Lions falter in second half in loss to Packers

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After leading by four at halftime, the Detroit Lions (9-7) couldn’t make enough stops on defense in the second half, eventually falling 31-24 to the Green Bay Packers (10-6) at Ford Field Sunday night.

With the loss, the Lions failed to win the NFC North, which would have been their first division title since 1993. But they did earn a playoff berth, as the New York Giants defeated the Washington Redskins earlier Sunday. Detroit will open up the playoffs by traveling to Seattle as a wild card team.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford did all he could to help the team win the game, finishing with 347 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Stafford broke a streak of 118 straight passes without a touchdown when he connected with Golden Tate on a 3-yard pass that gave the Lions a 14-7 lead with 23 seconds before halftime. Stafford and the Lions offense will need to have a similar performance next week on the road against Seattle’s stout passing defense.

Detroit’s running game got off to a fast start once again, allowing Zach Zenner to rush for 63 yards and a touchdown in the first half. However, the second half was a different story, as Zenner was only able to rush for six yards. Zenner has emerged as the Lions’ top rushing threat, but he has struggled to put together a complete game, which is something he’ll need to work on as the playoffs get underway next week.

Lions receivers had an all-around good day, as Tate, Anquan Boldin and Marvin Jones combined for 15 catches, 210 yards and two touchdowns. The trio performed well, but so did tight end Eric Ebron, who caught six passes for 61 yards, including a tough 7-yard catch that set the Lions up for their first touchdown of the game.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers played, well, like Aaron Rodgers, and he torched the Lions, finishing the game with 300 yards and four touchdowns. Detroit’s defense had a hard time containing him, as he ran for 42 yards on 10 carries. Rodgers extended plays, causing Lions cornerbacks to have to cover for longer periods of time.

Green Bay isn’t known for their run game, but the Packers were able to run the ball effectively against the Lions. Aaron Ripkowski, Ty Montgomery and Aaron Rodgers combined for 147 rushing yards. The Packers’ rushing game opened up the passing game by forcing the Lions to bring more people into the box, which created more one-on-one coverage.

Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison gave Detroit’s secondary a lot of problems. The trio combined for 16 catches, 188 yards and three touchdowns. Allison benefited from Rodgers’ ability to escape Detroit’s pressure, as his touchdown came after eight seconds of scrambling. The Lions’ secondary didn’t play that poorly if you take into the account the amount of time they had to cover. Detroit’s defensive line could’ve helped the secondary out by making more tackles on Rodgers instead of allowing him to escape the constant pressure.

Detroit may have lost the division, but they don’t have time to pout. They will travel to Seattle next Saturday to take on the Seahawks in the NFC Wild Card game at CenturyLink Field at 8:15 p.m. on NBC.