Packers win NFC North title, 31-24 over Lions

QB Aaron Rodgers throws four TD passes


DETROIT – Two impressive fourth-quarter drives powered the Packers to a 31-24 victory over the Lions on Sunday night at Ford Field, winning the NFC North title and securing a home game in the first round of the playoffs.

The division championship is Green Bay's fifth in the last six seasons, and the Packers will host the New York Giants in a wild-card game next Sunday at 3:40 p.m. CT at Lambeau Field.

QB Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to their sixth straight victory to end the regular season by completing 27-of-39 passes for 300 yards with four touchdowns and a 126.0 passer rating. Rookie WR Geronimo Allison caught four passes for 91 yards and a score, while WR Jordy Nelson had six receptions for 66 yards, TE Jared Cook caught four passes for 45 yards, and WR Davante Adams had six catches for 31 yards and two TDs.

On the ground, FB Aaron Ripkowski carried nine times for 61 yards (with a TD reception), while RB Ty Montgomery added eight carries for 44. Rodgers had 42 rushing yards on ten runs.

For the Lions, QB Matthew Stafford was 26-of-41 for 347 yards with two TDs and one interception for a 96.3 rating. RB Zach Zenner had 69 yards on 20 carries. WR Golden Tate caught six passes for 77 yards and a score, with WR Marvin Jones adding five receptions for 76 yards.

Here's a quarter-by-quarter recap of the action.

Fourth quarter:

With the Packers depleted at cornerback – Quinten Rollins (neck), Damarious Randall (knee) and Makinton Dorleant (knee) were all out of the game – they began the fourth quarter deploying safeties Morgan Burnett and Kentrell Brice as slot corners, with LaDarius Gunter and Micah Hyde as the boundary corners.

The defense got a stop to start the period, though, as Stafford threw high on back-to-back passes to force a punt.

On Green Bay's ensuing drive, Rodgers scrambled for a first down and then hit WR Geronimo Allison for 31 yards to get across midfield. A 15-yard pass to TE Jared Cook moved the chains again to the Detroit 22, and an 11-yard pass to WR Jordy Nelson got the ball halfway home.

Then on third-and-9 from the 10, Rodgers scrambled around and found Allison in the back of the end zone for the diving TD catch. K Mason Crosby's PAT missed wide right, though, and the Packers led 23-14 with 10:02 left.

The Lions came right back with a 5-yard pass to WR Golden Tate and a 23-yard pass to WR Marvin Jones to get to the Green Bay 36. The Packers' defense got the stop there, with help of pass breakups by DT Kenny Clark and Gunter, and K Matt Prater was good from 54  yards out to get the Lions within 23-17 with 7:42 left.

The Packers' next drive began with a 7-yard run by RB Ty Montgomery. Rodgers then picked up 13 and a first down on a zone-read bootleg around the left side. A defensive holding penalty on the Lions gave the Packers another first down just across midfield.

A 12-man penalty on the Lions made it third-and-5 from the 43, and Rodgers hit Montgomery in the flat for a 9-yard gain to move the chains. Montgomery than ran 9 yards to the Detroit 25, and he powered up the middle for 4 more yards for a first down on the 21. The Packers called a timeout with 3:03 left as the play clock was running down.

A 5-yard pass to Nelson and a 7-yard run by Montgomery made it first-and-goal on the 9 as Detroit used its second timeout with 2:54 left. Rodgers then lofted a TD pass to Adams, his second score of the night and Rodgers' 40th TD pass of the season. Rodgers hit Adams for a two-point pass, and the Packers led, 31-17, with 2:50 left.

Packers DB Micah Hyde intercepted Stafford at the goal line with 1:30 to go as Detroit tried to climb within one score.

The Lions got it back again, and Stafford hit WR Anquan Boldin for a 35-yard touchdown with 13 seconds left.

TE Richard Rodgers recovered the onside kick for the Packers.

Third quarter:

The Packers scored to open the second half and took a 17-14 lead over the Lions into the fourth quarter on Sunday night at Ford Field.

The Packers started the third quarter with a promising drive. Passes of 7 yards to WR Davante Adams and 11 yards to WR Geronimo Allison picked up two first downs. QB Aaron Rodgers scrambled for another first down, and a 20-yard pass to WR Jordy Nelson got the ball into the red zone.

A quick slant to Nelson picked up 16 more to make it first-and-goal on the 3, and Rodgers found WR Davante Adams for the touchdown. K Mason Crosby's extra point gave the Packers a 17-14 lead with 9:23 left in the quarter.

