Washington Football

Packers beat Lions 27-20, take NFC North lead

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Packers beat Lions 27-20, take NFC North lead

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) While other teams face complicated playoff scenarios and confusing tiebreakers, the task is quite simple for the Green Bay Packers.

Beat the Bears at Soldier Field next weekend and the NFC North title is theirs.

The Packers opened a one-game lead over Chicago with their 27-20 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday night. The Bears had lost at Minnesota a few hours earlier, ceding control of the division to a team that began the year 2-3.

``I kind of did some foreshadowing the last couple weeks about this is how some of these games are going to go,'' Aaron Rodgers said. ``It's going to be ugly at times, but the main thing is the wins. We're 9-4 right now, we're first in the division by a game, putting ourselves in good position, not only for the division but potentially maybe for a first-round bye.

``The division is the first goal,'' he added. ``We can wrap things up next week. It's a tough opponent, a tough place to play, a lot on the line.''

There's little on the line for the Lions except pride.

Calvin Johnson had 118 yards receiving to put him over 1,500 for the year, but it wasn't enough to keep the Lions (4-9) from dropping their fifth straight. After touchdowns on their first two drives gave them a 14-0 lead, the Lions crossed midfield six times but could only manage a pair of field goals by Jason Hanson.

Detroit tied an NFL record by losing its third straight game in which it blew a lead of 10-plus points, according to STATS Inc.

``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.''

Actually, the Lions started unraveling in the second quarter and Green Bay made the most of the switch in momentum.

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 football glisten with moisture. As Matthew Stafford drew his arm back to throw midway through the second quarter and with the Lions up 14-0, the ball slipped out of his hands.

``I don't really have much of an explanation for it,'' Stafford said. ``I wish I could have gotten on top of it. It squirted away from me again.''

And Packers rookie Mike Daniels was right there to scoop it up, rumbling 43 yards for the score that pulled Green Bay within 14-10. He 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.''

His Lambeau Leap needs some work, however. Daniels only managed to get about halfway up the wall, hanging there as fans pounded him on the back.

``I was too tired,'' Daniels said.

The Packers forced another turnover on the next drive when Sam Shields picked off Stafford. But they couldn't do anything with the ball, and went into halftime still trailing.

``It didn't start the way we wanted it to ... (but) our guys just keep playing, keep punching,'' McCarthy said. ``The impressive part of our football team is it's just not a couple of guys making a play. We had a lot of different guys make plays tonight.''

Rodgers gave the Packers their first lead of the day, scrambling away from Lions defensive end Willie Young and running 27 yards for the score. It the longest scoring run of Rodgers' career, and also was Green Bay's longest rushing touchdown of the season.

The Lions tied it at 17 on Hanson's 46-yard field goal. But the Packers got another boost from a most unlikely source: their running game.

Plagued by inconsistency and injuries all year, Green Bay's running game had accounted for just three scores coming into Sunday. But the Packers kept the ball on the ground for all seven plays in the game-winning drive, running over the Lions on one carry after another.

They used all three of their running backs - Alex Green, recent returnee Ryan Grant and DaJuan Harris - and picked up at least two yards on each play. They had double-digit gains on three carries, including Harris' 14-yard scoring run.

``That's what your linemen want, that's what the backs want. That's the way we play football here in December,'' McCarthy said. ``At that point in the game, you could feel it was starting to tilt. That was a big series for us.''

The Lions pulled within a score on Hanson's 34-yard field goal with 7 seconds left. But the onside kick went out of bounds, and the countdown to the Packers-Bears game was on.

``I'm focused on going to Chicago and winning the division,'' McCarthy said.

NOTES: The Packers scored twice on the ground for the first time since Dec. 11, 2011. ... Rodgers failed to throw a TD pass at Lambeau, ending a 35-game streak. ... Lions DT Nick Fairley sacked Rodgers for the third time this season. ... Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew did not return for the second half after injuring his ankle.

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Redspears or not these uniform designs are a great option for Washington

Redspears or not these uniform designs are a great option for Washington

When looking at the endless amounts of fan concepts and designs out there for the Washington Football Team's next name and logo, it's important to remember that not every idea belongs to the name suggestion of the designer. 

