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Lions fall short against Packers again 27-20

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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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The Vault: Looking back at Bullets-Sixers Game 5 of the 1986 NBA Playoffs

The Vault: Looking back at Bullets-Sixers Game 5 of the 1986 NBA Playoffs

After a two-week break for paternity leave, it's time to spin the dial, line up the combination numbers and re-open the vault. Earlier in the NBA's hiatus, we looked back at Bullets playoff games from the 1970s and the 1990s. Today, we go to the 1980s and revisit Game 5 of the 1986 first-round playoff series between the Washington Bullets and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Now, this is a game that older Bullets fans likely wouldn't want to relive. The Bullets not only lost the game, they got blown out, and it ended their season.

But it was also an interesting snapshot into an era of the NBA and of Bullets basketball and, in a way, it encapsulated what the Bullets were in the 1980s. They made the playoffs five straight years from 1983 to 1988 and lost in the first round each time. 

In 1986, the Bullets won only 39 games, yet they were the sixth seed. It was an especially bad year in the Eastern Conference, so bad that the Chicago Bulls set an NBA record that still stands as the worst team to ever make the playoffs. They were 30-52.

The Bullets won Game 1 against the Sixers, but fell on the road in Game 5 when basically all of their best players didn't show up. It was a major letdown.

But it was still a basketball time capsule worth looking back on. Here are five takeaways including pictures and GIFs of the best moments...

Bol's network debut

The NBA back then was not even close to what it is now in terms of worldwide reach. It was not far removed from the NBA Finals playing on tape delay and very few games were broadcast nationally. Usually, those national games featured teams like the Lakers and Celtics, not the Washington Bullets.

So this particular game marked the first time Manute Bol played on network television. The Bullets rookie was a person of intrigue because at 7-foot-6, he was the tallest player in NBA history at the time. Remember, this was before Gheorghe Muresan, Shawn Bradley and Yao Ming. 

Bol was also a fascinating player because as a rookie he led the league in blocked shots with a ridiculous average of 5.0 per game. He averaged more blocks than he did points (3.7). 

Bol playing in his network debut was a big part of the broadcast with color commentator Tommy Heinsohn remarking pregame that "when [Bol] first joined the NBA, a lot of people thought it was for freak value." Heinsohn, though, went on to twice compare Bol's rim-protecting prowess to Bill Russell.

Heinsohn also said later in the game the Bullets training staff put the roster through a strength exam and Bol tested at the level of "a child." He was tall, but extremely skinny, listed at just 200 pounds. And his thin frame was a major disadvantage against Sixers superstar Charles Barkley.

Despite being a foot shorter, Barkley absolutely dominated Bol in this game with his strength and low center of gravity.

Bol had zero points, two rebounds and one block in the game.

Bol had a song

To further illustrate the spectacle that Bol's network debut was, CBS aired a music video for him at halftime. It was called 'Bol-tending' and it was the type of video that was for some reason commonplace around sports in the 1980s and 90s.

Custom rap songs about teams and players were all the rage back then and even as a rookie, Bol had one complete with a killer saxophone solo.

The 80s were in full force

The Bol video was just one example of the remarkable 80s-ness of this game and the broadcast. There were so many things that may have been cool at the time that just aren't that cool anymore.

Like, this starting lineup graphic. It looks like a Prince album cover.

There were also a few hairstyles you just never see in today's NBA. There was the let-it-flow male pattern baldness of Gus Williams:

There was also Jeff Ruland's full and glorious mustache, which made him look like a cop who went undercover as an NBA player:

And you had Tom McMillen's moppy gray hair that made him look like a middle school science teacher:

It seems worth noting that Just For Men didn't come out until 1987, the year after this game was played. And this was actually McMillen's final NBA game. He had already announced his retirement and made it known he was going to run for U.S. Congress as soon as his playing career was over. They mentioned it twice on the broadcast.

Imagine a current NBA player's farewell tour including that as his next step. McMillen, who was a Rhodes Scholar before playing in the NBA, would win that election and two more to serve three terms in the House of Representatives hailing from Maryland's 4th District.

