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Lions 35, Packers 11: Green Bay improves draft position with awful all-around performance

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Turnovers and poor pass defense defined the Packers once again in week 17 as they closed their season with an ugly loss.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

You can close the book on the 2017 Green Bay Packers.

Thank God.

The Packers played like they had nothing to play for on Sunday afternoon in Detroit, falling to the Lions 35-11. The loss gave the Packers a 7-9 record and sealed their first finish below .500 since 2008, Aaron Rodgers’ first year as a starting quarterback. His replacement, Brett Hundley, completed just 14 of 24 passes for 172 yards, one touchdown, and a pair of interceptions, and he also lost a fumble in the red zone to give away another possession.

On the other sideline, Matthew Stafford was excellent, passing for 323 yards and three touchdowns on just 29 attempts. He had a trio of passes of 50-plus yards, hitting Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, and Golden Tate with one each.

All of the focus for the Packers now shifts to changes on the coaching staff, as defensive coordinator Dom Capers is expected to be relieved of his duties in short order. The loss also likely will improve the Packers’ draft position, depending on the results of other games around the NFL.

If you need to relive Sunday’s game, here’s how it happened.

FIRST HALF

The Packers kicked off to start the game, but in a surprise move, Mike McCarthy dialed up an onside kick. The Packers executed it perfectly, as Jermaine Whitehead recovered the kick to give Green Bay the ball at midfield to start the game.

The Packers moved the ball quickly on their first series, but fell victim to a mistake near the red zone. From the Lions’ 21, Brett Hundley tried to throw to Jamaal Williams over the middle on an angle route, but Williams bobbled the ball into the hands of linebacker Jarrad Davis, who hauled in an interception.

After a quick stop by the defense, the Packers drove again, thanks in large part to a 27-yard screen pass to Williams. However, a Hundley pass to an open Jeff Janis near the goal line went off the receiver’s hands, and the Packers had to settle for a field goal instead, taking an early 3-0 lead.

On the Lions’ next offensive play, Matthew Stafford found Marvin Jones for a deep bomb over the middle. Stafford delivered a perfect throw to Jones over the coverage of Davon House, and the connection went for 56 yards. However, the Packers forced a field goal as the Lions tied the game at three.

Another red zone turnover by Brett Hundley cost the Packers yet another promising drive. Hundley had connected with Trevor Davis on a big gain up the right sideline, as the second-year receiver made a great mid-air adjustment to haul in the pass. However, Hundley rolled left to scramble and Glover Quin punched out the football, which Tahir Whitehead recovered. The two teams then traded punts before the Lions finally found the end zone.

Stafford found a wide-open Kenny Golladay over the middle, and he easily fought off Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, throwing a stiff-arm and easily pushing him off to find open space. Golladay had twenty yards of open field in front of him, racing into the end zone for a 10-3 Lions lead.

Trevor Davis took the ensuing kickoff out from five yards deep in the end zone, but was tackled at the ten-yard line and the Packers went three-and-out quickly, as did the Lions. However, on Detroit’s punt, Donatello Brown ran into Trevor Davis, letting the ball carom off Brown’s shoulder and into the hands of a Lion. Detroit cashed in two plays later with a touchdown pass to Marvin Jones for a 17-3 lead.

Detroit added a field goal at the end of the half for a 20-3 halftime lead.

SECOND HALF

The second half was really just more of the same. On each of the Packers’ first three drives of the half, Brett Hundley was sacked on third down to force a punt. The third time, the Lions made them pay, as Stafford hit Golden Tate for a 71-yard catch-and-run touchdown.

The Packers finally broke through early in the fourth quarter, as Hundley led an eight-play drive that culminated in a 17-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb. Hundley also hit Cobb for a two-point conversion, pulling the Packers within two possessions at 27-11.

However, the Lions roared right back with a touchdown of their own, as Ameer Abdullah ran into the end zone from seven yards out. Lions coach Jim Caldwell apparently felt the need to empty his playbook, so he went for a two-point conversion and got it on a trick play; Stafford faked an audible and Detroit snapped the ball directly to Abdullah, who lateraled to Golden Tate. Tate then threw the ball back to an open Stafford in the end zone for the two-pointer.

Hundley added another interception in Lions’ territory on the next series, and the Lions essentially ran the clock out from there to preserve the 35-11 victory. Joe Callahan did come on for the final series and completed five of his seven pass attempts for just 11 yards.