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'It's all about winning one game'

Recent history full of Packers-Lions finales with high stakes

QB Aaron Rodgers
QB Aaron Rodgers

GREEN BAY – The Packers haven't played a win-to-get-in game in a regular-season finale in nine years.

The last one was at Soldier Field in 2013, when Aaron Rodgers returned from a broken collarbone and Randall Cobb came back from a broken leg to be the fourth-down heroes and knock off the Bears to win the NFC North title.

The division crown isn't in the picture this time, but the Packers' 2022 season is no less on the line, as it has been since the calendar turned to December.

"It's all about winning one game," Cobb said "We feel like we've been in the playoffs for the past two or three weeks now and we found a way to win football games in different ways.

"It's not about running the table at this point. We gotta find a way to get into the playoffs. We're still not there."

Standing in their way Sunday night are the Lions, who may or may not be playing for a playoff spot themselves depending on the result of Seattle's game earlier in the day.

The Packers and Lions have plenty of recent history when it comes to high-stakes regular-season finales. None would match the drama if the Seahawks were to lose and make Sunday night's game all-or-nothing for both teams.

But there was still a lot riding on those games, so here's a trip down memory lane.

Dec. 28, 2014, at Lambeau Field: Packers 30, Lions 20

Both teams were in the playoffs, but the NFC North title and No. 2 seed, with the first-round bye and home game that came with it, were on the line, while the loser would be hitting the road as a wild card.

The Packers were in command early, thanks to a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown by Micah Hyde, and a 4-yard TD pass to Randall Cobb. But on the short scoring throw, QB Aaron Rodgers re-aggravated a calf injury from the previous week at Tampa Bay and headed to the locker room.

With Rodgers out, the Lions erased the 14-0 deficit on a pair of TD passes to Calvin Johnson on either side of halftime. But before Detroit scored the second time, Rodgers emerged from the tunnel to boisterous chants of "M-V-P! M-V-P!" and re-entered the game.

He hit Cobb for 29 yards on his first pass, finished that drive with a 13-yard TD to Cobb, and the Packers weren't really threatened again. Rodgers even surprised everyone by running a QB sneak for a TD from the 1-yard line despite the bad calf, and he wrapped up his second league MVP award as the Packers earned a postseason week off.

Jan. 1, 2017, at Ford Field: Packers 31, Lions 24

The 2016 regular-season finale was setting up as a win-to-get-in game for both teams in primetime, with the NFC North championship potentially the only available playoff spot.

But in the late-afternoon window, Washington lost at home to the Giants, putting both the Packers and Lions into the postseason. It was just a question of who would win the division to get the No. 4 seed, and who would be a wild card at No. 6.

The game went back and forth, with the Packers leading 7-0, the Lions moving in front 14-7, and the Packers getting within 14-10 on a 53-yard field goal by Mason Crosby at the halftime buzzer.

Green Bay's offense took control in the second half, though, putting together three long touchdown drives covering 75, 81 and 75 yards. Davante Adams caught two of the three TD passes, as Rodgers finished with four in the game and the Packers led 31-17 before the Lions scored again late.

Dec. 29, 2019, at Ford Field: Packers 23, Lions 20

Detroit was out of the playoff chase, but Green Bay was in and had plenty to play for as Matt LaFleur's first season as head coach was winding down. The Packers needed a win to get the NFC's No. 2 seed and first-round bye, but the Lions didn't make it easy.

With backup David Blough playing quarterback, Detroit took a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter and led 17-3 at the half. The Packers got back in it on a 20-yard TD pass to Adams late in the third quarter to cap a 12-play, 95-yard drive. Then Blake Martinez's interception preceded Allen Lazard's 28-yard TD reception on third-and-10 with just over five minutes left to tie the game at 20.

From there, Green Bay's defense forced two punts sandwiched around a Rodgers interception, and the Packers got one last shot from their own 17-yard line with 1:20 on the clock and two timeouts.

With 45 seconds left and the ball near midfield, Aaron Jones took a screen pass 31 yards into field-goal range, setting up Crosby to walk it off from 33 yards out.

Which brings us to …

Jan. 8, 2023, at Lambeau Field: Packers vs. Lions

The stakes for the Lions are TBD. For the Packers, no wondering necessary.

"All year we've been fighting … to get this chance," defensive lineman Kenny Clark said. "The ball's in our court. We win we're in. That's all you can ask for."

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