Lions vs. Packers: Everything we know from the Week 18 matchup

Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers: Score, stats, keys to the game, top Lions players and more from Week 18

The Detroit Lions closed out a disappointing 2021 season with a treat for the home fans inside Ford Field. Detroit and Green Bay played a thoroughly entertaining, engaging game in Week 18 that produced several highlight-reel plays for both sides.

In the end, the Lions picked up their third win of the season thanks to creativity, turnovers and strong play from a few key pieces for the 2022 season that should help grow into something bigger and better.

Play of the game: Wide receiver trickery earns Lions their 1st TD vs. the Packers

Week 18 play of the game: Wide receiver trickery earns Lions their 1st TD vs. the Packers

With reports that Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn would be let go, head coach Dan Campbell decided to empty out the playbook in Detroit’s season finale.

The biggest play of the Lions 37-30 victory over the Green Bay Packers came on Detroit’s second drive on offense.

After forcing Green Bay to punt, the Lions were pinned deep in their own territory, starting the drive at their own seven-yard line.

On the first play of the drive, Detroit comes out with Will Holden as an extra lineman and Jamaal Williams took a handoff for just one yard. One play later, Jared Goff hit Amon-Ra St. Brown for 17 yards, giving them a first down at their 25-yard line.

This is where the magic happened.

Detroit Lions are up for their first-down play with an interesting choice in personnel. Tom Kennedy was the outside receiver on the left side. On the right side, tight end Brock Wright, wide receiver Josh Reynolds, and St. Brown are bunched together in trips. Wide receiver Kalif Raymond is in the backfield, seven yards behind the line of scrimmage, while Goff is under center.

The ball is snapped. Reynolds goes out for a five-yard slant. Wright drops back and gives right tackle Matt Nelson some help in pass protection. Raymond runs to the right side and Goff fakes the toss. At this point, Green Bay’s defense stalls out in confusion, attempting to diagnose what is about to happen.

Instead of tossing the ball to Raymond, Goff quickly hands the ball off to St. Brown, who looked like he was going to run a sweep with it. Instead, the rookie tosses the ball over to Kennedy, who throws it on the run 31 yards downfield and hits a wide-open Raymond in stride.

The speedster Raymond then took that pass down the sideline with ease and put Detroit’s first points on the board.

Lions close out the season with a thrilling win over the Packers

The Detroit Lions close out the season with a thrilling 37-30 win over the Green Bay Packers

Anyone expecting the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions to not put forth much effort in a game that meant nothing in the standings for either team, they thought wrong. Week 18 turned into a fun, thrilling, back-and-forth contest that had Ford Field rocking.

The Lions prevailed in a spirited 37-30 contest that saw the Packers play their starters for the first half. Dan Campbell’s Lions poured everything into the kitchen sink and threw it at the NFC North Champs.

Detroit scored on one trick play with wide receiver Tom Kennedy throwing a 75-yard touchdown pass to fellow wideout Kalif Raymond. Another Lions TD came courtesy of a flea-flicker off a reverse, with tight end Brock Wright ultimately barrelling into the end zone. They managed to set the NFL record for most fourth-down conversions and attempts in a season along the way, too.

It was a game of big plays from both teams. Every time the Lions pulled ahead, the Packers clawed right back. Aaron Rodgers was brilliant in the first half, making a couple of “only he can do that” throws that should solidify his MVP candidacy. But Lions QB Jared Goff didn’t blink either and made it a fun duel.

The Lions forced three second-half turnovers, the final one an interception by safety Tracy Walker, who had a great game outside of one terrible whiffed tackle. It set up victory formation for the Lions and coach Campbell sent in backup QB Tim Boyle, who served as Green Bay’s No. 2 in 2020 ahead of their first-round rookie, Jordan Love.

It was that kind of afternoon in a raucous Ford Field. The win lifts the Lions to a 3-13-1 finish, but those three wins came in the final six games. That’s the kind of strong, hopeful finish Campbell wanted. It’s the kind of positive energy and sense of optimism heading into the offseason that feels a whole lot better than where the franchise sat after the 2020 campaign.

