Lions fall short against Packers again 27-20


Lions fall short against Packers again 27-20

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) New week, same ole story for the hapless Detroit Lions.

After scoring on their first two drives, the Lions could manage only a pair of field goals as they fell to the Green Bay Packers 27-20 on Sunday night.

Calvin Johnson had 118 yards receiving to put him over 1,500 for the season, but it wasn't enough to keep the Lions (4-9) from dropping their fifth straight. It's the third straight loss in which the Lions have blown a lead of 10-plus points, tying an NFL record.

``We've been in every single game this year. But being in games doesn't mean (anything) in this league,'' said Matthew Stafford, whose fumble in the second-quarter helped spark Green Bay's comeback. ``It's about getting wins and we understand that as a locker room and as a team.

``It's tough when the ball isn't going your way,'' he added. ``But we're not helping it go our way. We're doing it to ourselves as well.''

The loss also extended Detroit's futility in Wisconsin. The Lions (9-4) have not beaten Green Bay at home since 1991, back when the Packers (9-4) were still playing some of their games in Milwaukee.

The Packers moved within a victory of the NFC North title. Beat the Bears next week in Chicago, and the division title is theirs for a second straight year.

``We're first in the division by a game and we put ourselves in good position, not only for the division but potentially for a first-round bye. The division is our first goal,'' Aaron Rodgers said. ``We can wrap things up next week. It's a tough opponent, a tough place to play. There's a lot on the line.''

There is little but pride left for the Lions, who have taken a step backward after making the playoffs for the first time in a decade last season.

``We're probably the best three-quarter football team in the league,'' Stephen Tulloch said. ``And then in the fourth quarter we don't find a way to win games. Unfortunately, that's the way football is, sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don't. This season, that hasn't gone our way. We haven't had a break and we just haven't finished.''

The latest Lions slide began with Stafford's fumble midway through the second quarter. The season's first significant storm dumped almost 3.5 inches of snow on Green Bay, making Lambeau Field look like a snow globe for most of the night and the balls glisten with moisture.

As Stafford drew his arm back to throw midway through the second quarter, the ball slipped out of his hands.

``That was a big play. We had all the momentum,'' Stafford said. ``I don't really have much of an explanation for it. I wish I could have gotten on top of it. It squirted away from me again.''

And Mike Daniels was right there to scoop it up, rumbling nearly half the length of the field for the score that pulled Green Bay within 14-10. Daniels is Green Bay's first rookie defensive lineman to return a fumble for a TD since 1941.

``Mike Daniels' play was the momentum shift for us that we needed,'' Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. ``That was a big play.''

So was Rodgers' 27-yard scoring run.

Still trailing in the third, Rodgers was trying to find someone - anyone - to throw to on third-and-4. With Lions defensive end Willie Young closing in, Rodgers scrambled away and found a hole on the right side. He ran untouched down the sideline, holding the ball out as he crossed the goal line.

It was the longest scoring run of Rodgers' career, and the Packers' longest this season.

``For him to score from that distance speaks volumes about his athletic ability,'' McCarthy said. ``He's our guy, he's our ace, it's built around him and he played well again tonight.''

But it was the go-ahead drive that was most frustrating for the Lions.

The Packers have struggled to run the ball all season because of injuries and inconsistency. Yet they ran it on seven straight plays, and picked up at least 2 yards on each play. They had double-digit yardage on three of the carries, including DaJuan Harris' 14-yard scoring run.

Not bad for a guy who was elevated from the practice squad eight days ago.

``It's very frustrating, especially when they're not a run team. They're a predominantly pass team,'' Tulloch said. ``We're a much better team than that drive showed.''

Added Lions coach Jim Schwartz: ``It was poor defense. We had a chance to go out and get a stop, and they just ran the ball down our throats.''

The Lions pulled within a score on Jason Hanson's 34-yard field goal with 7 seconds left. But the onside kick went out of bounds, and the Packers ran out the clock.

``We're fighting tooth and nail to get wins,'' Stafford said. ``There's no lack of effort there. Guys are giving everything they've got. We're playing as a team and doing everything we can. The ball isn't going our way right now.''

