Aaron Rodgers didn't let an injured calf stop him from leading the Green Bay Packers to an NFC North title. After re-aggravating his calf near the end of the second quarter, Rodgers returned to the game in the third, throwing a touchdown, and running for another on the way to a 30-20 victory over the Detroit Lions. He finished the game 17-of-22 and passed for 226 yards with a 139.6 rating.
With the win, the Packers have won the division and earned a first-round bye. Since Seattle beat St. Louis at home, they will not have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Here's our full recap of today's action:
Eddie Lacy and James Starks ran for 61 yards on the Packers' first offensive drive of the game, but a Detroit goal line stop left Green Bay with zero on their first possession. A defensive pass interference penalty gave the Packers a new set of downs from the one. A handoff to John Kuhn didn't go anywhere, followed by two straight incompletions. When Lacy returned to the field on fourth and goal, he was stopped on the left side with his cut-back lane closing.
Micah Hyde returned his third career punt for a touchdown and took the kick 55 yards, giving the Packers a 7-0 lead on the board. The return tied him with Desmond Howard and Will Blackmon for the most in franchise history.
On the Packers' third drive, Rodgers stepped up in the pocket and re-aggravated his calf while delivering a four-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb. The touchdown made the score 14-0, but Rodgers remained on the ground after the hit in pain. He needed assistance going to the sideline, and was eventually carted off to the locker room. Here's a look at Rodgers when he suffered the injury:
Calvin Johnson scored on a 20-yard touchdown down the seam before the half ended to cut Green Bay's lead to just seven. The Lions went eight plays, 77 yards to score, and unfortunately, a roughing the passer call on linebacker Brad Jones the play before kept that drive alive.
Detroit ended up scoring two touchdowns with Rodgers out of the game. Johnson scored his second touchdown after a Stafford floater to the right side of the end zone. The Lions tied the game up at 14 at the start of the third.
Rodgers would return for the second offensive series of the second half, and the Packers helped limit Rodgers' mobility by running the ball on three straight plays on his first drive back. Two slants to Cobb went for 29 and 13 respectively, with the 13-yarder crossing the white chalk. Cobb's second grab of the game topped a seven-play, 60-yard drive to make it 21-14. With a chance to register a field goal, Mason Crosby's 34-yard attempt was blocked by Isa Abdul-Quddus. On the first play from scrimmage right after, Stafford's handoff to Joique Bell was bobbled, and it resulted in a fumble.
Rodgers ran it in himself for a touchdown one-yard out, and made the score 28-14. An intentional grounding penalty on Stafford who stood in the end zone resulted in a safety, which made the score 30-14. Detroit scored another touchdown late, but a failed two-point conversion still gave the Packers a 10-point lead with under two minutes to go.
With the clock running out, Green Bay sealed the game, 30-20.