The Lions got one first down on their next drive with a run and reception by RB Zach Zenner, but Packers LB Nick Perry sacked QB Matthew Stafford on third down on the ensuing series, and the Lions had to punt. It was Perry's 11th sack of the season, and his third in the last two weeks with the bulky club protecting his injured hand.

The Packers picked up two first downs on their next drive, with FB Aaron Ripkowski running for 5 yards and RB Ty Montgomery gaining 11, but a false start penalty led to a punt. P Jake Schum hit a beauty that was downed at the Detroit 5.

The Lions got out of the hole with a 30-yard pass to WR Marvin Jones down the sideline, and Packers CB Quinten Rollins was injured on the play and carted to the locker room after a lengthy delay to stabilize him on a backboard. Several Packers players gathered near the cart kneeling while Rollins was being attended to.

Second quarter:

Two touchdown drives by the Lions in the second quarter gave them a 14-10 halftime lead over the Packers on Sunday night at Ford Field.

The second quarter began with Lions K Matt Prater pulling a 39-yard field goal attempt wide left. The Packers took over on their own 29.

The Packers got moving on their next drive. QB Aaron Rodgers pulled off a nifty escape move on third down and hit TE Jared Cook for 11 yards to move the chains. Cook caught the next pass for 24, and then fellow TE Richard Rodgers made a tackler miss on a 14-yard catch-and-run into the red zone. A defensive holding call on the Lions made it first-and-goal on the 9.

On second down, Rodgers found FB Aaron Ripkowski open over the middle for a 7-yard TD. Ripkowski also had three carries for 15 yards on the drive.

The Lions came right back, overcoming a sack by LB Blake Martinez to hit a 35-yard pass to WR T.J. Jones on third-and-15. Runs by WR Golden Tate and RB Zach Zenner picked up 20 more for a first down at the Green Bay 14. An offside penalty on DE Datone Jones preceded a 7-yard pass to TE Eric Ebron to make it first-and-goal on the 2.

On third-and-goal from the 1, Zenner plowed in for the TD, and Prater's extra point tied the score at 7 with 5:00 left in the half.

The Packers were plagued by penalties on their next drive, three in all (with two declined), and a poor 28-yard punt by P Jake Schum went out of bounds on the Detroit 31.

The Packers had a prime opportunity for a turnover, but LB Clay Matthews dropped Stafford's pass over the middle, and Stafford immediately hit WR Anquan Boldin for 11 yards and a first down across midfield. A screen to Zenner against a blitz picked up 14 more. Zenner then converted on third-and-1 with a 6-yard run for a first down at the Green Bay 18, and the Lions called timeout with 37 seconds left.

Passes of 5 yards to WR Marvin Jones and 10 yards to Boldin made it first-and-goal on the 3, with Detroit calling its last timeout with 26 seconds to go. The TD pass was thrown to Tate on a pick play on the right side, and the Lions took a 14-7 lead.

Rodgers came back with a 39-yard pass to rookie WR Geronimo Allison to the Detroit 41. A 6-yard pass to Cook got the ball to the 35 with 6 seconds left, and an incomplete pass took the clock down to 3 seconds. K Mason Crosby was good from 53 yards out on the final play to get the Packers within 14-10, Crosby's longest kick of the season.

First quarter:

The Lions were driving as the first quarter ended scoreless on Sunday night at Ford Field.

The Packers' defense opened the game with a three-and-out, as LB Joe Thomas had WR Golden Tate tightly covered on third-and-4 on the first series.

Green Bay's offense managed one first down, as FB Aaron Ripkowski ran for 10 yards on third-and-1, but Ripkowski missed a blitz pickup on Lions S Tavon Wilson, leading to a sack and a punt on the next series.

The Lions got a first down on a 13-yard pass to TE Eric Ebron, but on the ensuing third down, QB Matt Stafford was off target for Tate, who was open deep down the sideline, and Detroit punted again.

Ripkowski got the Packers another first down, this time with a 15-yard run, but then RB Ty Montgomery appeared to go the wrong way on a screen pass, wrecking the next third down, and the Packers had to punt again.

The Lions got moving on their third possession. A 9-yard pass to WR Marvin Jones and a pair of 17-yard connections with Tate got Detroit into scoring range. Tate was then called for offensive pass interference against CB Quinten Rollins, and on third-and-15, a screen to Tate picked up 11, ending the quarter with the Lions facing fourth-and-4 from the Green Bay 20.

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