The Green Bay Packers are Kings of the North
For the fourth straight season, Aaron Rodgers has led the Green Bay Packers to a NFC North Division title.
Now the Packers have the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs, and an opportunity to get Rodgers' calf healthy for Green Bay's first playoff game in two weeks at Lambeau Field.
Clay Matthews and the Packers' defense forced a three-and-out on Detroit's first possession. Then Eddie Lacy and James Starks powered the Packers offense down the field into the red zone. However, Green Bay couldn't find the end zone on fourth and goal. Detroit got the ball, but had to punt. Micah Hyde returned the Lions' punt 55-yards for a touchdown to get Packers on the board, 7-0.
With 2:24 left in the first quarter, Green Bay added to its score, as Rodgers threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb to put Packers up 14-0. But on his throw, Rodgers fell and was hurt. He was down on the turf of Lambeau Field. All of the Packers' faithful gasped as they watched Rodgers get helped off the field and later carted into the locker room.
Detroit got on the scoreboard with 24 seconds left after a soft roughing the passer penalty gave the Lions a first down. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson hooked up for a 20-touchdown.
The Packers got the ball first in the second half, but Matt Flynn and Green Bay went three-and-out. Detroit got the ball and tied the game at 14 with another Stafford touchdown pass to Johnson.
Wait, though. After the Lions stopped the Packers on third down, Rodgers stood in the tunnel and then came and walked back out to the field. Lambeau Field erupted. He walked around the sideline, tossed passes to Jordy Nelson and tugged on a man's red beard for good luck. Rodgers came back out after the Lions tied it at 14.
It was definitely Rodgers' way of telling Packers fans to R-E-L-A-X.
He guided the Packers on a seven play, 60-yard drive lasting about four minutes and resulting in another touchdown pass to Cobb. At the end of the three quarters, Green Bay led 21-14.
After Rodgers re-aggravated his calf injury, he completed 11 of 13 passes for the Packers.
With 8:45 to go in the fourth quarter, Rodgers ran into the end zone for one-yard to give the Packers a two score lead. Green Bay looked to be in control of the game.
With about two and a half minutes, a penalty was enforced on Stafford in the end zone and a safety was given to the Packers. The Lions, however, recovered a wild onside kick on the next possession. Then Stafford marched Detroit down the field and found Theo Riddick for six points and a touchdown. The Lions were down 10 with 1:45 to go in the final quarter.
The only controversy late was when Ndamukong Suh stepped on Rodgers twice. The second step looked intentional. After Suh stepped on Rodgers, the Packers star quarterback gave the Lions defensive lineman a push back.
In the end, it was too little, too late for the Lions, and they lost their 23rd straight game at Lambeau Field. The Packers were NFC North champions and Rodgers received "M-V-P" chants from all around Lambeau Field with a 'Willis Reed' type performance while playing hurt.
Rodgers was 17 of 22 for 226 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 139.6 quarterback rating. Lacy ran the ball 26 times for 100 yards. Green Bay finished the regular season 8-0 at home. At home in 2014, Rodgers threw 25 touchdowns, zero interceptions and rushed for one score for the Packers. All in all, Rodgers finished the 2014 regular season by completing 65.6 percent of his passes for 4,381 yards, 38 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also had a 112.2 quarterback rating for the Packers.
Green Bay is off for two weeks and will play on Dec. 11 again in the NFC Divisional round of the playoffs.
**Listen to Jeff Thurn's interview with Anthony Becht from earlier last week on Overtime, as the two of them talk about the Packers and its chances in the playoffs.
Sam Tastad will have pre-and-post game report for the Packers all season long. Follow him on Twitter @samtastad and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.