History of the Matchup: Detroit Lions Hope to Swing NFC North Standings in Green Bay

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The Green Bay Packers return from their week off to host the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on Monday Night Football. These two NFC North rivals will be facing off for the 176th time. The Packers hold a large lead in the series overall and are riding a three game win streak against the Lions. Things have been looking bleak for both teams with the Packers losing each game since the injury to star quarterback Aaron Rodgers while the Lions look to avoid falling to 3-5. The Lions look to gain ground on the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North standings with a road win over the Packers in week nine.

History of the Matchup: Detroit Lions Hope to Swing NFC North Standings in Green Bay

Early History

The Lions were first established in Portsmouth, Ohio before the 1930 season. The games were quite competitive at first as the, then Portsmouth Spartans went undefeated at home against the Packers while in Ohio. After moving to Detroit in 1934, the Lions won their first game against the Packers which took place in Wisconsin. After that road victory, the Lions were dominated over the rest of coach Curly Lambeau‘s tenure. They had plenty of luck during the 1950s. At one point the Lions won 11 straight games against the Packers, the largest streak of wins for either team.

Things changed quickly for the Packers the second legendary head coach Vince Lombardi walked in the building. The Packers would win the majority of the matchups throughout the 60s, but the rivalry would be much closer over the next two decades. The meetings in the 90s featured perhaps the best teams either franchise has ever assembled. The Lions were led by Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders who dominated the Packers over the course of his career. And then there’s Brett Favre who came to Green Bay in 1992 and would go on to compile a 25-9 record against the Lions over the course of his career.

Today’s Teams

The Packers have taken advantage of a Lions franchise that has been floundering since Sanders retired in 1998. More recently the matchups have been high scoring affairs led by Pro Bowl quarterbacks Rodgers and Matthew Stafford. The Lions have been able to steal a few wins here and there but the Packers don’t seem to be letting the Lions gain any ground in the all-time series between these clubs.

Most Pivotal Victory

There are several games in consideration for most pivotal victory over the Lions. With these teams meeting in the final week of the regular season with regularity, several matchups have decided the NFC North champion. The Miracle in Motown hail marry to Richard Rodgers immediately comes to mind as well. The most was on the line for both teams in their first ever playoff meeting, though. After the Lions defeated the Packers in Detroit to secure an NFC North title, the Packers went right back to the Motor City for the wild card round. Favre and Sanders highlighted a back and forth game that came down to the wire.

Defense Gets on the Board

After a Lions field goal in the first, Favre hit Sterling Sharpe for a 12-yard touchdown. Quarterback Erik Kramer matched the score with a touchdown pass of his own. The third quarter seemed to turn in the Lions favor as Mel Jenkins picked off Favre and returned the interception for a score to extend the lead 17-7. As he showed time and again during his career, Favre was never rattled.

He drove the Packers down the field and threw his second touchdown to Sharpe to cut into the Lion’s lead. After getting his team back in the red zone with the help of a productive day from Sanders, Kramer threw an interception to George Teague in the end zone. Teague returned the pick 101 yards for the touchdown, marking a pick-six for both sides and putting the Packers out in front.

Favre Works his Magic

A tightly knit game in the fourth quarter, it was backup running back Derrick Moore, not the Hall-of-Fame Sanders that plunged in from five yards out for the game’s third lead change. Sanders compiled 169 yards on the ground in an attempt to ice the game by running out the clock. Favre was ready for a classic moment though. He found who else but his favorite target Sharpe on a 40-yard bomb with just 55 seconds remaining in the game. The Pack would go on to win the game and deal the Lions their first ever playoff loss at home.

Last Meeting

NFC North on the Line

The Packers and Lions faced each other in week 17 of last season in Detroit. The game was for the NFC North crown but both teams had already secured a playoff spot before the game even kicked off. That said, the game was rather competitive as both teams sought a home playoff game. The first quarter was slow with both defenses flexing early.  Both Rodgers and Stafford took control from there and turned this one into a shootout.

Both teams tried to establish the run in the first quarter but it was clear the better passing team would emerge victorious. After a Lions missed field goal to start the second, Rodgers led his team down the field and opened the scoring with a pass to fullback Aaron Ripkowski. After two long scoring drives by Stafford, Rodgers executed a perfect two-minute drill that culminated in a 53-yard field goal by Mason Crosby.

Young Wideouts Step Up in Second Half

The second half was almost a spitting image of the first. A slow third quarter ended with a short touchdown pass from Rodgers to Davante Adams. With wide receiver Randall Cobb sidelined for the game, the Packers got significant production out of their other young receivers. Undrafted rookie Geronimo Allison made an instant impact. He posted several big catches on his way to 91 yards and a touchdown to extend the Packers lead to ten in the fourth. After a booming 54-yarder by kicker Matt Prater, the Lions defense could simply not get off the field. Rodgers drove down and connected with Adams for his second touchdown catch of the day.

After converting the two-point conversation to Adams, the Packers led by 14 with just under five minutes remaining. Stafford went right back to work, converting long gains to Eric Ebron and Golden Tate to get the Lions in the red zone. The Packers were able to do what the Lions weren’t. Micah Hyde came up with a huge interception to seal the game with two minutes remaining. Rodgers and Stafford combined for a whopping 80 passes and 647 yards. The Packers got one final stop and were crowned NFC North champions for their fifth time in six years.

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