GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Lions pullout all the stops including a little Matt Prater magic.
Prater’s 8-yard pass on a fake field-goal try was a high and a little wobbly, but Levine Toilolo was so wide open in the end zone that it didn’t matter.
The Lions’ beleaguered season ended on a high note on Sunday, when almost everything went right for Detroit in a 31-0 win over the Green Bay Packers.
“Basically I was trying not to screw it up,” Prater said. “It worked out, so it was fun.”
Not so much for the Packers (6-9-1), who trailed 21-0 at the half and lost Aaron Rodgers early in the second quarter after to a concussion. The quarterback was sacked and lost his helmet on the second play of the game.
Rodgers played two more series before departing. The offense never got going even when he was behind center.
“Yeah, it was hard. We just didn’t have any rhythm,” interim head coach Joe Philbin said.
Both teams had long been eliminated from playoff contention. But the Lions (6-10) at least got a little positive push at the end of Matt Patricia’s first season as coach.
Matthew Stafford threw for 266 yards and two scores, both to T.J. Jones . Zach Zenner had a 13-yard touchdown run for the Lions, who have won four straight against their NFC North rival for the first time since 1982-83. That was one bright spot for a last-place Detroit team.
“I think those guys fought all year. I think they’re tough — mentally and physically tough,” Patricia said. “It showed up in the game today.”
SHORT ON RECEIVERS
The Lions’ passing game clicked despite a depleted receiving corps, with Kenny Golladay missing the relatively meaningless game with a chest injury. The Lions had decisive edges in total yards (261-67) and first downs (16-3) by halftime, with 11 of the first downs coming through the air.
Zenner finished with 93 yards on 21 carries. Stafford was 20 of 32, while rookie Brandon Powell had six catches for 103 yards
“It was an opportunity for them and obviously it was a big stage,” Stafford said about working with the young receivers. “Not an easy day to catch the football, wind swirling, cold, Lambeau Field.”
Prater’s touchdown pass gave the Lions a 14-0 lead with 10:36 left in the second quarter.
“Slow delivery, lollipop, but it was on target so that was a plus,” Stafford joked when asked about the kicker’s throw.
OVER AND OUT
Rodgers walked back to the locker room around the same time his teammates were getting over the shock of Detroit’s trick play.
It was unclear exactly when Rodgers got hurt. He was 3 of 5 for 26 yards, not the way he wanted to finish even in a meaningless game.
“I said, ‘How long are you playing?’ He said, ‘I’m going the distance,’” linebacker Clay Matthews said, recounting a pregame talk with Rodgers. “I said, ‘All right, I’ll be out there with you in the fourth.’ But it didn’t play out like that.”
The Packers were also without receiver Davante Adams, who missed practice this week with a knee injury. Adams finished the season with 111 catches, one shy of tying the single-season franchise record set by Sterling Sharpe in 1993.
Backup DeShone Kizer finished 16 of 35 for 132 yards and an interception, while Jamaal Williams managed just four yards on eight carries.
Green Bay didn’t top 100 yards in total offense until the third quarter.
There is uncertainty in Titletown following a second straight losing season and the firing of coach Mike McCarthy in early December. Philbin, the offensive coordinator, went 2-2 as interim coach.
When asked when he would interview for a chance to take the job permanently, Philbin deferred any questions to team president Mark Murphy, who is leading the search.
Rodgers and Adams have each voiced support over the past couple weeks for Philbin.
“I was very appreciative of all the things they did all season and in the four weeks that I was leading them,” Philbin said in recounting his postgame message. “And that we would get together tomorrow, we’re going to have a brief team meeting tomorrow and we’ll go from there.”
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