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Packers 31, Detroit 21

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At least the season ended on a good note.

The Packers avoid losing to the losingest team in NFL history. Also, they win only their 2nd game since October. QB Aaron Rodgers finishes the season with over 4000 yards passing. The duo of RB Ryan Grant and RB DeShawn Wynn each have an identical 106 yards rushing. And the two Pro Bowlers, S Nick Collins and CB Charles Woodson, pad their stats with an INT each.

This was the type of game I feared. Sometimes Detroit has hung in there against some good teams like Minnesota, Chicago and Washington. In week 2, Detroit came back from a 21-0 deficit to take the lead 25-24. In this game, Detroit came back from 14-0 to tie at 14-14.

But it never felt like Detroit was in it. The Packers had lousy starting field position in the 2nd and 3rd quarters and they scored no points. Detroit's offense did almost nothing, but a gift fumble in the 3rd quarter set up the TD that tied it at 14-14. The Packers offense turned it around and went for 231 yards on the next four possessions to put the game out of reach.

There is a lot to talk about going forward. What will the team do to turn it around? What will GM Ted Thompson do with the 9th overall draft pick? I'll get to that later, and focus first on what happened in the final game of the 2008 season. Here are some key plays from the play-by-play log:

First Quarter

(13:43) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers sacked at DET 42 for -12 yards. FUMBLES [96-A.Fluellen], touched at GB 46, recovered by GB-73-D.Colledge at GB 46. 73-D.Colledge to GB 46 for no gain (92-C.Avril).

A great return by WR Jordy Nelson is wasted when the ball slips from Rodgers' hand and pushes them out of field goal range. It doesn't count as a turnover, but it might as well have been one.

(9:02) (Shotgun) 42-D.Wynn right end for 73 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Why Grant and his injured hamstring had all the carries this season (312 for the season) while capable backups like Wynn and RB Brandon Jackson rode the bench is beyond me.

(4:25) 6-D.Orlovsky pass short right intended for 81-C.Johnson INTERCEPTED by 21-C.Woodson at GB 36. 21-C.Woodson to DET 41 for 23 yards (81-C.Johnson, 66-S.Peterman).

It was either a bad pass or a bad route by WR Calvin Johnson. The ball was over his head and Woodson made a great play for it.

(2:18) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete short left to 85-G.Jennings.

This was WR Greg Jennings 3rd drop of the 1st quarter. He ended up with 5 catches for 101 yards, but this wasn't his best game.

(1:33) 12-A.Rodgers pass short right to 88-J.Finley for 3 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Rookie 3rd round pick, TE Jermichael Finley, is only 21 years old since he left college early. He's not huge for a tight end, but at 6'5" he stands taller than nearly every defensive back in the NFL. He's primarily a receiver, and he's been more involved in the offense since the bye week. He might become a major weapon in the passing game in 2009 or 2010.

Second Quarter

(12:08) 34-Kevin Smith right end to GB 9 for -1 yards (97-J.Jolly).

This doesn't seem like much of a play. But it was the rare play this season where someone on the defensive line got into the backfield and made a tackle behind the line of scrimmage. DT Johnny Jolly hasn't been great this season, but he's their best DT. He still might not be good enough to start. I don't care how he does it, but GM Ted Thompson has to bring in some fresh bodies to compete at defensive tackle next season.

(11:22) (Shotgun) 6-D.Orlovsky pass short left to 81-C.Johnson for 9 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

This was an awful game for CB Al Harris. Earlier on the drive, he picked up a cheap unnecessary roughness penalty after he was taunted by a rookie. The rookie tricks the veteran into a rookie mistake. Then he's in coverage on the TD pass several plays later. Both of Detroit's long TD drives were set up by poor plays by Harris.

2-M.Crosby 69 yard field goal is No Good, Short, Holder-10-M.Flynn.