Notes: The Packers scored twice on the ground for the first time since Dec. 11, 2011. The two TDs almost doubled their total for the season, giving them five touchdowns on the ground. ... Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew did not return for the second half after injuring his ankle. ... Green Bay is 13-1 against Detroit under McCarthy.


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Paul Richardson's Redskins contract is team friendly early

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Paul Richardson's Redskins contract is team friendly early

The Redskins’ contract with wide receiver Paul Richardson is very team friendly in the first year but it increases over the years to the point where he needs to be a very productive receiver in order to justify staying on the roster.

The big picture of the deal is $40 million over five years. A total of $12.5 million is fully guaranteed at signing, which is comprised of a $10 million signing bonus, his $1.5 million 2018 salary, and $1 million of his $5 million 2019 salary.

More money will become guaranteed if Richardson is on the roster as of five days after the start of the league years in 2019 and 2020. The remaining $4 million of his 2019 salary and $3.5 million of his $6 million 2020 salary become guaranteed on those dates.


Richardson will get salaries of $7.5 million in 2021 and 2022. Each year of the contract he can earn $500,000 in per-game roster bonuses ($31,250 for each game he is on the 46-man game day roster).

It all adds up to the following salary cap numbers:

2018: $4 million
2019: $7.5 million
2020: $8.5 million
2021: $10 million
2022: $10 million

The average annual value of the contract is $8 million, which is tied for 24th among NFL receivers.

The first window the Redskins have to terminate Richardson’s contract without taking a negative cap hit would be in 2020 as long as they do it prior to the fifth day of the league year when the partial salary guarantee kicks in. They would take a $6 million deal cap hit but they would save a net of $2.5 million.

The last two years, when the cap numbers are at their highest, the Redskins could easily move on, saving $6 million in cap space in 2021 and $8 million in 2022.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


John Carlson gets the better of John Klingberg in duel of top defensemen


John Carlson gets the better of John Klingberg in duel of top defensemen

One week ago, the hockey world was captivated by the matchup of Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine, two players battling for the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer. Tuesday's matchup between the Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars once again pitted two competitors locked in a point battle together in John Carlson and John Klingberg.

Carlson and Klingberg entered Tuesday's games with 59 points each, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. In a 4-3 win for Washington, both defensemen delivered phenomenal performances as each recorded two points, two assists for Klingberg and a goal and an assist for Carlson.

Tuesday's game was the latest example this season of Carlson rising to the occasion. He has been at his best when he has been needed the most such as when he was averaging 27:46 of ice time a night while Matt Niskanen was out injured.


Carlson's ability to deliver has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.

"John's having just a whale of a year, obviously," Niskanen said. "Monster year. Production, been carrying the load all year. He's been just a stalwart back there for us. He leads the way."

"The numbers don't lie, he's been having an unreal season," T.J. Oshie said. "Definitely on the points side of things, but maybe some parts that don't get talked about, the defensive side of things. He rarely loses a battle. It's very encouraging, it gets the bench going when he plays like that."

After the game, Carlson tried to downplay the notion that he elevated his game in response to playing against Klingberg.

"No," Carlson said when asked if he was motivated by the points race. "I think the guys do a good job of pumping that up in the locker room. I just want to go out there and win. I think we played a good game tonight so that's most important."

But while his words were subdued, his play was anything but.

Despite both players getting two points, Carlson got the better of his counterpart by scoring the game-winning goal in the third period, a one-timer slap shot to beat goalie Kari Lehtnonen, to lead Washington to the win.


Carlson may say he was not motivated by Klingberg, but his play certainly seemed to suggest otherwise.

"I think they both know, they know the stats," Barry Trotz said. "They know who they're lined up [against]. They're proud athletes. You're in a business where there's a lot of alpha males. That's what it is."

Of course, Carlson may not need a matchup with Klingberg to motivate him.

In the final year of his contract, Carlson has picked a good time to set new career highs in goals, assist and points. With a cap hit of just under $4 million, the 28-year-old blueliner will be due a significant raise in the offseason. That price tag continues to climb with every good performance as Carlson continues to cement himself among the league's top defensemen.

"Obviously he's very motivated," Trotz said. "He's in the last year of his contract. He'll be motivated. He's putting out points. He's gotten better and better. He's more poised every year. When he's intense and detailed in his game, he's a top defenseman in the league and he shows it."