Like most NFL games, only a handful of plays provided the difference between winning and losing for the Green Bay Packers during a 20-16 defeat to the Detroit Lions. Bad penalties. Costly turnovers. Missed opportunities. The Packers’ season-ending defeat played all the hits of a disappointing 2022 season.
Here are the seven plays (plus a few extras!) that doomed the Packers during a stunning loss at Lambeau Field in the season finale. Note: plays are in chronological order.
Fourth down failure (1st quarter)
After taking a 3-0 lead on the opening drive and then creating a quick three-and-out by the Lions, the Packers gained nine yards in two plays and faced 3rd-and-1. Aaron Jones was stopped for no gain on third down, and Allen Lazard got dropped for a loss on a jet sweep on fourth down. Not only did the turnover on downs halt the Packers’ drive, but it set up the Lions for easy points. Despite gaining only 12 yards on the ensuing drive, Detroit was able to tie the game at 3-3 with a 37-yard field goal. The Packers needed less than a yard to gain the first down, and an opportunity to run a quarterback sneak was there, but the Packers tried to out-flank the Lions and paid the price.
Aaron Jones fumble (2nd quarter)
The Packers held a 9-3 lead and were both in control of the game and in a prime position to extend the advantage to two scores before the half. Aaron Jones made a catch for first-down yardage but fumbled before going down, and the Lions recovered inbounds at the 15-yard line. What could have been a 12-3 lead or 16-3 lead at halftime turned into nothing more than a 9-6 advantage when the Lions drove for a field goal as time expired in the second quarter.
Rasul Douglas penalty (2nd quarter)
Michael Badgley and the Lions were lining up for a 48-yard field goal before the half, but Rasul Douglas handed Detroit 15 free yards and a far-easier kick with an inexcusable unnecessary roughness penalty. The play was stopped, and Douglas attempted to prevent the Lions from getting off a free practice kick. After interrupting the snap, he responded to a push from Dan Skipper by taking a swing at the Lions offensive lineman. The retaliation strike was in plain view. After the penalty, Badgley easily knocked home the 33-yard field goal to cut the Packers’ lead to 9-6 going into the half. A possession earlier, Badgley missed from 46 yards.
Romeo Doubs drop (4th quarter)
After the Packers re-took the lead at 16-13, the offense got the ball right back and had a chance to go down the field and take control of the game to open the fourth quarter. On 2nd-and-6, Aaron Rodgers threw a terrific ball down the far sideline to Romeo Doubs, but the rookie couldn’t haul it in with a cornerback trailing the play. It might have been the best throw of Rodgers’ night. Two plays later, the Packers punted the ball away, and the Lions went down the field for the go-ahead score.
Quay Walker penalty (4th quarter)
This will go down as one of the worst penalties in recent Packers history. Lions running back D’Andre Swift caught a short pass and was injured after gaining two yards on 1st-and-10 from the 11-yard line. Moments later, Walker, who was ejected from a game in Buffalo earlier this season, pushed a member of the Lions medical personnel who was attempting to care for Swift on the field. The penalty gave the Lions a new set of downs, moved the football to the 4-yard line and disqualified Walker from the contest. Three plays later, Jamaal Williams plunged into the end zone from one yard out to give the Lions a 20-16 lead.
Aaron Rodgers interception (4th quarter)
Down four points, three-and-half minutes left, 3rd-and-10, playoffs on the line. Or, the exact scenario in which a team needs a $50 million quarterback to make a big play to save the season. Instead, the Packers blew a protection up front and Aaron Rodgers launched a prayer to Christian Watson that was easily intercepted by Kerby Joseph along the sideline. Rodgers and the Packers never got the ball back. It was Rodgers’ 12th interception of the season (his most since 2008) and his third thrown to Joseph, the rookie safety. Rodgers had been flirting with an interception all night (one dropped, one called back by penalty). The actual turnover came at the worst time.
Fourth down failure on defense (4th quarter)
The Packers gave up a fourth down conversion on the Lions’ final scoring drive (4th-and-2 completion to D.J. Chark), but the fatal blow arrived a drive later. With a stop on 4th-and-1, the Packers would have gotten the ball back with just over a minute left. Instead, Chark (lined up in the slot) found a soft spot in the zone and behind a five-man blitz, and Jared Goff delivered an accurate ball on time to move the sticks and effectively end the game. Krys Barnes, who was in the game for Walker, was late moving to his left to cover up Chark in the zone.
Misfire to Romeo Doubs on third down: The throw was low, but the rookie had a chance to make a big play. Instead, Mason Crosby was called on to try a 53-yard field goal to the south end zone. It came up a yard short. More points lost.
A.J. Dillon drop: The Packers had 2nd-and-5 from Detroit’s 24-yard line early in the second quarter. Dillon dropped out of pass pro and was wide open in the flat, but he dropped the pass. On third down, Rodgers got dumped for a drive-ending sack. At the very least, Dillon’s drop cost the Packers a new set of downs in the red zone and a chance to score seven, not three.
Quay Walker missed tackle: After Aaron Jones’ fumble, Lions running back D’Andre Swift caught a short pass, made Walker miss in the open field and gained 18 yards to the Packers’ 37-yard line, putting the Lions in position to kick a field goal before the half. Without the explosive play, the Lions likely go into half without points following the turnover.