Lions find a way, beat Packers 7-3
DETROIT -- All season, well actually for many seasons, the Lions have talked about how they were one play away from a win.
On Sunday, the football gods smiled on the struggling Lions franchise. Detroit quarterback Drew Stanton threw a pair of interceptions, half-a-dozen flags were thrown the Lions way and they punted eight times, but no questionable flags were thrown. When the Lions needed the big play they made it on both sides of the ball.
Let that digest, because this is all new for Lions fans.
In one of the ugliest NFL games you might ever witness, the Lions beat the Green Bay Packers 7-3 in front of a sold-out Ford Field crowd on Sunday.
It was a huge win in many ways. It snapped the Lions’ five-game losing streak, ended the Packers’ streak of 10 straight wins against Detroit and, here’s a big one, the Lions had not beaten a division opponent for 19 straight games.
“Well that wasn’t pretty, but it was beautiful,’’ Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “We didn’t expect a pitchers’ duel today but that’s what we ended up (with).’’
The defense played its most consistent game of the season. They held the Packers scoreless while starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers was in. After he left with a concussion, they only allowed a 42-yard field goal.
The biggest defensive play was with 1:03 left when the Packers went for it on fourth-and-one from the Detroit 31.
Backup quarterback Matt Flynn found Greg Jennings in the end zone in single coverage and heaved the ball in his direction. But with good coverage from Detroit cornerback Nathan Vasher, it was incomplete.
“I just had to come up and make a play, so it felt really good,’’ Vasher said.
He knew a flag had not been thrown because he could see the referee standing right there.
“It was fourth-and-1 and obviously you want to take away a short pass and you want to challenge guys, you want your corners to play with some confidence and challenge them and make a quarterback make a low percentage completion in that case,’’ Schwartz said. “That’s a low percentage when you try to throw a deep corner route against tight coverage. You have the potential to give up the big play but you also have the potential for it to be along foul ball and that’s what we saw.’’
That was the key play in the game, the play that often the opponent would have found a way to make work, but not on Sunday.
It was scoreless at the half and the offense had really struggled, but still they
“We have been in situations like that it seems like throughout the season, feeling really good about ourselves at half-time then coming out and basically kind of laying an egg a little bit,’’ Vasher said.
“Guys were looking at each other eye to eye, we were saying to each other we’re going to finish out the game and 10 minutes left in the game, eight minutes, two minutes we were basically talking about the situations and stuff. I think that’s something we can build on,’’ Vasher added.
Lions quarterback Drew Stanton, in his second straight start, looked horrid in the first three quarters and he knew it.
“Everybody was there watching that, it was a struggle at first, it was a struggle for me to find my rhythm, and as a quarterback you have to keep grinding, keep working through it and find ways,’’ Stanton said.
He was 10 of 22 for 117 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown.
But all they needed was that one touchdown, a 13-year tight end screen pass to Will Heller midway through the fourth quarter.
“I was a little surprised, ended up in the end zone and was still registering what happened,’’ Heller said. “It was fun and it’s good to help get a win for sure.’’
The Lions had called that same play last week to Brandon Pettigrew against the Bears and it didn’t work.
Stanton, who was known for his scrambling ability at Michigan State, got his first win using his running ability. He carried four times for 44 yards including a
“At times I might have gotten a little greedy doing stuff and trying to do other things, I had to reel it in and play to my strengths,’’ Stanton said.
The plan was to run the ball which it often is, but on Sunday they had success with it finishing with a season-high 190 rushing yards from seven different players. Maurice Morris was tops with 11 carries for 51 yards while rookie Jahvid Best
“You have to take your hat off to the defense they played unbelievable, they answered the bell every single time,’’ Stanton said.
The Packers, who had won five of their last six, finished with just 66 rushing yards and 223 passing.
For the Lions, it’s a win. Ugly does not matter.
“Any way you can get a win, that’s all it’s about. Whether it’s a blowout, like we’ve done before, or it’s a tough dogfight like we just went through,’’ said Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
(Paula Pasche covers the Lions. Follow her on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Read her Lions Lowdown blog at oplions.blogspot.com.)