GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Detroit Lions went toe-to-toe with the Green Bay Packers in the first half of the NFC North matchup on Monday Night Football, but as heavy rains drenched Lambeau Field in the third and fourth quarters, the Lions melted like the Wicked Witch of the West.
Unfazed by the increasingly inclement conditions, the perennial powerhouse Packers scored 21 unanswered points in the second half, smacking the feisty Lions back to the reality of their in-progress rebuild with a 35-17 victory.
Despite entering the night a double-digit underdog, the Lions jumped out to a lead at the half and looked as if they might be able to pull off a stunning upset in coach Dan Campbell's second game, in front of a national television audience.
Bucking the league-wide trend of deferring to the second half upon winning the coin toss, the Lions asked for the ball and subsequently opened the night with a 75-yard touchdown drive.
Quarterback Jared Goff, kickstarting an outstanding first half, completed all four of his passes, including a 46-yard heave to Quintez Cephus into Packers' territory. Once in the red zone, Goff remained calm as the Packers' pass rush closed in around him, finding Cephus wide open after Green Bay blew the coverage.
The Packers wasted little time responding, setting a physical tone with three consecutive handoffs to Aaron Jones to open the series. He also would finish the possession, coming in motion from the right side and taking a tap pass around the left edge for a 4-yard touchdown.
The tempo would slow a bit to begin the second quarter as Detroit's second possession was undone by 34 penalty yards. But the defense responded by forcing the Packers to go three-and-out when defensive tackle Nick Williams sacked quarterback Aaron Rodgers on third down.
Settling down, the Lions recaptured the lead with a methodical, run-heavy drive. A 15-yard face mask penalty against the Packers also aided the Lions, setting up a pretty, 8-yard touchdown pass from Goff to tight end T.J. Hockenson, who fully extended to make the tough grab near the back of the end zone.
Again, the Packers would counter, bullying their way down the field after a 41-yard kickoff return provided Rodgers and company a short field.
Mixing between-the-tackle runs with quick passes, the Packers quickly found themselves on the doorstep when Jones leaked out of the backfield for a 1-yard touchdown reception, his second of the game.