Green Bay Packers' Micah Hyde runs back a punt 55 yards for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)
Tom Lynn
December 29, 2014

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) With quarterback Aaron Rodgers hurting again, Packers coach Mike McCarthy had to tweak the plan in the passing game against the Detroit Lions.

As it turns out, Eddie Lacy played just as crucial a role against one of the top run defenses in the league.

Rodgers threw two touchdown passes to Randall Cobb while playing with a sore left calf, Lacy gashed Detroit for 100 yards and the Packers won a fourth straight NFC North title with a 30-20 victory on Sunday.

With the win, Green Bay (12-4) earned a bye and secured the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs. Detroit (11-5) is the sixth seed, and will play at Dallas on Sunday.

''As bad as it felt, I thought if I can go out there and be able to do some things and we win, I get another week to rehab it,'' Rodgers said.

The franchise quarterback was out of the game for about a seven-minute stretch between the second and third quarters. By the time he returned, the Lions had rallied from a 14-0 deficit to tie the game on two touchdown catches by receiver Calvin Johnson.

Rodgers hobbled back on to the field in the third quarter and led his team on a scoring drive that ended with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Cobb. The Packers didn't look back, though McCarthy had to change some plans on the fly with Rodgers having limited mobility.

There were more shotgun formations and quick passes, just like last week after Rodgers initially hurt his calf in a win over Tampa Bay.

But the Packers stuck with the plan on the ground. They were determined to keep running the ball in spite of the Lions' tough rush defense.

The Packers finished with 152 yards on the ground, a season-high on the ground against Detroit.

''Lacy got his shoulders square and ran down the field. We had a tough time and we didn't tackle very well early on,'' Lions coach Jim Caldwell said.

Here are a few other takeaways after Green Bay extended Detroit's road losing streak in the series to 24 games:

RODGERS' NIGHT: Rodgers finished 17 of 22 for 226 yards. He also called a quarterback sneak from 1 yard out that gave Green Bay a 28-14 lead with 8:45 left. ''MVP! MVP'' chanted adoring fans while light snow dusted Lambeau Field.

The franchise quarterback finished the season with a 112.2 passer rating and is the only player in NFL history to register a 100-plus rating in six consecutive seasons.

SUH'S STEPS: Rodgers felt more pain after Detroit's 305-pound defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh, stumbled back and stepped on Rodgers' lower left leg while the quarterback was on the ground at the end of a play. There was no penalty, and Rodgers said referee Walt Anderson told him he thought Suh was blocked into the quarterback.

McCarthy didn't see the play, but heard enough from others to be unhappy with Suh.

''There's no place for that,'' McCarthy said. ''I don't understand it, frankly.''

Suh had cleared out of the locker room by the time reporters were allowed in after the game. Caldwell also said he didn't see the play but had it recounted to him.

''Don't think it was intentional. End of story,'' Caldwell said.

LIONS' MISTAKES: Five penalties hurt the Lions' momentum in the first half. A turnover crippled their chances in the second.

After blocking Mason Crosby's 52-yard field goal attempt, the Lions lost the ball when quarterback Matthew Stafford fumbled on what looked like an aborted handoff to Joique Bell. The Packers cashed in with Rodgers' 1-yard sneak.

''It was just on our part, self-inflicted wounds, and we know that,'' cornerback Rashean Mathis said. ''But kudos to them, they did make plays - enough plays to win this ballgame.''

COLD COMFORT: Detroit lost a chance to win its first division title in two decades, but still gets to play on in the postseason for just the second time since 2000. Caldwell sought to get his team immediately refocused on Dallas.

''We won 11 (games) to get to this spot, so it's up to us to make them count,'' Stafford said. He finished 20 of 41 for 217 yards.

ODDS AND ENDS: Packers receiver Jordy Nelson had six catches for 86 yards, and set a franchise record with 1,519 yards for the season. ... Bell finished with 60 yards on 13 carries. ... Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy, who played in college at Wisconsin, finished with a game-high 10 tackles.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

You May Like