By The Sports Xchange – (UPI)
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Detroit Lions found the perfect remedy for a three-game losing streak.
The Green Bay Packers.
Matthew Stafford threw his 200th career touchdown pass as the Lions beat the punchless Packers 30-17 on Monday night.
Stafford passed for 361 yards and two touchdowns. Detroit’s Golden Tate had seven catches for 113 yards, and Marvin Jones had seven receptions for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
“We went into this game thinking that this needed to be a statement game,” Tate said.
A bye week did nothing to help the Packers (4-4). With Aaron Rodgers on injured reserve and Brett Hundley at quarterback, they have lost three in a row.
Detroit (4-4) put the game away on a drive spanning the third and fourth quarters. Stafford’s 25-yard completion to Jones on third-and-10 was the key play, making the Lions 6 of 9 on third down.
On first-and-goal at the 1, Packers linebacker Blake Martinez stripped the ball from running back Ameer Abdullah, but right tackle Ricky Wagner recovered. The Packers kept the Lions out of the end zone on second and third down, too, before Matt Prater‘s 19-yard field goal made it 20-3.
Still, the 17-point lead was too much for the Hundley-led Packers, who couldn’t solve Detroit’s defense.
“We just knew that he wouldn’t be able to do the stuff that Aaron does at the line of scrimmage, so we wanted to go out there and make it tough for him,” Lions cornerback Darius Slay said. “He is a talented guy. He is an NFL quarterback, for sure, but we knew it would be tough for him to make all the checks like (Rodgers) does.”
Hundley didn’t surpass 100 passing yards until a 46-yard catch and run by Randall Cobb about four minutes into the fourth quarter. Hundley’s 1-yard sneak pulled Green Bay within 20-10 with 9:52 remaining.
Detroit immediately answered with a perfectly timed screen to running back Theo Riddick against a Packers blitz, resulting in a gain of 63 yards. One play later, Stafford threw his second touchdown pass of the night to Jones, an 11-yard connection that made it 27-10.
At that point, the 77,575 fans in attendance fled for the exits.
The Lions piled up 417 yards of offense and finished 8 of 13 on third down. The Packers finished with 311 yards — 75 of those were on a garbage-time touchdown drive — and were 2 of 9 on third down. That led to a time-of-possession disparity of nearly 14 minutes.
“I think really the biggest thing for us to improve on is third down and, frankly, defensively third down,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “They totally controlled the third-down battle tonight. I thought that was a huge factor in the game. We have work to do, and that’s the fact of the matter. We’ve got to do it fast, and that’s our plan. We got relatively healthy coming out of the bye. I thought we had a very good week of practice and we didn’t play as well as Detroit tonight, and that’s stating the obvious.”
Before Rodgers sustained a broken collarbone, the Packers were averaging 27 points per game. In the three games with Hundley, they have scored 10, 17 and 17 points in losses to the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints and Detroit, respectively.
“Everybody wants to score five touchdowns, have a perfect quarterback rating and win,” said Hundley, who completed 26 of 38 passes for 245 yards. “This game was a step in the right direction. I think I did some good things. Obviously, it wasn’t enough of them, but (the) first start for sure wasn’t the breakout game everybody wants. There’s ups and downs in everything. You can’t be perfect all the time. I felt comfortable today. There were some good things done, and we’ve just got to make those big plays.”
Stafford completed 26 of 33 passes.
“Those guys on the outside were doing a great job of winning,” he said. “I was just trying to get it to the open guy. All sorts of guys were winning. And when we can spread people out and use a bunch of weapons like we did tonight, we are at our best.”
NOTES: Detroit’s Matthew Stafford is the fourth quarterback younger than 30 to throw 200 touchdown passes. … For the second consecutive week, Detroit LT Greg Robinson was inactive. Brian Mihalik got the start. Mihalik exited with an undisclosed injury in the second quarter and was replaced by Emmett Cleary. With starter Taylor Decker on the physically unable to perform list, Cleary was the Lions’ fourth-stringer at the position. … Mihalik returned and caught Stafford’s final pass of the night, a loss of 4 yards on a deflection. … WR Marvin Jones, who caught six passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns in last year’s game at Lambeau Field, has four touchdowns in four career games vs. Green Bay. … The Packers had their No. 1 offensive line together for the second time all season, but RT Bryan Bulaga sustained an injured right knee in the fourth quarter. … Green Bay QB Brett Hundley has thrown one touchdown pass in three games.