As the 1st half expired, K Mason Crosby tries an open field 69 yard FG attempt. It was played like a kickoff. I had never seen a play like that.

Third Quarter

(11:42) 25-R.Grant left end to GB 12 for 2 yards (24-K.Pearson). FUMBLES (24-K.Pearson), RECOVERED by DET-24-K.Pearson at GB 11. 24-K.Pearson to GB 11 for no gain (72-J.Spitz). Green Bay challenged the fumble ruling, and the play was Upheld. (Timeout #1 at 11:36.)

It was a bad game for the refs. Later in the quarter, they had to call back a TD run by Grant when they didn't notice he had gone down. There were some other sloppy calls too. Sometimes bumping down field was a penalty and sometimes it wasn't. This blown call alone tipped the bad calls in favor of Detroit. It was a goofy play because Grant was flipped head over heels and landed on his head. But the ground cause the fumble. It was not coming loose while he was flying in the air.

(10:15) 12-A.Rodgers sacked at GB 10 for -10 yards (99-D.White).

It made me really nervous that after the fumble and Detroit's 2nd TD, the Packers' first play was a sack.

(:26) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass short right to 89-J.Jones pushed ob at DET 22 for 5 yards (28-L.Bodden).

WR James Jones only had 2 catches in the game. Both happened on this FG drive. And both were catches for 1st downs. I love to see a receiver catch a ball in traffic and get enough yards for another 1st down.

Fourth Quarter

(12:41) 2-N.Harris punts 41 yards to GB 35, Center-48-D.Muhlbach. 27-W.Blackmon to GB 49 for 14 yards (52-A.Cannon).

(12:22) 25-R.Grant right end pushed ob at DET 42 for 9 yards (53-P.Lenon). PENALTY on DET-50-E.Sims, Unnecessary Roughness, 15 yards, enforced at DET 42.

It wasn't a great game for the special teams. But a good return and a stupid Detroit penalty later set up great field position.

(8:40) 12-A.Rodgers pass short left to 30-J.Kuhn for 5 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Nice misdirection play. I love it when Rodgers gets a lot of receivers involved in the game. I would like to see them use the fullback more too.

(8:34) 6-D.Orlovsky pass deep right to 16-J.Standeford to GB 45 for 35 yards (31-A.Harris). Penalty on GB-31-A.Harris, Illegal Contact, declined.

(8:01) 6-D.Orlovsky pass deep left to 16-J.Standeford ran ob at GB 9 for 36 yards (31-A.Harris).

(7:38) 34-Kevin Smith left end for 9 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Detroit had most of their big plays when they threw the ball to whoever Al Harris was covering. It felt like he was trying to play his way off the team. Then LB Brandon Chillar totally misses on RB Kevin Smith as he runs in for a TD.

(7:27) 12-A.Rodgers pass deep right to 80-D.Driver for 71 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

So much for that Detroit rally. Great throw by Rodgers. It was the pass that pushed him over 4000 yards for the season. FOX showed the stat that since 1970, only Rodgers and QB Kurt Warner have thrown for over 4000 yards in the first season in which they start a game.

(3:03) (Shotgun) 6-D.Orlovsky pass deep right intended for 81-C.Johnson INTERCEPTED by 36-N.Collins at GB 0. 36-N.Collins to DET 39 for 61 yards (66-S.Peterman). PENALTY on GB-51-B.Poppinga, Illegal Block Above the Waist, 10 yards, enforced at GB 37.

Somehow Detroit managed to have a 15 play drive that 32 yards and ended with the above INT.

(2:33) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass short right to 42-D.Wynn to GB 46 for 16 yards (28-L.Bodden). FUMBLES (28-L.Bodden), recovered by GB-73-D.Colledge at DET 47. 73-D.Colledge to DET 47 for no gain (79-L.Moore).

Wynn almost gave Detroit a 2nd chance. But the fumble is recovered, the two minute warning sounds, and the Packers run out the clock.