Lions vs. Packers Week 18 inactive players: Penei Sewell OUT

Jared Goff will start at QB for Detroit but RT Penei Sewell is out for Week 18

Fans hoping for a 2020 Green Bay Packers backup QB grudge match in the 2021 finale will be disappointed. There will be no Tim Boyle vs. Jordan Love matchup in Detroit in Week 18.

The Lions will roll with regular starter Jared Goff back at the helm after missing the last two weeks. Goff was officially questionable with a knee injury but will start. Boyle will back him up.

Love returned from COVID-19 protocols in time to play, but the Packers have opted to start MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers regardless. There is a chance both Love and Boyle, who battled to back up Rodgers in 2020 in Green Bay (Boyle won the gig), could play but they will not be the QBs of record for the season finale.

Goff will be without his regular right tackle. Rookie Penei Sewell is inactive despite being activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday. Dan Skipper, elevated from the practice squad, is also inactive.

The rest of the Lions inactive players:

And the Packers who will not play, courtesy of the team:

CB Jaire Alexander

S Shawn Davis

RB Aaron Jones

LB De’Vondre Campbell

OL Jake Hanson

DL Jack Heflin

DL Kingsley Keke

Rookie expectations: Detroit Lions rookies have one final game to prove they belong

Detroit Lions rookies have one final game to prove they belong

The rookies of the Detroit Lions have just one more game to prove that they can be building blocks of this team’s future.

While some of these first-year players have already carved out roles for themselves, others have an uphill battle ahead of them if they want to remain a Detroit Lion in 2022.

Here’s what to expect from this group against the Green Bay Packers:

Running back Jermar Jefferson

Jefferson was inactive for the last two games due to the ascension of practice squad hero Craig Reynolds. Even when fourth-string running back Godwin Igwebuike was struggling, Jefferson couldn’t seem to find a way to get in on offense.

If the rookie is inactive again, it may spell the end of his career with the Detroit Lions as it seems more and more clear that they don’t know how to fit him into their future plans.

Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown

After yet another stellar performance last weekend, St. Brown should be able to finish this season as the clear number-one receiver for Detroit.

His versatility has been on full display over the past few weeks as he has been used as both an outside and slot receiver while also taking handoffs in the backfield.

It should be no surprise that St. Brown will get the start against Green Bay. Starting quarterback Jared Goff is expected to return, which bodes well for the rookie receiver.

Tight end Brock Wright

Wright is questionable to play as he has been dealing with a groin injury. The undrafted rookie has had a rough few weeks, being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list for a while and sitting out due to injury upon his reactivation.

If he is able to play, he’s the starting tight end. Wright is a capable blocker and becomes a decent receiving option when Goff is at the helm.

Offensive linemen Penei Sewell, Tommy Kraemer, and Ryan McCollum

Penei Sewell was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list this past Monday but was luckily reactivated on Saturday afternoon.

Heading into the game, Sewell is listed as questionable due to both illness and injury but should be expected to play. He has performed at a high level all season and is without a doubt a starting lineman again next year.

Sewell hasn’t allowed a sack since before the bye week, but penalties have been a struggle for him. He has committed 11 penalties this season, which is tied for most in the NFL.

Kraemer and McCollum have both had to start at some point this season, but shouldn’t be taking the field on offense in this game. Expect these two undrafted rookies to be big bodies on the line for field goals and extra points.

Defensive linemen Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill

With a very up-and-down season for both players, McNeill and Onwuzurike need to step up in a big way against Green Bay.

Onwuzurike, a second-round pick out of Washington, has yet to crack the starting lineup and is instead the backup for veterans Michael Brockers and Nick Williams. Brockers is questionable for this game, so there’s a chance the rookie can see some increased playing time. On just over a third of defensive snaps this season, Onwuzurike has recorded 34 tackles and a sack from the defensive end position.

