Green Bay Packers Waste Strong Defensive Effort vs. Lions

The Green Bay Packers stifled the Detroit Lions for most of Sunday's game but one big play was a key in Sunday's outcome.

For 57 minutes on Sunday, the Green Bay Packers’ defense did all it could to secure a win.

The only touchdown it surrendered came on a drive that started at the 1-yard line following a 104-yard kickoff return by Detroit rookie Ameer Abdullah to open the second half. The Packers stymied a late-third-quarter drive, when safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix intercepted a Matt Stafford pass at the Packers’ six-yard line, and they shut down Detroit’s running game, holding them to just 45 yards and 1.7 yards per carry.

But on a day when the once-potent Packers offense was a barely recognizable version of itself, the margin for error was slim. A momentary defensive lapse in that final 3 minutes was all Detroit would need to win 18-16.

On third-and-3 at the Packers’ 48-yard line with 2:42 remaining, Stafford beat a six-man blitz and hit receiver Golden Tate on a short pass over the middle. Tate bounced off one Packers defender and hopped away from another as he sprinted for the end zone. Rookie cornerback Damarious Randall chased him down and made a touchdown-saving tackle at the 5.

Randall’s late-game heroics against San Diego secured a Packers win when he knocked away a potential Philip Rivers touchdown. A week ago in Carolina, his fourth-quarter interception gave Green Bay a chance to tie the game. This looked like another big-time stop to add to the list.

“I’m just playing with a lot more confidence and everything is slowing down for me,” Randall said.

But two plays later, Stafford stayed away from Randall and found Lance Moore on a quick slant in front of cornerback Casey Hayward to put Detroit up 18-10. Matt Prater missed his second extra point of the game to give Green Bay a chance to tie.

Green Bay drove down the field in eight plays, scoring on Aaron Rodgers' pass to Justin Perillo  that pulled Green Bay to within two points, but the two-point conversion throw to Davante Adams was pulled away by Detroit cornerback Crezdon Butler, just elevated from the practice squad the day before.

The Packers followed with an onside kick that went through the hands of Detroit’s Calvin Johnson in Brandon Bostick-esque fashion, finding its way into the arms of Randall, who gave his team another last-gasp chance at victory.

But the usually reliable Mason Crosby kicked his worst ball of the season six plays later, a low, tumbling line drive that come up well short and wide right from 52 yards out.

“I thought for sure we were going to drive down and win the game,” Randall said, giving less of a hint of disappointment than expected. “But that’s football. Things happen. We just need to get ready for next week.

“Overall, defensively I think we played great. If we can play like that for the rest of the season, I don’t think we’ll lose too many more games. We know that we’ve got a brotherhood in here and everybody’s sticking together and we’re just looking forward to next week. We won six in a row. Now we just lost three. I think it’s only a matter of time before we bounce back and reel off some more wins. That’s just the NFL and we’re just going to get ready for next week, watch the film and correct the mistakes and keep on moving forward.”

Not everyone on defense was as "glass half full" as Randall following the loss.

“It was terrible,” linebacker Nate Palmer said. “To come so close … to fight, scratch and claw to put ourselves in a position to win a game and ugh. I don’t even know how to describe the feeling right now. I’m at a loss for words.”

For all the things the defense did right against a Lions squad that entered the game 1-7 and excelled at not much of anything offensively, Green Bay failed to sack the quarterback for the third week in a row. Through the first six games of the season, the Packers racked up 23 sacks, good for second in the league.

“It’s making life difficult but you have to give credit where credit’s due,” Palmer said. “Our pass rush is good, but teams are taking note of that and keeping extra guys in and doing different things, rolling the quarterback, getting the ball out quick. It’s part of the game. It gets frustrating, but at the end of the day, it is what it is.”

Detroit’s victory over Green Bay snapped a 24-year losing streak in the state of Wisconsin. Whether it snaps Green Bay back to its winning ways remains to be seen.

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