NFL: Packers 27, Lions 15
Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 24, 2011
DETROIT ó Aaron Rodgers took every hit the Detroit Lions could dish out.
He just kept throwing ó and winning.
Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and the Green Bay Packers built a big lead in the third quarter thanks in part to Ndamukong Suhís ejection during a 27-15 victory in Detroit on Thursday.
Detroitís best chance to beat the Packers was to knock Rodgers out of the game, just as it did last year in a victory that started a nine-game winning streak.
The Lions gave that tactic a shot, hitting him even if he had already gotten rid of the ball. Kyle Vanden Bosch was flagged for one of those late hits and couldíve drawn another penalty for trying to rough up the star quarterback even more on the same drive.
Rodgers refused to be rattled, kept his cool and won ó again.
ěWe try to rise above things like that,î Rodgers said. ěWe knew in a rivalry game, there are going to be a hard of hard hits, but we kept things between the whistles.î
The defending champion Packers are 11-0 for the first time in franchise history and have won a team-record 17 straight, including the playoffs.
ěI donít feel any pressure, this is a good place to be,î coach Mike McCarthy said. ěWho doesnít want to be 11-0?î
Green Bay easily passed what was expected to be one of its toughest tests toward joining the 2007 New England Patriots as the NFLís only teams to have 16-0 regular seasons.
ěWeíre a long way from there,î Rodgers said. ěThis is a big step toward our first goal, which is winning the division. If we are undefeated after 14 or 15 games, weíll talk about 16.î
While the Packers are working on a perfect season, Detroit (7-4) has to figure out a way to avoid the physical and mental mistakes that have put the team on the playoff bubble after a 5-0 start.
The Lions have lost a franchise-record eight consecutive Thanksgiving games and added to their misery in ugly fashion.
ěIt really does ruin the holiday,î center Dominic Raiola said. ěYou put so much into this and to go out there and lay an egg like that, itís disappointing. My dayís ruined.î
Suhís day might lead to another fine ó and possibly a suspension.
He was tossed for stomping on Evan Dietrich-Smithís right arm in the third quarter.
Suh insisted he didnít intentionally step on the opposing lineman with his right foot, saying he was just trying to separate himself from the situation.
ěI apologize to my teammates and my fans and my coaches for putting myself in a position to be misinterpreted and taken out of the game,î Suh said.
Dietrich-Smith wouldnít say it was a dirty play.
ěStuff happens,î he said.
Green Bay defensive end Ryan Pickett was more outspoken.
ěThereís no place for that,î Pickett said.
The Packers took advantage of Suhís misstep just as they did on Matthew Staffordís three interceptions.
John Kuhn followed nose tackle B.J. Raji for a 1-yard TD plunge after Suh was flagged on third down, and Green Bay turned Staffordís interceptions into two TDs and a field goal.
Detroit became the NFLís first team to win three games in a season after trailing by 17 points with Sundayís comeback win over Carolina, but the Packers proved they werenít as vulnerable as the Panthers.
The Lions finally scored when Keiland Williams ran for a 16-yard TD with 13:11 left and added the 2-point conversion on a pass from Stafford to Titus Young that trimmed Green Bayís lead to 16. They scored a meaningless TD on Staffordís 3-yard pass to Calvin Johnson with 11 seconds left.
Detroit had raised expectations for a competitive and entertaining game during its annual showcase after losing the last seven games by three-plus TDs on average.
The Lions kept it close early ó in a punt- and penalty-filled first half ó then simply couldnít keep up with Rodgersí passing attack and failed to stay disciplined.
A game that was scoreless for the first 25 minutes turned into a 24-0 lead for Green Bay late in the third.
ěYou have to keep your composure,î Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson said. ěIn big games, you need your best players there.
ěThey broke and we took advantage of it.î
Rodgers doesnít need any help, but he did get an assist when Detroit lost three defensive backs to injuries, leaving the Lions with receiver Rashied Davis in the secondary.
Rodgers was 22 of 32 for 307 yards. He threw a 3-yard TD pass to Greg Jennings with 4:51 left in the first half for the first score of the game and a 65-yard pass to James Jones in the third for a 21-0 lead.
Stafford was 32 of 45 for 276 yards. He was picked off by Woodson, Clay Matthews and Robert Francois.
Despite the humbling loss, Stafford remained confident about how his team stacks up with the Packers.
ěI still do feel like we match up really well against those guys,î he said. ěWe didnít play our best. We didnít get a bunch of breaks.î
Green Bayís winning streak, including its run in the 2010 playoffs, equals the streak the Oakland Raiders had during the 1976-77 seasons.
New England won 18 straight during the 2007 season only to lose to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
The Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints were the last teams to start a season 11-0, pulling off the feat two years ago.
ěWe know we have something special, 12-0 is our goal,î Pickett said. ěAnd if 16-0 is there when we get there weíll embrace that.î
NOTES: Packers RB James Starks (ankle), LB A.J. Hawk (calf), LB Desmond Bishop (calf) and OG Josh Sitton (knee) were injured. … RB Kevin Smith (right ankle), FS Louis Delmas (knee), CB Chris Houston (knee) and CB Brandon McDonald (knee) went down for Detroit. … Green Bayís next game is on the road against the New York Giants and Detroit plays at New Orleans.
The Associated Press