McNeill should start at nose tackle. He’s coming off one of his best games of the season and will now face one of the league’s top offensive lines. Like his fellow rookie Onwuzurike, McNeill has had his fair share of struggles and has been inconsistent in both playing time and production.

Linebackers Derrick Barnes and Tavante Beckett

There’s an open starting role at inside linebacker for the Detroit Lions and Derrick Barnes has had many opportunities to earn it. Unfortunately, his play has just not been at that level and he lost out to Anthony Pittman last weekend against Seattle.

After taking some harsh criticism from his head coach, the rookie’s final performance of the season will be crucial to his career as a Detroit Lion.

Barnes should be the starter alongside Jalen Reeves-Maybin for this matchup, but the label won’t mean much as he will split his snaps with Pittman. As a run defender and pass-rusher, Barnes has shown plenty of promise. His struggles come when dropping into coverage, where he’s allowed 13 receptions for 153 yards and missed five tackles.

Tavante Beckett was called up from the practice squad once again, but will only see the field as a special teamer, if at all.

Defensive backs Ifeatu Melifonwu, AJ Parker, Mark Gilbert, and Brady Breeze

Melifonwu had a tough assignment last weekend and struggled to cover the Seahawks’ D.K. Metcalf. The rookie cornerback easily allowed two touchdowns against him in the blowout loss. Now he’s up against the dynamic duo of Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. Melifonwu will start, but there isn’t much optimism about his ability to succeed in this situation.

Parker will be Detroit’s starting nickel corner as he has been for most of the season. Parker has shown flashes of potential, but at the end of the day is an undrafted rookie with a lot of room to grow.

Both Gilbert and Breeze have been better than expected while playing in limited roles on defense this season. The two will be core special teamers and provide meaningful depth should any more members of the3 secondary get hurt.

Kicker Riley Patterson

Patterson missed the first kick of his career last weekend but that shouldn’t discourage anyone. The rookie has been almost perfect in every aspect and has already proven to be reliable when his leg is needed. This game will be his final audition for the starting role for next season, so he will need to ensure he keeps up that same level of play.

Lions vs. Seahawks: Everything we know from Week 17

Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks: Score, stats, keys to the game, top Lions players and more

It was not a successful final road trip for the 2021 season for the Detroit Lions. The Week 17 visit to Seattle produced one of the most lopsided losses of a season where Detroit has now fallen to a 2-13-1 record with one game left to play.

For the most succinct recap of the Seahawks’ 51-29 win, in the above sentence, I typed the 2-13-1 as 2-31-1 — twice — and it felt appropriate. That’s how this game felt.

With Dan Campbell’s Lions starting deep reserves, practice squad call-ups and players who will likely never cash another NFL paycheck after this season in far too many key roles all over the lineup, it wasn’t really much of a contest. Seattle surged out to an early double-digit lead and the Lions never threatened to win thereafter.

Overmatched, undermanned Lions hammered in Seattle in Week 17 blowout

Overmatched, undermanned Detroit Lions team gets hammered in Seattle in a Week 17 blowout

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Sunday’s trip to Seattle to face the Seahawks felt a lot more like a preseason game than a Week 17 contest.

Through that prism, the blowout 51-29 loss is a little more palatable. If the focus of the game was to see what the bottom-of-the-roster and practice squad players thrust into starting roles all over the Lions lineup could do, we did get some answers there. And not all of them were negatives, though there were a lot more nays than yeas.

In terms of an actual competitive football game, the Lions had no chance. Starting seven rookies overall and without over a dozen regulars from even six weeks ago, the undermanned Lions had no real chance. Tim Boyle at QB throwing to KhaDarel Hodge as the top outside receiver, with Tommy Kraemer starting at right guard and a tight end, Jared Pinkney, who was on the Rams practice squad on Monday, yeah … it went exactly as you might expect.

