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Win at Detroit has Packers right where they want to be

Fast start on offense, total control to begin second half keyed victory over Lions

Packers TE Marcedes Lewis (89), C Elgton Jenkins (74) and RB Aaron Jones (33) congratulate WR Davante Adams (17) on a 56-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter of Green Bay's 31-24 victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020.
Packers TE Marcedes Lewis (89), C Elgton Jenkins (74) and RB Aaron Jones (33) congratulate WR Davante Adams (17) on a 56-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter of Green Bay's 31-24 victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020.

The NFC North title is secure and the No. 1 seed for the playoffs is there for the taking.

That's what the Packers accomplished Sunday with their 31-24 victory over Detroit at Ford Field while getting help elsewhere in the conference, as both the division-rival Vikings and previously top-seeded Saints lost.

At 10-3, the Packers have their second straight division crown and the current top spot in the NFC thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker over New Orleans, with three games to go in the regular season.

"We're going to enjoy it for one night and then we're going to get back to work because there's a lot out in front of us," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said.

The Packers downed the Lions with a fast start on offense and a dominant stretch to open the second half.

Davante Adams turned a back-shoulder throw into a 56-yard touchdown – his career-best 14th on the season and a team record-breaker, his eighth straight game with a score – and Marquez Valdes-Scantling snared his own back-shoulder TD with an iron grip against tight coverage in the end zone to end the Packers' first two possessions.

The 14-7 lead became a 14-all tie at halftime, and then Green Bay took control.

Beginning the second half with a monstrous 14-play, 75-yard drive that consumed 8:49 on the clock, the Packers grabbed the lead for good on Aaron Rodgers' 6-yard scramble run to paydirt.

Then, after a quick three-and-out from the defense, the Packers kept command with a 12-play, 79-yard drive that took 7:49 and was capped by a 4-yard TD pass to tight end Robert Tonyan, his ninth score on the season.

"To our guys' credit, they stayed patient," LaFleur said of the grinding drives, which also required the offense to overcome two holding penalties. "We're always trying to hunt for explosives but they didn't necessarily come to us. It takes a lot of discipline, especially from our quarterback being able to take whatever's there. Our guys just stuck with it play after play."

LaFleur called those drives "demoralizing" for Detroit's defense, while Rodgers admitted he got tired but referred to them as the turning point in the game. The Packers had a 28-14 lead, their first two-score advantage of the day, with 12 minutes left and the Lions had run just three offensive plays in the first 18 minutes of the second half.

"That's when you're playing downhill," said Rodgers, who had another ultra-efficient game going 26-of-33 for 290 yards with three TDs for a 133.6 passer rating. He also engineered an 8-of-11 conversion rate on third down.


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Adams finished with seven catches for 115 yards, while Valdes-Scantling bounced back from two quiet games following his overtime fumble in Indy to catch six passes for 85 yards. Running backs Aaron Jones (15 carries, 69 yards) and Jamaal Williams (10-38) combined for 107 yards on the ground.

Detroit got back in it with a flag-filled drive against Green Bay's defense, scoring on a Kerryon Johnson TD to make it 28-21 with 6:30 left.

The Packers then drove to the Detroit 34-yard line and brought out Mason Crosby for a 52-yard field goal to go back up by two scores. But a false start forced a big decision to be made with 3:30 to go.

LaFleur said the pregame conversation pegged Crosby's range at about 55 yards, with the deepest line of scrimmage the 37. The penalty put the ball between the 39 and 40, and LaFleur turned to Crosby on the sideline.

"I looked at him, I was like, '40-yard line. Hey, can you hit it?'" said LaFleur, who received an affirmative nod from the veteran kicker. "And he did."

The 57-yarder tied the second-longest in franchise history (Crosby now owns the eight longest field goals in the team's record book), and the confidence in him never wavered.

"I thought he was going to make it and that was going to be basically for the win," Rodgers said.

The Green Bay Packers faced the Detroit Lions in a Week 14 matchup at Ford Field on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020.

It should have been, but the Packers' 31-21 lead didn't last long, as Detroit's Jamal Agnew ran the ensuing kickoff back 71 yards, with Crosby knocking him out of bounds to save a touchdown at the Green Bay 33.

Lions QB Matthew Stafford (24-of-34, 244 yards, one TD, 100.6 rating) had been sacked four times in the first half and then took a big hit from Kenny Clark on a scramble on Detroit's previous TD drive, forcing him to leave the game with injured ribs. Backup Chase Daniel took over, getting a field goal with 1:49 left.

That left the Packers to recover an onside kick – which they didn't need to do when the ball didn't go 10 yards – and then get one first down to close it out. A third-down bootleg pass to Tonyan sealed the deal, and the team's seventh division title in the last 10 years.

"You know, it's never easy," LaFleur said. "It's never perfect in this league. But our guys stick together, they battle. We knew it was going to be a four-quarter battle."