A brief rundown of the series history between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, limited to games played in Green Bay and Milwaukee.
It is Tuesday, and you know what that means. It is time for another Packers Series History report. This week (and next week, too), however, will be a little different as I will be writing a second Packers Series History report later this week to provide a general Packers-Lions Series History overview. Here are the promised links to the other sections:
Part 1: Games in Detroit.
Part 3: General Series Overview.
Currently, the Packers hold a more than commanding 54-24-4 series edge in Green Bay and Milwaukee, as well as a 1-0 mark in the postseason. This series goes all the way back to 1930 and has seen many memorable matchups in Green Bay and Milwaukee.
The Packers started playing the Portsmouth Spartans in 1930, and the first meeting between the teams was a 47-13 Packers win in Green Bay in 1930. This essentially set the tone for the next two decades. For all that was said in the previous post about the Packers occasionally struggling at home against the Lions, Green Bay won 17 of the 20 games in Wisconsin from 1930-1949.
The scoring margins of these games varied widely. Included in this streak was the 57-21 Packers triumph over the Lions in 1945 in Milwaukee. The Packers scored no fewer than 41 points in the second quarter of that game, and it is still the largest number of points the Packers have scored in a game. The 1949 Packers scored one of their two wins over the Lions, by the score of 16-14 in Milwaukee. By then, however, the Packers were entering the NFL's basement, and the Lions, in contrast, were perennial contenders during the 1950s.
The Lions won seven of the next eight games in Wisconsin, excluding only the 1955 Packers win in Green Bay. The 1958 game saw the Packers and Lions play to a 13-13 deadlock, the first of four ties between the teams in Wisconsin.
In 1959, Vince Lombardi arrived in Green Bay. The Packers, under his tutelage, became the powerhouse of the NFL, and the Packers posted a 6-2-1 mark against the Lions in Green Bay while Lombardi was coach. The 1962 game, a 9-7 Packers win, was featured in a nearly play-by-play detail in Lombardi's book "Run to Daylight". Lombardi was very complimentary towards Detroit that day. Such was not the case following the tie in 1967. After that game, Lombardi raised a ruckus about the game clock apparently clicking down too fast. The Packers salvaged a tie after Bart Starr threw three interceptions in the first half, one to Lions rookie defensive back Lem Barney, who was playing in his first NFL game (Barney ended up scoring a touchdown on the play).
By 1968, Lombardi was gone. Phil Bengston coached the Packers from 1968-1970 but the Lions won all three games in Green Bay during this span, including a 40-0 rout of the Packers in 1970.
The 1970s were a curious time in this series. The Packers, despite being among the worse teams in the NFL, actually were quite dominant over the Lions in Wisconsin. Detroit won only the 1975 game, and even though the teams tied in 1971 and 1973, the Packers won all the other home games over the Lions until the 1980 season.
In that year, the Lions went into Milwaukee and handed the Packers a 29-7 defeat. Despite the Packers winning the 1981 game, Detroit managed to establish some dominance over the Packers in Wisconsin during this span, winning eight of the twelve games in Green Bay and Milwaukee until the 1991 game. This stretch included several home overtime losses to Detroit, and even though the Packers won in 1989, this was one of the few good games for Green Bay.
This streak ended with a thud in 1992, when the Packers defeated the Lions 38-10 in a snowstorm in Milwaukee. This was the game where Sterling Sharpe thought he had scored a touchdown and pranced around on Detroit's one-yard line, only to have a Lions defensive back run at him, after which he got into the end zone for the touchdown. Since then, the Packers have won every game in Green Bay or Milwaukee, regardless of location.
While many of the games in the 1990s were close and often featured playoff implications, the Lions never did manage to break through and score a victory in Green Bay. With the collapse of the Lions in the 2001 season, the Packers-Lions games in Green Bay in the early part of the 2000s were blowouts. The case in point of this was the 40-14 Packers victory over Detroit in 2002.
In 2004, the Lions came within a few seconds of ending the streak in Green Bay. The Packers, however, got a last-second field goal from Ryan Longwell to win 16-13. A year later, the Lions established an early 13-3 lead over the Packers, who fell apart with what ended up being a 4-12 record that year. The Packers fought back, and tied the game at 13-13 heading into overtime. In overtime, another Longwell field goal gave the Packers a second consecutive 16-13 home victory over the Lions.
In 2007, the Packers completed the Lions' collapse by finishing off a season sweep of Detroit at Lambeau Field by the score of 34-13. The Lions had started 2007 with a 6-2 record, only to fall apart and finish 7-9 and out of the playoffs. This was a foreshadowing of the 2008 season, when Detroit finished 0-16. The Packers handed the Lions their sixteenth loss that year, 31-21 at Lambeau Field.
Even as the Packers continued to win, the last few games at Lambeau Field have been closer, decided by a combined six points. The most recent Packers win over the Lions at Lambeau Field was Matt Flynn's finest day as an NFL player. Flynn only set a Packers record for most touchdown passes in a game with six (since equaled by Aaron Rodgers) and the Packers won 45-41 to finish the 2011 season with a record of 15-1.
Now, the teams have met in the playoffs at Lambeau Field one time, following the 1994 season. In keeping with the trend of games in Green Bay, it should be no surprise that this game was also a Packers win. The Packers won the low-scoring game 16-12, but the story of this game was Green Bay's defense, which held Barry Sanders to a career-low minus-1 rushing yards on 13 carries.
What are your memories of the Packers hosting the Lions?