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Packers maintain home dominance of Lions

The SportsXchange

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When it's not Aaron Rodgers, it's Mike Daniels and DuJuan Harris.

So it goes for the Green Bay Packers, who took over first place in the NFC North and extended their NFL-record, 22-game, head-to-head home winning streak against the Detroit Lions by earning a 27-20 victory Sunday night at snowy Lambeau Field.

Green Bay, getting touchdowns from two unlikely sources, has won seven of its last eight to improve to 9-4. With the Bears (8-5) losing at Minnesota, the Packers can clinch the division title by winning at Chicago next week.

Detroit (4-9) lost its fifth in a row. The Lions tied an NFL record by losing a third consecutive game in which they led by at least 10 points.

"It's the way the NFL is," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "It we make the key plays, then we win. If we didn't, then we don't win. The Packers made the key plays tonight all across the board."

The last time the teams met at Lambeau, in last year's season finale, the quarterbacks combined for 1,000 passing yards and 11 touchdown passes.

Rodgers wasn't a factor that day -- Matt Flynn got the start as the Packers rested for the playoffs -- and he wasn't a factor on the go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter Sunday.

In a span of five plays, Alex Green ran for 10 and 9 yards, Ryan Grant ran for 13, and Harris ran for 5 and a 14-yard touchdown that put the Packers in front 24-17. Harris, a first-year player out of Troy, was signed to the practice squad on Oct. 24 and promoted to the active roster because of injuries before last week's game.

"That's what your linemen want, that's what the backs want," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "That's the way we play football here in December. At that point in the game, you could feel it was starting to tilt. That was a big series. That was a big series for us."

The Lions, as has been the story of their season, couldn't make a key play. The ensuing offensive possession included two first downs, but Matthew Stafford just missed Tony Scheffler deep over the middle on third-and-8. A bad punt set up the Packers at their own 37.

On third-and-11, the Lions rushed three, giving Rodgers plenty of time to hit Randall Cobb for a catch-and-run gain of 38 yards. That set up a 41-yard field goal by Mason Crosby, which extended the advantage to 27-17 with 4:02 remaining.

Detroit's last realistic shot to make a game of it ended on Stafford's fourth-down incompletion with 2:26 to go. The Lions got the ball back and got a 34-yard field goal from Jason Hanson with seven seconds to go. A pooch kick went out of bounds, and the Packers ran out the clock.

The Packers spotted the Lions an early 14-0 lead but took a 17-14 lead on the first possession of the third quarter. Rodgers scored on a 27-yard run on third-and-4. Rodgers was pressured by defensive ends Lawrence Jackson and Willie Young but avoided the sack. Linebacker Justin Durant was tied up in coverage with Jermichael Finley at the sideline, and fullback John Kuhn blocked linebacker Stephen Tulloch as Rodgers ran untouched through a huge void on the right side of the field.

"The run was fun," Rodgers said. He added about his celebration: "A little embarrassed about the leap. I was pretty tired. It took me most of the next possession when we were on defense to catch my breath."

The Lions tied the game at 17 on a 46-yard Hanson field goal, then were given a short field when Crosby missed his seventh consecutive field goal from 50-plus yards.

Detroit, however, returned the favor when Hanson was short on a 52-yard attempt on the second play of the fourth quarter. Unlike Detroit, Green Bay took advantage with a 50-yard scoring drive on which all seven plays were runs. Harris punctuated the march with his touchdown run.

Quarterback fumbles were the key to the first half, which ended with Detroit ahead 14-10.

The Lions, who led the NFL in passing attempts entering the game, ran the ball nine times on a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to open the game. On fourth-and-inches from the 4-yard line, Stafford ran untouched into the end zone on a bootleg.

The Packers appeared to have the answer, reaching the Lions' 12 on the ensuing drive, but Rodgers was sacked and stripped by Lawrence Jackson, with Tulloch recovering the loose ball. Detroit parlayed that into a 79-yard touchdown drive, capped by Stafford's 3-yard toss to Scheffler.

Crosby got the Packers on the board with a 49-yard field goal, and then it was Green Bay's turn to take advantage of a quarterback fumble. The ball slipped out of Stafford's hand on a screen, and defensive lineman Daniels scooped it up and raced 43 yards for a touchdown. That cut Detroit's advantage to 14-10.

"That was a big play," Stafford said. "We had all the momentum. I thought we came out in the first half and played really good football, on both sides, really. We only gave up three (points) on defense (in the first half), and to have one go their way like that is tough. Obviously, the ball was slick out there tonight, but that's not an excuse."

Daniels said, "I was thinking, 'Get the ball,' and then I was thinking, 'Don't let that guy touch me,' and then I was thinking, 'Score.' I played a little bit of running back in high school, and whenever I smell the end zone, I get into it. So I kind of had to bring back those old skills, if that's what you want to call 'em."

The Lions dominated the first half, holding a 218-94 edge in yards and a 41-16 edge in offensive snaps. Mikel Leshoure (11 carries, 43 yards) and Joique Bell (eight carries, 40 yards) led the way before the break as the Lions rushed for 117 yards, with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan taking advantage of Green Bay running nickel and dime packages on every snap of the half.

Rodgers finished 14-for-24 for 173 yards, while Stafford completed 27 of 45 passes for 264 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Detroit's Calvin Johnson went over 1,500 receiving yards for the season, joining Marvin Harrison (2001-02) and Andre Johnson (2008-09) as the only receivers in NFL history to accomplish the feat. Calvin Johnson made 10 catches Sunday for 118 yards.

NOTES: Green Bay has won 11 consecutive games against division foes, the longest streak in the league. ... On Rodgers' first-quarter fumble, Ndamukong Suh lined up at defensive end to test undrafted rookie right tackle Don Barclay, who was making his first NFL start. Suh's rush forced Rodgers up in the pocket and allowed Jackson to make the play. ... Detroit has led five times at halftime during the 22-game road losing streak in the series. ... Rodgers' touchdown run was the longest by a Packers quarterback since Brett Favre's 36-yarder against Chicago in 1994. ... The Packers' inactives included defensive back Charles Woodson (collarbone), outside linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring) and receiver Jordy Nelson (hamstring). Woodson, who was injured Oct. 21, and Matthews, who was hurt Nov. 4, are expected back for next week's NFC North showdown at Chicago. ... The Lions' inactives included safety Louis Delmas (knee) and defensive tackle Corey Williams (knee).
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