And that meager offense was handily the better of Detroit’s two units in Seattle. Demoted safety Will Harris was the Lions’ top cornerback and played exactly as you’d expect a player often tabbed as the NFL’s worst coverage safety might while trying to cover talented Seahawks WR DK Metcalf. Metcalf scored three touchdowns — one versus the other Lions starting CB, rookie Ifeatu Melifonwu, who would normally be 6th on the depth chart. It didn’t help that the pass rush, prominently featuring backups Austin Bryant and Julian Okwara, did very little to impact QB Russell Wilson all day.

The coverage was unacceptable, even for practice squad refugees. The tackling was even worse, and that was a problem for the few regulars (LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin, DT John Penisini, DE Levi Onwuzurike, S Dean Marlowe) who were in the lineup too.

Dan Campbell’s team did not pack it in. True to their head coach’s character, they fought hard. There just wasn’t any juice to squeeze out of the lemon of a roster the dilapidated Lions took with them to Seattle. It wasn’t unexpected given the myriad injuries, but it was still little consolation to see random guys in Lions uniforms getting so thoroughly outclassed by the worst Seahawks team since Matt Millen was running the Lions.

There were bright spots for Detroit. Amon-Ra St. Brown continues to look like a legit weapon without having any real help at all at wide receiver. Left tackle Taylor Decker caught a touchdown pass. The play designs and playcalling continue to look better than they did earlier in the season, showing more aggression and creativity. D’Andre Swift returned to the lineup and didn’t get hurt again.

That’s the feel of the final preseason game. It’s not a good feeling in January.

Watch: Lions LT Taylor Decker hauls in a touchdown catch vs. Seahawks

Watch: Lions LT Taylor Decker hauls in touchdown catch vs. Seahawks

It’s not been a game with many highlights for the Detroit Lions, but the team got one of the most fun ones of the season in the third quarter of Sunday’s game in Seattle.

Left tackle Taylor Decker hauled in a touchdown reception on a tackle-eligible play, snatching a throw from QB Tim Boyle out of the air for his second career touchdown. It was a nice catch, with Decker showing soft hands and good catchpoint strength for an offensive lineman.

The Lions had tried a similar play to backup OT Matt Nelson earlier and it failed when Nelson bobbled the ball away. Decker was not to be denied:

The ensuing conversion narrowed the deficit to 38-22. It was a much-needed jolt of fun and energy in what had been a dismal afternoon for Detroit.

Lions Week 17 inactive players include QB Jared Goff

Lions Week 17 inactive players vs. the Seahawks include QB Jared Goff

After being listed as doubtful to play in Detroit’s Week 17 matchup with the Seattle Seahawks, the Lions officially ruled out quarterback Jared Goff for Sunday’s game. Goff is one of the Lions’ seven inactive players for the late-afternoon kickoff.

Goff will miss his second straight game, this time with a knee injury. He was out for Week 16 while on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Tim Boyle will start in his place.

The other inactive players for the Lions don’t feature any surprises.

OLB Rashod Berry

FB Jason Cabinda

DE Jashon Cornell

S Jalen Elliott

OT Will Holden

RB Jermar Jefferson

Berry was ruled out on Saturday with an illness. Cabinda and Holden have been injured. Cornell was activated from the team’s non-football injury/illness list this week but will not make his 2021 debut in the penultimate game.

Lions rookie expectations: St. Brown poised for breakout game

Lions rookie expectations: St. Brown poised for breakout game

No team in the NFL has had great luck regarding both injuries and COVID-19 issues. The same goes for the Detroit Lions, who are missing double-digit starters due to these aforementioned issues.

To remedy that situation, Detroit has had to ask a lot of their 2021 rookie class this season. Many of these young and inexperienced players have been thrown into starting roles and will need to play well if the Lions plan to beat the Seattle Seahawks.

Wide receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown and Javon McKinley

No player has been better set up for success than rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown.

The Lions recently placed receivers Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond, as well as tight end Brock Wright, on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. With all of the other top options out, St. Brown is poised to have a huge game.

