Who would’ve thought it would come down to this? Beat the Detroit Lions in Week 18 at home, and the Green Bay Packers are in the playoffs. Sounds easy, but that wasn’t the case back in Week 9 when the Packers fell to 3-6.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers may have hit rock bottom against the Detroit Lions in Week 9
Things already weren’t going so well for the Packers as they braced for their Week 9 meeting with the Lions. They came into the game with a 3-5 record and a sputtering offense. They left 3-6 and Rodgers had his worst game of the season.
The Packers rode a four-game losing streak into Detroit that included a 10-point output against the New York Jets in a 27-10 loss. The Lions, however, were expected to be the cure to Green Bay’s offensive woes. It turned out to be the other way around.
Detroit took a five-game losing streak and a 1-6 record into the game. The Lions surrendered 32 points per game during that five-game stretch. Green Bay was able to move the ball downfield against the Lions, but came up empty several times.
Rodgers threw three interceptions that game, two coming after the Packers marched right down the field. He finished with a 53.5 quarterback rating. Green Bay finished the game without a touchdown in an ugly 15-9 loss. The Packers also saw Romeo Doubs, their promising young wide receiver, go down with an ankle injury. He never returned.
The Lions went on to win five of their next six games. Green Bay lose two of its next three to fall to 4-8. The Packers have since won four straight to set up a win-and-get-in rematch with the Lions on the final weekend of the regular season.
Rodgers and the Packers seek sweet revenge on the Lions
Sunday’s convincing 41-17 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, combined with the Cleveland Browns win over the Washington Commanders, put Green Bay in a perfect spot. If Green Bay tops the Lions this week, the Packers are in the playoffs.
None of that seemed possible a month ago.
“It feels really special, it does,” Rodgers said after the win over the Vikings, per ESPN. “It’s been an interesting year. It hasn’t been my best football at times, but I’ve been asked to step up my leadership and be someone the guys can count on to keep it together, even when it doesn’t seem like there’s anything to play for or we don’t have a chance to make a run. There’s been a lot of special moments throughout the year.”
It won’t be easy because the Lions have been one of the best teams in the second half of the season. Rodgers and the Packers have a golden opportunity to avenge what might be their worst outing of the year. If they do, they’ll be one of the hottest teams heading into the postseason.
“It didn’t look great for a while,” Rodgers said. “And I was resigned to some of those realities being possible. And when I took my mind there, I had a peace about it. I had a peace about all of it. Whatever was supposed to happen, I was surrendered to that reality — with also the resolute mindset that we could still get back in this thing.
“And I think that’s what I’m most proud of, for myself and our team, is that there were a lot of different things that could happen, and we stuck together and we put ourselves in position to do something special.”