DETROIT — Matthew Stafford threw three touchdown passes and the Detroit Lions beat the turnover-prone and short-handed Green Bay Packers 35-11 Sunday in a matchup of teams out of the playoff race.
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The Lions (9-7) finished with a winning record in consecutive seasons for the first time since doing it three years in a row from 1993-95. That relative feat, along with a 36-28 record and two postseason appearances over four seasons in Detroit, may not be enough for coach Jim Caldwell to keep his job.
The Packers (7-9) have a losing record for the first time since 2008, which is also the last time they didn’t earn a spot in the playoffs. Their chances this season were crushed by Aaron Rodgers missing nine games with a collarbone injury,
Green Bay, without several banged-up players, gave away its chances to close with a win by turning it over three times in the first half to help the Lions lead 20-3 at halftime.
The Packers surprised Detroit by opening with an onside kick they recovered, but didn’t take advantage because Jamaal Williams bobbled a pass that was picked off by Jarrad Davis. They did take a 3-0 lead on Mason Crosby’s 41-yard field goal late in the first quarter, but Detroit tied it on the ensuing possession and took control in the second quarter.
Stafford threw a go-ahead, 54-yard pass to Kenny Golladay. After Green Bay’s Donatello Brown allowed a punt to hit him, the Lions recovered to set up Stafford’s 3-yard pass to Marvin Jones to put Detroit up 17-3. Stafford threw a 71-yard TD pass to Golden Tate late in the third, giving the Lions a 27-3 lead.
Brett Hundley threw 17-yard TD pass and 2-point conversion to Randall Cobb to pull the Packers within 16 early in the fourth period. Hundley was 14 of 24 for 172 yards with two interceptions and a fumble. He was replaced by Joe Callahan late in the game.
Stafford was 20 of 29 for 323 yards without a turnover. He caught a 2-point conversion pass after Ameer Abdullah, who had just run for a TD, took a direct snap and pitched it to Tate, who easily connected with Stafford in the end zone to put Detroit up 35-11 midway through the fourth quarter.
Packers: WR Geronimo Allison left in the first quarter with a finger injury and returned to play for a banged-up team minus receivers Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson because of injuries. CB Damarious Randall, TE Richard Rodgers, G Jahri Evans and RB Aaron Jones were also inactive. CB Davon House had a shoulder injury and Williams was evaluated for a concussion late in the game.
Lions: RB Theo Riddick (ribs), CB Teez Tabor (shoulder) and S Don Carey (knee) were hurt during the game.
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