Backup quarterback Tim Boyle is expected to start in place of the injured Jared Goff, but this won’t negatively impact St. Brown. The two have connected 13 times for 109 yards and a touchdown in the two games where Boyle has started.

With no other reliable receiving options, expect St. Brown to be the first read on most plays. Odds are, the rookie won’t be leaving the field when Detroit is on offense.

Undrafted rookie Javon McKinley was just called up from the practice squad and will serve as extra depth at the wide receiver position. He will likely be the last man on the depth chart and, if active, will mostly play on special teams.

Running back Jermar Jefferson

Jefferson has been the odd man out in the running back room all season and will be even more so against Seattle. The rookie has been inactive for multiple games this year and has now been pushed even farther down the depth chart due to the emergence of Craig Reynolds.

Now with D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams both back and healthy, Jefferson may not play another snap in 2021.

Offensive linemen Penei Sewell, Ryan McCollum, and Tommy Kraemer

There’s not much left to say about Penei Sewell. The 2021 first-round draft pick has been playing at an elite level at right tackle while facing off against some of the NFL’s top pass-rushers. With a fully healthy offensive line, Sewell should have a great game against Seattle.

As mentioned earlier, all five starters for the offensive line are healthy and ready to play. This means that backups Ryan McCollum and Tommy Kraemer won’t likely see the field other than on field goal and extra point attempts.

Defensive linemen Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill

There’s a bit of mystery surrounding these two rookie defensive linemen as both are facing the same dilemma. McNeill and Onwuzurike have played well in limited roles but have not been able to surpass several veteran players.

Things may change for Onwuzurike as starting defensive end Michael Brockers is out on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. The second-round pick out of Washington has played in all but the first game of the season and has 31 tackles and one sack to his name.

McNeill will share his reps at nose tackle with John Penisini but expect the rookie to see some extended looks on defense after his strong performance last weekend.

Good news for both rookies – The Seahawks have allowed the fifth-most sacks in the league this season. If the two want the chance to prove they can be long-term starters on the defensive line, this is their best opportunity.

Linebackers Derrick Barnes and Tavante Beckett

With Alex Anzalone and Josh Woods on injured reserve, Derrick Barnes has the chance to start at inside linebacker. The issue he faces is that the coaching staff does not seem to have confidence in him holding a bigger role. Barnes earned his first career sack on the first play of the game against Atlanta last weekend but failed to do much else.

Barnes has shown promise against the run and as a pass-rusher from the inside, but it is clear that he is not ready to drop into coverage against NFL talent.

In college, Barnes only had one season of experience at off-ball linebacker and may need some more time to adjust to the position. Expect the Lions to alternate between him and Anthony Pittman at middle linebacker alongside Jalen Reeves-Maybin.

Tavante Beckett was called up front he practice squad for the second week in a row. He was only used on special teams in his first bout of NFL action and the same can be expected from him this time around.

Defensive backs Ifeatu Melifonwu, AJ Parker, Mark Gilbert, and Brady Breeze.

With very few bodies left at the cornerback position, the Lions have turned to rookie Ifeatu Melifonwu to start at outside cornerback.

Melifonwu took every single snap on defense against the Falcons last week and is expected to again against the Seahawks. His performance was not the best, as he allowed three-of-four passes that came his way to be caught for an average of 22.7 yards.

Up against Russell Wilson and the volatile duo of D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, Melifonwu hopefully can learn form his past mistakes and rise to the occasion.

Nickel cornerback AJ Parker should once again start at that position. The undrafted rookie has exceeded any and all expectations, amassing 43 tackles, one interception, and six pass breakups over the course of 11 games.

Rookies Mark Gilbert and Brady Breeze will serve as backups ta cornerback and safety, respectively. The two will primarily serve as special teamers on kickoffs and kick returns.

Kicker Riley Patterson

The Detroit Lions have finally found the answer to their kicking woes this season, and his name is Riley Patterson.

The rookie out of Memphis has been perfect on all 19 field goal and extra point attempts that he’s had over the course of five games.