Home Win Streak Vs. Detroit Has Featured Close Battles


Packers TE Jermichael Finley caught his first NFL touchdown pass in last year's home victory over Detroit.

It's one of those statistical anomalies in sports that, when you get right down to it, defies a valid explanation.

The Green Bay Packers have won 18 consecutive games against the Detroit Lions in the state of Wisconsin. That run, which began in 1992, consists of two games in Milwaukee (in 1993 and 1994) and 16 at Lambeau Field, including one playoff contest following the '94 season.

It's the second-longest active home winning streak over one opponent in the league, but the top one - even though it also involves Detroit - actually seems more understandable. The Lions have lost 21 straight games at Washington (including three postseason contests), spanning the entire history of their franchise.

But the Lions and Redskins don't play each other every year, which makes a streak like that all the more random. Sure, it's odd, but there's no regularity to when the teams play one another. That streak started in 1939, and five times there has been a gap of five years or more between Lions-Redskins meetings in Washington (a 12-year gap from 1956 to 1968 being the longest). The two teams have played just once this decade, in 2007.

The Lions and Packers as division rivals, however, play every year in the state of Wisconsin, making both teams intimately familiar with one another and a streak like that all the more difficult to maintain. So far it spans seven head coaches in Detroit, four in Green Bay. The Packers will try to add an eighth Detroit head coach, newcomer Jim Schwartz, to the list on Sunday.

The secret?

"No clue," said veteran Aaron Kampman, who has been with the Packers for the last seven victories in the streak. "But hopefully we can continue it."

"I'm not a big stat guy anyway," added nose tackle Ryan Pickett, who admitted he wasn't even aware of the history. "But we're going to try to make it 19."

As dominant as 18 straight home wins over Detroit sounds, however, it's not as though Green Bay has dominated every game. Sure, the Packers have enjoyed a handful of blowouts, but 11 of the 18 contests in the streak have been decided by 10 points or less.

The Lions have had their share of leads that got away, and comebacks that fell short. Their last win in Wisconsin came on Dec. 15, 1991, by a score of 21-17 at Lambeau Field. In 18-below-zero windchills, the Packers led 10-7 after three quarters, but the Lions scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns, one on a 78-yard punt return by Mel Gray.

It would stand to reason in the parity-driven NFL that another close game between these two in Wisconsin would have gone Detroit's way. Will the law of averages come into play this year? The Packers aren't concerned about that in the least.

"I know what's happened in the past," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "But it really doesn't have anything to do with this game."

The Lions would have loved nothing more than for the streak to end last year. In the season finale, while trying to avoid going 0-16, they rallied to within 24-21 in the fourth quarter before a 71-yard TD pass from Aaron Rodgers to Donald Driver put the game away for the Packers.

"I know we had a few close games there, but I think it's just learning how to win, period, around here," veteran Detroit center Dominic Raiola said of the streak. "We're starting to do that. I don't think it's one specific area or one specific place like Lambeau."

If it is, that's all the better for Green Bay. But regardless, the Packers are preparing for another close, hard-fought game from an improved and different-looking Lions squad. Last year's game was one of the 11 decided by 10 points or less. Here's a brief look at the other 10, in reverse chronological order, with the final score in parentheses:

Dec. 17, 2006 (17-9): A Lions field goal makes it 10-9 with 9:33 left in the game, but the Packers counter with a 12-play, 78-yard drive for a touchdown, capped by Vernand Morency's 21-yard run. The Packers then record two sacks on Detroit's final drive.

Dec. 11, 2005 (16-13 OT): Perhaps the oddest of the games during the streak. The Packers trailed 13-3 after one quarter but rallied to tie it and then used a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter to keep it tied. Detroit QB Jeff Garcia was stuffed on a fourth-and-goal sneak from the 1. Green Bay took over and somehow avoided a safety on a crazy play. RB Samkon Gado was caught in the end zone and shoved the ball forward in a last-ditch attempt to pass the ball before he went down. With the Lions feeling Gado should have been ruled down or called for intentional grounding in the end zone, either of which would result in a safety, the officials ruled that Gado was outside the pocket and therefore eligible to throw the ball away. The incomplete-pass call kept the game tied, the Packers won the coin toss for overtime, and immediately drove down the field for the winning kick.

{sportsad300}Dec. 12, 2004 (16-13): In snow flurries and whipping winds, Detroit QB Joey Harrington completes just 5-of-22 passes for 47 yards on the day, and Green Bay QB Brett Favre is just as dismal in the first half, completing 3-of-15 for 28 yards as the Packers trailed 13-0. But Favre comes back to go 16-of-21 for 160 yards, including a TD to Driver, in the second half. He also leads the offense to three field goals, the last one with 2 seconds left to win the game.

Nov. 21, 1999 (26-17): Detroit led 17-12 at halftime but the Packers controlled the second half, scoring 14 points and pitching a shutout that included two interceptions.

Nov. 2, 1997 (20-10): An interception return for a touchdown by Green Bay's Darren Sharper broke a 7-all tie in the second quarter. It was one of four interceptions for Detroit QB Scott Mitchell on the day.

Nov. 3, 1996 (28-18): Detroit led 10-7 in the second quarter, but even 152 rushing yards from Barry Sanders and a former Green Bay QB in Don Majkowski weren't enough. The Packers scored 21 unanswered points, all on TD passes by Favre, who had four TD throws in the game.

Oct. 15, 1995 (30-21): Detroit punted on six of seven possessions in the first half and fell behind 27-7. But the Lions rallied to get within 27-21 in the fourth quarter before an 11-play Green Bay drive for a field goal midway through the fourth quarter sealed the win.

Dec. 31, 1994 - NFC Wild Card playoff (16-12): Making playoff history, the Packers defense held Sanders to minus-1 yard on 13 carries. Still, Detroit pulled within 13-10 early in the fourth on a TD pass from Dave Krieg to Brett Perriman. It took a late field goal and an intentional safety to hold on.

Nov. 6, 1994 - at Milwaukee (38-30): The Packers rolled to a 31-7 lead at halftime, with the Lions' lone score coming on a 91-yard kickoff return by Gray. But Krieg, a Wisconsin native, led a furious comeback with three touchdown passes (two to Herman Moore) and a pair of two-point conversions to get the Lions within one score. Krieg then drove Detroit to the Green Bay 15-yard line with 1:06 left, only to be sacked on third down by Sean Jones and see his fourth-down pass into the end zone broken up by Doug Evans.

Nov. 21, 1993 - at Milwaukee (26-17): Detroit led 17-16 after three quarters, but the Packers kicked a field goal to take the lead. Then LeRoy Butler intercepted Rodney Peete, the Detroit QB's only interception of the day, to set up the clinching touchdown.

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