Once Washington makes its final decision, you can bet they'll be looking at a number of different options, and if they want to take a look at the fans' work, they could take a Red Wolves logo and match it up with a Red Tails uniform concept and tweak both to match whatever name they choose. 

In that case, whatever name and logo they choose should have these uniforms, plain and simple. 

 

Mike Joseph created these uniforms as part of his Washington Redspears project and did an exceptional job mocking up a number of different modern uniform designs.

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Redspears isn't a likely name change due to reports saying the franchise plans to stay away from Native American imagery, but that doesn't mean we should ignore these designs.

 

These use the burgundy and gold really well and have a unique number font that has worked for NFL teams like the Ravens, Broncos, Bears, Titans and Steelers in the past. 

The great part about this design is it could be easily rebranded to a different. All the franchise would have to do is lose the spear logo and use whatever logo they settle upon. They could even keep the numbers on the helmet as they have currently. Everything else is versatile. 

Between the sleek design, use of colors and the unique number fonts, this has to be one of, if not the best fan-generated uniform mock-up out there. If the Washington Football team uses these but with a different team name and logo, it'd be hard to complain about that decision. 

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Recent numbers indicate just how hard it could be for Antonio Gandy-Golden to help as a rookie

Recent numbers indicate just how hard it could be for Antonio Gandy-Golden to help as a rookie

There were already some decent expectations placed on Antonio Gandy-Golden for 2020 — and then Kelvin Harmon went down. Now, the Day 3 selection is being labeled as someone who needs to really contribute to the Washington Football Team.

But is that too much to ask for a rookie who went on Saturday in the draft? Recent numbers indicate that answer may be yes.

From 2015 to 2019, 25 wide receivers were chosen in the fourth round, which is where Washington nabbed Gandy-Golden a few months ago. Here are some takeaways from looking back on how all of those guys performed in their first professional seasons:

  • Only one target topped 50 catches and 600 yards, and coincidentally enough, it was Jamison Crowder. Crowder caught 59 passes for 604 yards and two scores as a rookie for the Burgundy and Gold in 2015. The only other guy who came close to either of those marks was Antonio Callaway, who had 43 grabs for 586 yards and five touchdowns for Cleveland in 2018. Those are easily the two best performances by a fourth-round rookie wideout since 2015, so keep that in mind when discussing Gandy-Golden.
  • Out of that group of 25, 15 suited up for double-digit games for their teams during their first taste of the league. The average stat line for those 15 rookies was 17 receptions for 182 yards and one touchdown in about 14 contests. That's meager. 
  • Just nine out of the 25 recorded a touchdown catch as a rookie, and only four (Crowder, Callaway, DaeSean Hamilton and Malcom Mitchell) visited the end zone multiple times.

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So, judging solely off of that data, it would appear that Washington shouldn't be prepared to lean heavily Gandy-Golden. And once you combine that history with other factors, such as the huge transition he's about to make from Libery to the NFL and the very limited offseason he's had thus far, then the outlook for Gandy-Golden becomes even dimmer.

There is a super simple counter argument, however, at least when it comes to comparing him to his past fourth-round peers, and it has to do with his potential playing time.

While the 22-year-old has to fight through a pandemic, something none of the above rookies can relate to and something that could be detrimental to his early career, he also may be in line for a massive share of snaps right away. Most players who go off the board where Gandy-Golden did are usually worried about simply making the team; he, on the other hand, very well could be a starter across from Terry McLaurin in Week 1.

That alone means Gandy-Golden could end up having enough involvement in the offense to come up with a Crowder-like, impactful debut. In 2019, McLaurin far surpassed other third-round rookie receivers due largely to the amount of opportunity he got with Washington (his ridiculous talent was a bonus of course, too). Gandy-Golden is tracking on a similar path. 

A fairly general rule for any franchise is that it's not exactly prudent to need a Day 3 pass catcher to immediately act as one of your primary weapons. Stats from 2015 to 2019 seem to back up that general rule.

Every rule has an exception here or there, though. Maybe Gandy-Golden, with his outstanding physical traits and possibly featured role in 2020, will be that next exception and make all this math and comparing a totally moot issue. 

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