Detroit Lions conquer Lambeau Field, eliminating Green Bay from playoff contention

Lions finish season with winning record for first time since 2016

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 08: Aidan Hutchinson #97 of the Detroit Lions sacks Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers during the first quarter at Lambeau Field on January 08, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) (Stacy Revere, 2023 Getty Images)

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Detroit Lions turned their house of horrors into their kingdom as they eliminated Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers 20-16 at Lambeau Field.

Jared Goff

The Lions had key contributions from their young core during Sunday Night Football, but the leadership of quarterback Jared Goff proved pivotal.

“This team is built through adversity, and it showed tonight,” said Goff. “This team should never win in these conditions on the road at Lambeau, and we came out here and did it.”

Goff finished without an interception for the ninth game in a row as he completed 22-34 for 224 yards and no touchdowns. Sunday’s victory under the lights was also the first time the Lions won at Lambeau Field while trailing in the fourth quarter since 1991.

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 08: Jared Goff #16 of the Detroit Lions greets fans after defeating the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 08, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) (2023 Getty Images)

Jamaal Williams

Speaking of 1991, running back Jamaal Williams broke Lions legend Barry Sanders’ record set in 1991 for most touchdowns in a season with 17.

“My great grandfather died on me, and I just dedicate this to him,” said a tearful Williams after the game. “I’m just grateful to do this for him as he was 92, but I’m just grateful for him being in my life, and I’m thankful to be able to play football and to do this for him. So there’s a lot of memories and a lot of emotions happening right now, but I’m just grateful to be able to play this game for my great-grandfather, and I’m glad that he’s looking down on me, and I’m glad that I’m making him proud.”

Williams continued:

“This is for him, and also, stop playing us, man. We’re the Detroit Lions. Stop playing with us. I don’t even watch TV. I heard everybody pick the Packers over us. That’s all I’ve got to say. Don’t let these tears fool you because it’s all dog around this mug.”

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 08: Jamaal Williams #30 of the Detroit Lions celebrates with teammates after a touchdown during the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 08, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) (2023 Getty Images)

Williams toted the rock 16 times for 72 yards and two scores to lift the Lions above .500 to finish the season.

“Hey Jamaal, Barry Sanders here, and I just wanted to congratulate you on an awesome year and for breaking my record, which was the most rushing touchdowns by a Detroit Lion in a single season,” said Sanders. “Awesome job, man. You’ve been a big part of the success this year, and I know you’re just getting started. Great job.”

Detroit Lions Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders (20) carries the ball during a 24-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikins on October 6, 1991, at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. (Photo by Betsy Peabody Rowe/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

The Lions finished 9-8 on the season and came one game shy of making the seventh and final playoff spot in the NFC behind the Seattle Seahawks (Thanks Baker Mayfield), but it was their 1-6 start to the season that all but did them in early.

But Lions fans should have much to forward to ahead of the 2023 season.

“I’m just so proud of our guys,” Goff said. “We didn’t make the playoffs, but this is the next best thing and being able to finish the season the way that we did and starting the season off that way, coming through like this in the last 10 games or whatever, we got some special people in that locker room, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

“We knew what we were coming in here for, and it was to gain some respect and show what we’re capable of,” said head coach Dan Campbell. “We knew the only way to do that was to win. The guys were locked in because we knew what the objective was.”

Campbell continued:

“I love the foundation of this team, and I love the youth and the veterans that we have. The guys that we have re-signed here and the guys that we plan on re-signing, but the guys that are here are the people that fit us, but we got to start all over again. We have the team that can compete, and we’re going to get better.”

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 08: Head coach Dan Campbell of the Detroit Lions is seen on the field prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 08, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) (2023 Getty Images)

Rookie playmakers

The foundation looks fantastic, and the fanbase should be proud of what Detroit had established this season, especially during the draft when they selected Aidan Hutchinson as the No. 2 overall pick and safety Kerby Joseph in the third round at No. 97 as they’ve made vital contributions on the season.

Joseph finished the season with five solo tackles and an interception to become the first player ever to pick off Rodgers three times in one season.

Detroit Lions safety Kerby Joseph (31) breaks up a pass intended for Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash) (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Hutchinson had four total tackles, three solo tackles, and two sacks on Rodgers to end the year with 9.5 sacks, three interceptions, and 52 tackles, making his case for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

“Detroit’s got some of the best fans,” said Hutchinson. “We didn’t control our own destiny. We needed the Seahawks to lose, and they won. We came together out there and were just having fun, and it showed.”

Hutchinson continued:

“It’s his (Dan Campbell’s) culture and grit. He’s been here for two years now, and it’s starting to be ingrained in every one of these classes and all of the guys that are here, so we show it every time we come out here, and we showed it today too. It’s a damn shame we didn’t get in the playoffs, but if we didn’t start off so bad early in the season, be more consistent and do it as we have all of the talent.”

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 08: Aidan Hutchinson #97 of the Detroit Lions sacks Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers during the first quarter at Lambeau Field on January 08, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) (2023 Getty Images)

Although the year didn’t end the way Lions fans had hoped, remember that Detroit has the Rams’ 2023 draft pick, which will be at No. 6, and they have their own at No. 18.

But moral victories are for minor league coaches, and to most, having a winning record to end the season is a success, but sadly it is not. A great season would be to make a run in the postseason, make it to a Super Bowl, and hopefully, one day win the Lombardy trophy, which has yet to be seen in Detroit.

The future is looking up for One Pride. Let’s see if the Lions can continue to build in the offseason. Let’s see what they can do with two top 20 draft picks and free agency.


About the Author:

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.