Green Bay 31, Detroit 24
When: 8:30 PM ET, Sunday, January 1, 2017
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
DETROIT -- Aaron Rodgers never doubted his team. Following an unlikely run to a division championship, no one should ever doubt what Rodgers has to say again.
Rodgers declared that the Packers could "run the table" when they were 4-6 and they did just that, finishing the regular season on a six-game winning streak.
He finished the job by throwing four touchdown passes, two to Davante Adams, and the Packers clinched the NFC North Division title with a 31-24 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday night at Ford Field.
"That's what you have to do sometimes as a leader," Rodgers said. "You have to exude confidence, even in a situation where it seems to the outside world that confidence shouldn't exist. That's kind of what I did. I believe in myself and my abilities. But I also believe in this team. It wasn't just a shot in the dark. It was an optimistic belief in my teammates that we were going to start handling adversity better."
Green Bay (10-6) enters the NFC playoffs as the No. 4 seed and will host the No. 5 seed, the New York Giants, in the opening round of the playoffs on Sunday.
"We have bigger aspirations," coach Mike McCarthy said. "This is the first step, this is the threshold of getting in the playoffs, getting in this tournament."
Both teams qualified for the postseason earlier in the evening when Washington lost to the New York Giants. The Lions (9-7), who failed in their bid to win their first division title in 23 years, wound up as the No. 6 seed. They will travel to No. 3 Seattle in the first round on Saturday.
Rodgers completed 27 of 39 passes for 300 yards. Adams caught six passes for 31 yards, while rookie Geronimo Allison caught four passes for 91 yards and a touchdown. Fullback Aaron Ripkowski had a combined 76 rushing and receiving yards, including a touchdown for Green Bay, which won its fifth division championship in six seasons.
"Winning games like today gives you great confidence," McCarthy said. "It gives you momentum. We clearly understand where we were six weeks ago and where we are today."
The Packers were depleted by injuries throughout the season and had several more on Sunday, including a scary neck injury to cornerback Quentin Rollins. He was carted off and taken to an area hospital. Rollins was conscious and had movement in his extremities and was held over for further evaluation.
No matter who took the field for the Packers, they kept making more plays than Detroit.
"There was never any reason not to believe we were going to be here today," McCarthy said. "This team is different. This team has an energy, an edge, a confidence that was evident very early in the preseason.
Matthew Stafford completed 26 of 41 passes for 347 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for the Lions. Detroit running back Zach Zenner picked up a combined 110 rushing and receiving yards, including a touchdown, and Golden Tate caught six passes for 77 yards and a touchdown.
"Obviously, just didn't play well enough to get the win tonight," Stafford said. "Everybody sees that and understands that but we're excited about what's ahead. We got in, we're one of the 12 teams that earned a spot in this thing and it's a brand new season."
The Packers grabbed a 17-14 lead early in the third on Rodgers' 3-yard pass to Adams. Jordy Nelson, held to one catch in the first half, caught three passes on the drive.
Rodgers spun out of trouble and bought time before finding Allison on a 10-yard scoring play with 10:02 remaining. The extra point was missed, leaving the score at 23-14.
Matt Prater's 54-yard field goal with 7:52 left pulled Detroit within six.
A Detroit penalty for too many men on the field extended Green Bay's next possession. Rodgers then clinched the victory with a 9-yard strike to Adams.
"I don't think we stepped up to the moment in the second half," Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy said. "We just didn't make enough plays, we didn't stop them enough. We had too many breakdowns defensively."
Stafford heaved a 35-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin with 13 seconds left. Green Bay recovered the onside kick, ending any remaining suspense.
NOTES: The Lions played without two of their starting offensive lineman, as RT Riley Reiff (hip) and C Travis Swanson (concussion) were inactive. RB Theo Riddick was placed on injured reserve Saturday with a wrist injury. ... The Packers did not have WR Randall Cobb (ankle) for the second straight week and C JC Tretter (knee) was also inactive. RB James Starks (concussion) was declared out earlier in the week. ... QB Matthew Stafford surpassed the 30,000 career passing yardage mark during the first half. He reached that milestone in an NFL-record 109 games, five games faster than previous record-holders Dan Marino and Kurt Warner.
Top Game Performances
Team Stats Summary
Detroit will play their next game on the road against Seattle. The Lions have a W/L % of .700 after a win and .333 after a loss.
Green Bay will play their next game at home against N.Y. Giants. The Packers have a W/L % of .667 after a win and .571 after a loss.