The Green Bay Packers had their destiny in their hands but couldn’t win at home with the season on the line as they fell to the Detroit Lions 20-16.

Former Packers running back Jamaal Williams ran for two touchdowns while the Packers offense continued to fail to turn chances into touchdowns.

The loss means the Packers finish the season in third place in the NFC North with an 8-9 record and they will not make the playoffs. The Lions swept the Packers this season and finished with a 9-8 record.

Here are 10 things we learned from the Packers 20-16 loss to the Lions:

  1. The Packers Offense Continues to Struggle to Score Touchdowns

The Packers moved the ball very well until they got close enough to score points. Officially, the Packers were 1-of-2 in the red zone but six of their nine drives ended in Lions territory and they only came away with one touchdown in this game.

If just one of those four field goal attempts turns into a touchdown the Packers likely win the football game or at least send it to overtime.

The Packers just couldn’t finish what they started and the offensive inconsistency in Detroit territory was one of the biggest factors in the team’s failure to win this football game.

  1. Aaron Rodgers Was Not Good Enough

Rodgers was playing through a painful thumb injury and got hit far too often in this game, but he simply didn’t play well enough to win it.

The future Hall of Famer finished the game by completing 17-of-27 passes for 205 yards. He threw one touchdown pass and one interception and had a quarterback rating of 83.1.

Those are average quarterback numbers but there were still too many inaccurate throws and misses of open receivers by Rodgers. To be fair, there were some drops including a pair by Romeo Doubs and one by A.J. Dillon.

But Rodgers is being paid $50 million this season and he just didn’t play at the high level we’ve come to expect from him. When the chips were down and the season was on the line, he was average and that wasn’t good enough.

  1. Quay Walker and Rasul Douglas Made a Really Stupid Mistakes

For the second time this season, rookie ILB Quay Walker was ejected from a game for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. This one was particularly foolish as the former Georgia star pushed one of the Lions athletic trainers which cost the Packers 15 yards at a crucial time during the Lions game-winning touchdown drive with about 6:00 left in the game.

There is no reason to push a trainer who is trying to tend to an injured player. Walker let his emotions get the best of him for the second time this year. He must do a better job keeping his temper in check in the future.

Hopefully, this is a maturity issue and the youngster grows out of it. This week, he cost the Packers valuable yards, momentum and his services for the rest of the game.

Veteran cornerback Rasul Douglas also made a foolish play late in the first half that likely cost the Packers three points before halftime. Douglas moved to pick up the ball at the line of scrimmage after a whistle blew before the ball was snapped which was bizarre, but he took a swing at a Lions player after he touched the ball and players were pushing and shoving.

The Lions would have had to attempt a 48-yard field goal on a cold Wisconsin evening in January to get three points. Their kicker, Michael Badgley, had already missed one from a similar distance earlier in the game.

Instead, the additional 15 yards made it a 33-yard field goal which the kicker made with ease. That pulled the Lions to within 9-6 at the half but also gave them more momentum heading into the locker room.

  1. Christian Watson Finished Strong

On the flip side, Christian Watson made an incredible catch and finished the season with one more strong performance, catching five passes on six targets for 104 yards.

His 45-yard catch required amazing concentration and he showed that with a little more experience, he could be a very dangerous pass catcher very soon.

Watson’s strong finish to the season was a catalyst for the Packers late season-playoff push and he has a very bright future.

  1. Turnovers Hurt the Packers

The Packers lost the turnover battle 2-0 and were fortunate it wasn’t worse as one badly thrown interception by Rodgers was called back because of a penalty.

Aaron Jones also fumbled at a key time in the game with 1:16 left in the half and the Packers driving to increase their 9-3 lead.

Jones held the ball in the wrong hand and lost his fifth fumble of the season. Even a field goal would have given the Packers a two-score lead at the break. Instead, the Lions turned the turnover into three points of their own and made it 9-6 at the half.

  1. The Lions Offensive Line Wore the Packers Defense Down

In the fourth quarter with the game on the line, the Detroit offensive line took control of the line of scrimmage and held the ball for 11:30 while the Packers had the ball for just 3:30. The trenches belonged to the Lions offensive line and Detroit used some successful trick plays to keep the chains moving late.

The Packers couldn’t stop the Lions on their go-ahead touchdown drive which lasted 13 plays for 70 yards and ate up 8:03 of game time. Rodgers threw an interception on the next drive while the Packers were still on their own half of the field and the defense never was able to stop Detroit and get the ball back.

  1. Matt LaFleur Got Too Cute on 4th Down

The Packers led 3-0 early and forced a three-and-out on the Lions first offensive possession of the game. Then, inexplicably, the Packers decided to go for it on 4th-and-1 at their own 32-yard line.

Matt LaFleur got cute and called an end around to Allen Lazard, a wide receiver not exactly considered a burner. The trick play didn’t fool the defense and Lazard was stuffed for a one-yard loss.

The Lions took over at the Green Bay 31 and although they gained only one yard on the drive, the Lions were able to kick a field goal and tie the game 3-3.

Detroit didn’t have to earn these three points they were just handed to them. The Packers lost momentum and had to regroup after this. Because the offense struggled to score throughout the game, those points were too precious to give back to Detroit to easily.

  1. Packers Offense Struggled On Third Downs

The Packers offense struggled on third downs in this game, especially in the first half when they went just 1-for-6. They finished the game 4-of-12 for a disappointing 33 percent success rate. This failure to sustain drives hurt the team and they only managed 16 points today and 25 points in two games against Detroit.

Keep in mind the Lions defense was ranked dead last in the league entering this game in yards allowed and 29th in points allowed. For two games, however, and in this one when it counted, the Packers offense made Detroit’s defense look strong.

  1. Was This Aaron Rodgers’ Last Game as a Packer?

Rodgers certainly looked emotional as he headed off the field with Randall Cobb. Rodgers now has a decision to make as to whether he returns for another season in 2023 or if this is the end of his career in Green Bay. He may decide to retire, may demand a trade or may return to the Packers for another season.

The speculation that Rodgers may retire was fueled even further when a Lions player asked for his jersey and the quarterback said he may want to hold on to this one.

The offseason drama that has been an issue over the past two years has yet another chapter in the coming months.

If this was the last game AR-12 plays with the Pack, he certainly didn’t go out on a high note.

  1. The Packers Didn’t Deserve To Make the Playoffs

The Packers won four straight and got a lot of help to control their own destiny in this season finale. Everything broke their way and they had the game at home on national television. But the Pack couldn’t close the deal.

Looking back at the season, this team was just not consistently good enough to make the playoffs. At different times this season, the offense, defense and special teams all had major breakdowns and poor performances. The Packers were never dominant and just too inconsistent over 17 games to deserve a playoff berth.

The offseason begins now. We know the Packers will have the 15th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and will play a third-place schedule next season.



Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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