Packers Control Path to Division
Tucker (Andrew Weber - USA Today Sports)
Tucker (Andrew Weber - USA Today Sports)
with Packer Report
Posted Dec 17, 2013


With Baltimore shocking Detroit on a 61-yard field goal and clinching interception, Green Bay is in position to win the NFC North by winning its final two games.

Win and they’re in.

The Green Bay Packers have survived an 0-4-1 slump and the continued absence of superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers to take control of the NFC North, thanks to slumping Detroit’s loss to Baltimore.

Chicago (8-6) is in first place in the division with Green Bay (7-6-1) on the Bears’ heels after back-to-back second-half comebacks. If the Packers can beat the Steelers (6-8) at Lambeau Field on Sunday and Chicago in the regular-season finale, they’d win their third consecutive NFC North championship.

At Ford Field on Monday night, Justin Tucker's career-long 61-yard field goal with 38 seconds left lifted the Ravens to an 18-16 win over the Lions in a matchup with major playoff implications.

Detroit fell to 7-7.

Ravens rookie safety Matt Elam sealed the victory with an interception — Matthew Stafford's third of the night.

Stafford threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Fauria with 2:21 left, putting Detroit ahead 16-15. But the Lions were unable to make a 2-point conversion and couldn't prevent Baltimore from setting up its sensational kicker for his sixth field goal of the game and 33rd in a row.

Tucker's kick went just inside the right upright and barely had enough distance, eight days after Denver's Matt Prater broke the NFL record with a 64-yard field goal.

"Didn't get all of it, got enough of it," Tucker said. "Just glad to get out of here with a victory at a time when the team needed one."

Tucker, who hasn't missed a field goal since he was 0 for 2 in Week 2 at Cleveland, has the NFL's longest streak since Matt Stover made 36 in a row for the Ravens from 2005-06, according to STATS.

Detroit (7-7) has hurt its playoff chances by losing four of its last five, falling out of sole possession of first place in the NFC North to third place behind the division-leading Bears and Green Bay.

Stafford's three interceptions followed a troubling trend for the franchise.

He has 12 interceptions in his last five games. Not coincidently, the Lions have been able to overcome those miscues well enough to win only one game during the slump.

Joe Flacco, meanwhile, didn't turn the ball over and made enough subtle moves in and around the pocket to get sacked only once. He has been sacked a career-high 42 times this season, but he stayed upright enough to move the ball into position for Tucker's big kick.

The Lions started strong, with Reggie Bush running for a 14-yard touchdown on the opening drive, then held Baltimore to a three-and-out.

Detroit, though, got in its own way as it often has this year.

Calvin Johnson dropped a pass that would've converted a third-and-15 deep in Ravens territory to force the Lions to punt for the first of four times before halftime.

On the ensuing drive, Tucker kicked his first of three field goals in the first half — two of which were set up by penalties against Detroit.

Tucker's next field goal was set up by a pass-interference call against safety Don Carey.

Johnson couldn't catch another pass in Baltimore territory thrown at him late in the first half.

The Ravens took advantage of that mistake and one by Detroit's defense on the next drive.

Flacco threw an up-for-grabs pass on third-and-8 from the Lions 44 after avoiding a sack, and the incomplete pass was negated by Louis Delmas' helmet-to-helmet hit on Marlon Brown with 16 seconds left in the first half. That flag put the Ravens 15 yards closer to Tucker's field goal that gave Baltimore a 9-7 lead at halftime.

Detroit drove to the Ravens 31 on its first possession of the second half, but Stafford threw a pass behind Bush that was picked off by defensive end DeAngelo Tyson.

Baltimore went ahead 12-7 on the next drive on Tucker's 49-yard field goal midway through the third quarter.

The Lions scored on the ensuing drive — on David Akers' 40-yard kick — for the first time since the opening minutes of the game. The field goal came after Stafford's pass into the end zone fell incomplete. A replay showed Detroit receiver Kris Durham had his arm held on the play by Lardarius Webb, but there was no penalty flag for pass interference.

Tucker's 53-yard field goal — matching his previous season high — put the Ravens ahead 15-10 with 8:06 left.

Detroit responded with its best drive since its first one. The Lions might have caught a break from the officials when Brandon Pettigrew's catch was upheld after review.


Find Genaro Armas on Twitter at twitter.com/GArmasAP.



Related Stories
Defense Overcomes Big Issues with Big Plays
 -by PackerReport.com  Dec 16, 2013
Next Comeback: Postseason
 -by PackerReport.com  Dec 16, 2013
No Time for Crying for Cowboys
 -by PackerReport.com  Dec 16, 2013

MAGAZINE COVERAGE
Subscribe today and get a full year of Packer Report Magazine with an annual Total Access Pass.
Sign Up Today!

Upgrade Now!
Free Email Newsletter
Don't miss any news or features from PackerReport.com. Subscribe to our newsletter to have our newest articles emailed to you on a daily or weekly basis.
Click here for a list of all Team Newsletters.

Add Topics to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite topics. Click link to add to My HotList.
Football > Green Bay
[View My HotList]