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- American football player and coach
The No. 1 overall pick was there for the taking, but the Detroit Lions had other plans.
D’Andre Swift scored the winning touchdown on a 14-yard run with 1:54 to play and the Lions executed two trick plays to perfection for long touchdowns as they beat the Green Bay Packers, 37-30, at Ford Field to end their first season under Dan Campbell on a high note.
"I did think we played some of our best football," Campbell said. "There’s still a lot that we always want to be able to correct and it'll never be perfect, but we said we wanted to go take the hard road one more time, and our guys did that. They really did. They came out and competed and earned that win. I was proud of them.”
The Lions (3-13-1) won three of their final six games after starting the season 0-8. They finished in last place in the NFC North for the fourth straight season, but won multiple division games for the first time since 2018 and outplayed the Packers' starters in the first half.
With the No. 1 seed in the NFC wrapped up, Green Bay sat quarterback Aaron Rodgers, receiver Davante Adams and several key defensive starters for the second half.
The Lions entered Sunday in control of the second pick in April’s NFL draft, but could have moved to No. 1 with a loss and a Jacksonville Jaguars upset of the Indianapolis Colts.
The Jaguars beat the Colts, 26-11, to clinch the first pick for the second straight year. The Lions will pick second for the third time since 2007.
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"(Winning this game) definitely gives us that confidence to go into next year understanding where we stand at right now and where we can continue to build on," Lions safety Tracy Walker said. "And right now, man, it’s just kind of up from here, you know what I mean? Like I said, the main thing for us is we were trying to establish a foundation this year and we finished out the season the right way that we wanted to. So looking forward to next year where we’re going to continue to build.”
The Packers scored the go-ahead touchdown Sunday with 4:49 left in the fourth quarter, when Walker missed a tackle on a tight end screen and Josiah Deguara rumbled 62 yards for a touchdown.
But Jared Goff led his second winning drive in six weeks, taking the Lions 75 yards in six plays for a 34-30 lead.
Goff completed passes of 28 and 15 yards to Amon-Ra St. Brown and Brock Wright on the drive, and Swift scored on the first play after the two-minute warning.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin tipped a Jordan Love pass at the line of scrimmage on the next series that C.J. Moore intercepted and returned to the Green Bay 15. Riley Patterson made a 27-yard field goal for insurance, and Walker picked off a desperation Love heave with 21 seconds left to clinch the Lions’ first win over the Packers since the final week of the 2018 season.
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Goff, who made his first start since suffering a bone bruise in the Lions’ Week 15 win over the Arizona Cardinals, finished 21-for-30 passing for 238 yards with two touchdowns. St. Brown added eight catches for 109 yards and a touchdown for the Lions — his sixth straight game with at least eight catches, extending his franchise rookie record — and Kalif Raymond added four catches for 101 yards and a score.
"Our first half of the season was not great," Goff said. "The second half of the season was better and the last four or five games in particular were really pretty good. And we feel that energy and that’s kind of the way we wanted to finish it. I think today is exactly how you draw it up. We’re able to score a lot of points, won the game, good team. I know they didn’t have all of their dudes out there, but still a good team, win the game."
The Lions scored their first touchdown Sunday on a well-designed trick play late in the first quarter, when receiver Tom Kennedy threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Raymond.
Goff started the play by faking a pitch to Raymond, who lined up as a running back in the backfield. St. Brown took an inside handoff, then tossed the ball to Kennedy, the former pro lacrosse player, who threw a perfect strike to a wide-open Raymond.
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) January 9, 2022
The Lions led 17-13 at halftime, after Goff threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to St. Brown and Patterson made a 34-yard field goal, then scored on another trick play on their second possession of the third quarter, when Goff found Wright for a 36-yard touchdown off a reverse.
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) January 9, 2022
The Lions set an NFL record for most fourth-down conversion attempts and makes in a season, converting two of three Sunday to improve to 21-for-41 on the season. St. Brown set a franchise record for most receiving yards (912) by a rookie.
Rodgers completed 14 of 18 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns in his one half of work, and Adams had six catches for 55 yards for the Packers (13-4). Green Bay has a first-round playoff bye next week.
"I’d like to be able to close that game out (earlier than we did)," Campbell said. "Those will be lessons learned. But yet for our defense to have to go out there again and come up with a stop, there again, those are things that give you confidence moving forward. Those were some of the things that earlier in the year we got bit on and we’ve gotten better as the season has gone on. nd then to kind of come down to the wire there and our guys make a play when we needed it, it was great to see.”
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions beat Packers, lose No. 1 pick in 2022 NFL draft