the score that pulled Green Bay within 14-10. Daniels is Green Bay's first rookie defensive lineman to return a fumble for a TD since 1941.

"Mike Daniels' play was the momentum shift for us that we needed," McCarthy said. "That was a big play."

He needs some work on his Lambeau Leap, however, getting only about halfway up the wall.

"I was too tired," Daniels said.

Hey, Rodgers wasn't much better.

Still trailing in the third, Rodgers was trying to find someone -- anyone -- to throw to on third-and-4. With Lions defensive end Willie Young closing in, Rodgers scrambled away and found a hole on the right side. He ran untouched down the sideline, holding the ball out as he crossed the goal line.

The 27-yard touchdown was the longest scoring run of his career, and the Packers' longest this season.

"For him to score from that distance speaks volumes about his athletic ability," McCarthy said. "He's our guy, he's our ace, it's built around him and he played well again tonight."

So did Green Bay's running backs. Inconsistency and injuries have kept the Packers from finding a groove on the ground this season, and they had to bring back veteran Ryan Grant earlier this week just to give them some depth.

But they might have found a formula that worked. They rushed for 140 yards, 98 of it coming in the second half, and their entire go-ahead drive was on the ground.

Alex Green rushed for 29 yards on the first four plays, then Grant broke off a 13-yard gain.

Then it was Harris' turn. Elevated from the practice squad just eight days ago, his 5-yard gain put the Packers at the Detroit 14. He strolled in untouched on the next play, giving the Packers a 24-17 lead.

"It was poor defense," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "We had a chance to go out and get a stop, and they just ran the ball down our throats."

The Lions pulled within a score on Hanson's 34-yard field goal with seven seconds left. But the onside kick went out of bounds, and the countdown to Chicago was on.

"That's something we look forward to," receiver Randall Cobb said. "Just to know that we're on the brink of accomplishing it is big, and we're just trying to find a way to make sure we accomplish it next week."

Notes

  • The Packers scored twice on the ground for the first time since Dec. 11, 2011. The two TDs almost doubled their total for the season, giving them five touchdowns on the ground.
  • Rodgers failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 36 games at Lambeau Field.
  • Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew did not return for the second half after injuring his ankle.
  • Green Bay is 13-1 against Detroit under McCarthy.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Ricardo Silva is too late to prevent Aaron Rodgers from scoring on a 27-yard run, which gives Green Bay a brief 17-14 lead.  (AP)
Ricardo Silva is too late to prevent Aaron Rodgers from scoring on a 27-yard run, which gives Green Bay a brief 17-14 lead. (AP)

 

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Sun. Dec. 9Final
Detroit
(4-9)
773320
01071027
LionsPackers
Pass: M. Stafford (27-45, 264) A. Rodgers (14-24, 173)
Rush: J. Bell (12-49) A. Green (13-69)
Rec: C. Johnson (10-118) R. Cobb (7-102)
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
TDMatthew Stafford runs for 4 yards (Jason Hanson kick is good). Drive: 12 plays, 80 yards in 7:44.
2ND QUARTER
TDTony Scheffler catches a 3 yard pass from Matthew Stafford (Jason Hanson kick is good). Drive: 11 plays, 79 yards in 5:48.
FGMason Crosby makes a 49 yard kick. Drive: 6 plays, 31 yards in 1:55.
TDMike Daniels makes a 43 yard fumble return (Mason Crosby kick is good).
3RD QUARTER
TDAaron Rodgers runs for 27 yards (Mason Crosby kick is good). Drive: 8 plays, 74 yards in 3:06.
FGJason Hanson makes a 46 yard kick. Drive: 7 plays, 45 yards in 2:57.
4TH QUARTER
TDDuJuan Harris runs for 14 yards (Mason Crosby kick is good). Drive: 7 plays, 59 yards in 4:04.
FGMason Crosby makes a 41 yard kick. Drive: 7 plays, 40 yards in 3:09.
FGJason Hanson makes a 34 yard kick. Drive: 8 plays, 63 yards in 1:52.
Players of the Game
Green Bay

A. Rodgers
Att 24
Comp 14
Yds 173
TD 0
Detroit

M. Stafford
Att 45
Comp 27
Yds 264
TD 1
 
Detroit
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
M. Stafford27/4526411
RushingATTYDSTDLG
J. Bell1249013
M. Leshoure144909
M. Thomas225022
M. Stafford3916
S. Logan1303
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
C. Johnson10118020
K. Durham454027
J. Bell547015
W. Heller42108
T. Scheffler320113
S. Logan1404
Green Bay
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
A. Rodgers14/2417300
RushingATTYDSTDLG
A. Green1369012
A. Rodgers332127
D. Harris731114
R. Grant113013
J. Kuhn1-50-5
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
R. Cobb7102038
J. Jones227016
G. Jennings127027
J. Finley21609
J. Boykin1404
A. Green1-30-3
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
DEN 26 Final
OAK 13
STL 15 Final
BUF 12
ATL 20 Final
CAR 30
DAL 20 Final
CIN 19
KC 7 Final
CLE 30
TEN 23 Final
IND 27
NYJ 17 Final
JAC 10
CHI 14 Final
MIN 21
SD 34 Final
PIT 24
PHI 23 Final
TB 21
BAL 28 Final
WAS 31
MIA 13 Final
SF 27
NO 27 Final
NYG 52
ARI 0 Final
SEA 58
HOU 14 Final
NE 42