DETROIT (AP) — Aaron Rodgers ran for a tiebreaking score in the third quarter and threw three touchdown passes and the Green Bay Packers beat the Detroit Lions 31-24 Sunday and clinched the NFC North title.
The Packers (10-3) knocked Matthew Stafford out of the game with a rib injury in the fourth quarter and went on to win their third straight game and second straight division championship. The Packers clinched the division with the win and Minnesota’s loss to Tampa Bay earlier in the day.
The Packers’ win combined with the Saints’ loss in Philadelphia gives Green Bay the top seed in the NFC. The teams are both 10-3, but the Packers beat the Saints earlier this season.
The Lions (5-8) scored first and pulled into a tie late in the second quarter, but they simply couldn’t stop Rodgers.
The two-time MVP completed his first eight passes for 119 yards and two scores. Rodgers finished 26 of 33 for 290 yards, three TDs and did not throw an interception for a third straight game. He ran 6 yards, untouched, to put the Packers ahead 21-14 for his 30th career rushing TD to break Tobin Rote’s team record for a quarterback.
Green Bay receiver Davante Adams also broke a franchise record.
He extended his touchdown reception streak to eight games, turning a short pass from Rodgers into a 56-yard touchdown to pull into a 7-all tie in the first quarter. Adams broke the franchise record set by Hall of Famer Don Hutson, who had a pair of seven-game streaks in the 1940s. He finished with seven catches for 115 yards and Green Bay tight end Robert Tonyan had his ninth TD reception of the season.
Stafford went toward the team’s locker room in the fourth, returned to the field to throw some passes, then retreated out of view again.
Chase Daniel replaced Stafford and led a drive that ended with Matt Prater’s 32-yard field goal with 1:49 left to pull the Lions within seven points. The Lions’ comeback hopes were dashed when the ensuing onside kick didn’t go 10 yards and Rodgers completed a pass to convert a third down on his final possession.
Detroit opened the game with an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive capped by Stafford’s 1-yard shovel pass to T.J. Hockenson.
Rodgers responded with the TD pass to Adams. He also threw a 14-yard TD pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s back shoulder to put the Packers ahead 14-7 in the opening minute of the second quarter.
Detroit rookie D’Andre Swift scored on a 3-yard run to tie the game at 14 late in the first half.
Rodgers directed a 14-play possession and took advantage of penalties to open the second half and his 6-yard run gave Green Bay a 21-14 lead. The Packers ran 21 plays in the third for 143 yards while the Lions had just three snaps on offense and gained just 4 yards.
Kerryon Johnson scored on a 2-yard run with 6:30 left in the game to end a 13-play drive and cut Detroit’s deficit to 28-21.
Green Bay made it a two-score game with 3:30 remaining on Mason Crosby’s 57-yard field goal.
Packers: CB Chandon Sullivan (hip) was hurt during the game.
Lions: Stafford hurt his ribs and CB Darryl Roberts left the game with a hip injury in the third quarter.
Packers: Host the Carolina Panthers (4-9) on Saturday night.
Lions: Play at the AFC South-leading Tennessee Titans (9-4).