What we learned from Packers' win over Lions

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The Green Bay Packers (5-1) are alone atop the NFC North. Green Bay came back from a 13-point first-half deficit and Mason Crosby kicked a game-winning 23-yard field goal with no time remaining to top the Detroit Lions (2-2-1), 23-22, on "Monday Night Football" in Week 6. Here's what we learned:

1. On a night when neither team was at its best and points were left on the field, the Packers and Lions needed help from a third party to resolve matters in the fourth quarter: the officials. On the final three drives of Monday night's contest, questionable calls and non-calls from Clete Blakeman's crew swung the eventual result of this one. First, a Packers drive was extended following a failed third down after Lions defensive end Trey Flowers was called for illegal use of the hands on Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari; an instant replay showed Flowers grabbed Bakhtiari's shoulder pads, with the tackle arching his head back, but no contact with his face. The Packers scored on a TD pass three plays later to cut Detroit's lead to two points. On the Lions' ensuing drive, a Matthew Stafford pass to Marvin Jones fell incomplete in Green Bay territory, but only after Packers defensive back Will Redmond slashed the Lions receiver across the chest. No pass interference call was made, and Matt Patricia neglected to challenge the call. Detroit punted with 6:53 to go in the game. Finally, on what would be the final drive of the game, Green Bay's march was extended once more when Flowers was again called for hands to the face on Bakhtiari on a failed third down; replay showed a similar misinterpretation of the play. Four plays later, Crosby kicked the game-winning field goal from 23 yards out. "Today didn't feel like a win until the end," Aaron Rodgers told ESPN's Lisa Salters after the game. That's because if not for some forgiving judges, Green Bay's fifth victory of the season would have likely been its second loss.

2. Questionable officiating aside, with the division lead on the line, Detroit missed myriad opportunities to blow this one open. Leaning on a deep passing attack, the Lions made it inside Green Bay's 10-yard line on their first three possessions, but came away with just 13 points. On the night, Detroit finished drives on or inside Green Bay's 35 six times but scored just 22 points from those possessions, having Matt Prater bail out an offense that struggled to close late in drives. The Lions' red-zone offense was particularly poor; rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson dropped a jump-ball touchdown, and on Detroit's lone score of the night, Kerryon Johnson just barely crossed the goal line on a fourth-and-1. Unable to lean on a running game that mustered just 56 yards against a Packers front seven that had surrendered over 100 in each of its last four games, Detroit was also stuck in poor third-down situations all night and went 3-for-13 as a result. The Lions totaled just 13 first downs on the evening (and four in the second half), compared to Green Bay's 22. Detroit entered like Lions, totaling 188 yards in the first quarter alone, but went out like lambs, squandering an opportunity to seize control of a contentious NFC North.

3. It felt at times as if Rodgers was playing with two hands tied behind his back. The same could be said for his receivers, who dropped his passes, batted them into the hands of Lions defenders and for three quarters struggled to show up in prime time. Without Davante Adams, who remains sidelined by a toe injury, Green Bay's explosiveness on offense was limited with the likes of Darrius Shepherd and Jake Kumerow seeing crunch-time targets from the Packers' gunslinger; Shepherd's slip and pick-assist on the goal line nearly sank Green Bay's chances at a comeback. But Rodgers did enough on Monday night with what and who he had at his disposal to keep the Packers afloat against Detroit. When in trouble, he found Allen Lazard, a second-year UDFA out of Iowa State, who caught four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown against All Pro-caliber nickelback Justin Coleman. Lazard's ability to separate and track the ball on an improbable TD throw from Rodgers along the sideline was veteran-level play, something the QB knew the young receiver was capable of. "That's what he does. He's been doing it in practice a bunch," Rodgers told Salters. "He played how I expected him to play. I'm proud of him." Monday night's win was another example of Rodgers making overnight heroes out of average Joes. I'd say such a playing style is unsustainable, except the Packers quarterback has been perfecting these game scripts for years.

4. Aaron Jones followed up his four-touchdown breakout against Dallas by playing sidekick on Monday night. An early fumble and dropped TD pass relegated Jones (60 total yards) to split snaps with Jamaal Williams for much of the game. Williams, who returned Monday from a concussion suffered in Green Bay's last prime-time game in Week 4, enjoyed his best day on the ground since December of 2017, racking up 104 rushing yards on 14 carries and adding 32 yards through the air. Green Bay missed the third-year back out of BYU in its loss to Philly and might've have fallen Monday night if he had not returned to action.

5. Green Bay's pass rush continues to impress. The Brothers Smith raised hell once again on Monday night, combining for 2.5 sacks of Matthew Stafford. Kyler Fackrell added a crucial half-sack, as well. Bouncing back from an ugly first quarter when Stafford enjoyed all the time in the world to launch his lethal deep strikes, Mike Pettine's defense, led by the outside pass rush, clamped down on Detroit as the game wore on and eventually wore the Lions down.

6. Where would Detroit be without Prater? The kicker was responsible for 16 of the Lions' 22 points and connected on all five of his field-goal attempts including from 51 and 54 yards out. Of course, the big booter will be overlooked in favor of the kicker from the opposite sideline, Mason Crosby, who connected on the game-winning chip shot. But if Detroit had come away with this one, it would've been Prater enjoying the Lambeau leaps.

7. The Packers remain among the cream of the NFC thanks to Monday night's victory. At 5-1, they are tied atop the win column with San Francisco, New Orleans and Seattle and lead the Vikings in the NFC North by a game. The Packers are well positioned to take the division, as they are now 3-0 in the North, having beaten each of their rivals once. Detroit, on the other hand, falls to the middle of the pack after heading into Week 4 as one of the league's lone unbeatens. The Lions have an opportunity to get back in the mix in the division in six days when they host the aforementioned Vikings.

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