Packers don't let Detroit get win
The Green Bay Packers wrapped up a 6-10 season yesterday with a 31-21 win over Detroit.
The Lions became the first NFL team ever to finish 0-16 and they were the first to go winless in 32 years, after Tampa Bay went 0-14 in 1976.
"They played hard, they came out in a tough situation and played hard," said Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers after the game.
Rodgers became only the second quarterback ever to throw for 4,000 yards in the same season he started his first game. Kurt Warner was the other.
Rodgers' milestone came on a 71-yard touchdown play to Donald Driver with 7:16 left. That same play gave Driver his sixth career 1,000 yard receiving year, which set a new team record. It was also the day's final score, as Green Bay ended a five-game losing streak.
Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy told reporters after the game that he's had confidence in Rodgers all year and the call for the deep throw to Driver shows it.
"Shoot, I know I've had confidence in Aaron Rodgers all year. I think the way the game is called dictates that. To come out and take that shot at that specific time based on the circumstances that just occurred, with Detroit driving and scoring, I think that says a lot about the play-caller and the quarterback being on the same page," McCarthy said.
The Packers racked up a season-high 484 total yards and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, they were the first NFL team ever to have two receivers and two running backs go over 100 yards in the same game.
Driver had 111 receiving yards and Greg Jennings 101. Running backs Ryan Grant and DeShawn Wynn each had 106 yards on the ground. Most of Wynn's yards came on a 73-yard touchdown scamper.
"DeShawn did a very nice job. I think that's something you can see building. That's the way he practices. He's a young man who had an excellent opportunity last year. He was injured and fought through a rough training camp and fought his way back from the practice squad. I think it's an excellent story," McCarthy said.
Rodgers threw for 308 yards, giving him 4,038 on the year with 28 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and a season passer rating of 93.8.
Lions didn't quit
Detroit never gave up. The Pack went up 14-0 early, but the Lions tied it in third quarter on Dan Orlovsky's second touchdown pass of the day to Calvin Johnson.
Mason Crosby put the Pack in front for good with a 36-yard field goal 1:22 into the fourth quarter. The Pack then went up by 10 on a five-yard Rodgers pass to John Kuhn, but the Lions still showed some fight.
Kevin Smith scored on a nine-yard touchdown run to put Detroit within three with 7:32 left, before the decisive touchdown pass to Driver.
Will Blackmon's fair catch at the end of the first half gave Crosby a chance to make NFL history. He tried to take advantage of a little-used free kick rule to boot a league-record 69-yard field goal, but it fell just short.
Rookie Jermichael Finley scored his first career touchdown. Finley came out of college early to play and has been a work-in-progress for the Packer coaching staff all year, but has been showing progress and promise.
"As a youngster I've learned, keep your mouth shut and play the game," said Finley.
For Detroit, Orlovsky threw for 225 yards with two interceptions -- one each to Nick Collins and Charles Woodson. Both got their seventh picks of the year, tying them for second in the league.
Johnson caught nine passes for 102 yards and Smith ran for 92 yards on 28 carries.
The Packers will have the ninth pick in next April's NFL draft and they'll have an easier schedule next fall.
The Packers' opponents for 2009 had a combined winning percentage of .428. This year's opponents had a winning mark of .504. Green Bay will take on five playoff teams next year - same as this year.
Besides the normal division foes, they'll host Dallas, Seattle, San Francisco, Baltimore, and Cincinnati. On the road, they'll play Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Arizona. Dates and times will be announced in the spring.