Sixers were loaded with stars

The Sixers had one of the most star-studded NBA teams ever assembled in 1985-86, though some of those stars were up there in age and not the players they once were. They had a whopping five Hall of Famers. That included Barkley, Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Bob McAdoo and Maurice Cheeks. 

Malone and McAdoo didn't play in this game due to injuries, Malone because of a fractured eye socket (ouch). But the other three had their way with the Bullets in Game 5.

Barkely, in particular, was unstoppable. He had a triple-double with 19 points, 15 rebounds and 12 assists. And he just jumped off the screen as the best player on the floor.

This was a different era where a lot of the players weren't athletic or skilled enough to hang in today's game. But it is pretty obvious Barkley would still be a star. He was just unbelievably powerful and fast in the open floor.

Dr. J still had it

Erving may have been 35 years old, but he was still one of the best athletes on the court. He made a series of plays that were reminiscent of the ageless wonder we see these days in LeBron James.

Erving had a few vicious dunks that did not look like a guy at the end of his career:

And this one play where he leapt over the press section really stood out:

The NBA has come a long way since the 80s, but Barkley and Dr. J were both before their time. And the Bullets may now be the Wizards, but they are still waiting to break through in the playoffs, even decades later.

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For those thinking the Redskins could go with Kyle Allen over Dwayne Haskins, consider this

For those thinking the Redskins could go with Kyle Allen over Dwayne Haskins, consider this

Kyle Allen's acquisition has led some to wonder if Dwayne Haskins is now in a true fight for the Redskins' starting quarterback job. DeAngelo Hall came out with comments saying as much last week, and his opinion is shared by a few other analysts and some fans, too.

That outcome is certainly on the table, sure, and it moves closer to the center of the table the longer Coronavirus keeps teams away from the facility. If the offseason gets cut short or erased entirely, Allen's familiarity with Scott Turner's offense goes from a very useful trait to something that could be enough for him to take the field in Week 1. 

But as long as there is some semblance of normalcy over the coming months, Haskins should be Washington's starter. You can believe that because Ron Rivera indicated that's how he himself is operating, or you can believe that because, like Chris Cooley, you think Haskins is simply the better QB.

If those two reasons aren't enough, though, consider this: Going with Haskins appears to line up with how Rivera has approached his first free agency and first campaign as the franchise's leader.

Like it or not, Rivera has mostly brought in low-cost players this March. Aside from pursuing and losing out on Amari Cooper, he and the front office seem content with just trying to make this roster more well-rounded and more competitive while the coach looks to establish his way of doing things in 2020.

Of course, Rivera, Kyle Smith and others would love to begin this new era of Redskins football by stringing together nine or 10 victories and making it into January. That said, they're all aware that they're assuming control of a 3-13 team and are at the start of a rebuild that may require a few seasons to really take effect.

In other words, this is the perfect time to let a 2019 first-rounder have a full year under center and in shotgun and allow both he and the organization to figure out if he can be a difference maker in the NFL.

If Haskins struggles, the Redskins should let him try to fight through those struggles. And if he continues to struggle, then they can finally turn to Allen. That scenario will in all likelihood lead to another unsightly record and put Washington in a spot to draft a premium signal caller in 2021. 

However — and this is weirdly a result that doesn't get mentioned enough — it could really pay off and set the Redskins up for major success under Rivera.

One of the top shorcuts to relevancy is having a quality passer on a cheap deal (and Haskins' deal has the potential to be really cheap through 2022). If the Redskins give Haskins 2020, he could give them much more in return.

Sure, if Allen entered this September as the guy, his chemistry with Turner and Rivera could make the Burgundy and Gold's record marginally better in the short term. That said, the Redskins' strategy in free agency doesn't indicate that they're too preoccupied with the short term. 

Overall, Allen is no scrub. In fact, he has produced more than Haskins has as a pro up to this point. Yet for Rivera and Co., what happens next matters far more than what's happened already.

If they're being patient with addressing their roster, they need to be patient with Haskins. They may one day be very thankful that they were.

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