Detroit Lions defense comes up huge vs. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers for 15-9 win

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions showed impressive signs of life at the end of a tough week.

The Lions got their best defensive performance of the season Sunday, intercepting three Aaron Rodgers passes and coming up with a big red zone stop in the final minute to snap a five-game losing streak with a 15-9 win over the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field.

The Lions (2-6) entered the week with the worst record in the NFL, fired secondary coach Aubrey Pleasant on Monday and traded tight end T.J. Hockenson, their leading receiver, to their division rival Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday.

Rookie Kerby Joseph had two interceptions before leaving with a brain injury, running back Jamaal Williams ran for 81 yards on 24 carries against his old team, and quarterback Jared Goff shook off some early inconsistency to throw touchdown passes to James Mitchell and Shane Zylstra, two of Hockenson’s replacements.

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The Lions failed to convert on fourth-and-3 at the two-minute warning, when Goff threw incomplete to Amon-Ra St. Brown against a six-man rush.

Rodgers drove the Packers inside the Detroit 20-yard line on the ensuing possession, but the Lions’ last-ranked defense forced four straight incompletions in the final minute to win their first game since beating the Washington Commanders, 37-26, in Week 2.

Rodgers completed a 32-yard pass to Samori Toure on fourth-and-2 with just over a minute to play to keep the drive alive.

Jeff Okudah forced a Toure fumble on the play, but landed out of bounds as he and Lions safety DeShon Elliott scrambled to recover the fumble before Okudah gained possession of the loose ball.

Rodgers threw back-to-back incompletions to Allen Lazard on first and second down, and safety C.J. Moore, playing in place of Joseph, broke up a pass to Amari Rodgers in the end zone.

Rodgers heaved a pass to Sammy Watkins on fourth down against a Lions blitz that landed harmlessly in the back of the end zone.

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The Lions entered Sunday last in the NFL in points and yards allowed per game. They had allowed at least 24 points in every game this season and were giving up an average of 32.1 points per game, but led 8-0 at halftime on Zylstra’s first career touchdown with 15 seconds left in the second quarter.

Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander was called for running into the kicker on the extra-point attempt, a wide left miss from Michael Badgley, and the Lions elected to go for two after the penalty and converted on a 1-yard Williams run.

Rodgers, the reigning two-time NFL MVP, had another rough game, completing 23 of 43 passes for 291 yards. He threw two red zone interceptions for the first time in his career.

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Lazard scored the Packers’ lone touchdown on a 20-yard pass early in the fourth quarter, but the Lions answered on the next possession, when Williams carried seven times on a 13-play drive.

Goff finished 14 of 26 passing for 137 yards for the Lions with two touchdowns and one interception.

The Lions visit another division rival, the Chicago Bears (3-6), next week. The Bears lost at home, 35-32, to Miami on Sunday.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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