GREEN BAY, Wis. — Matthew Stafford couldn’t bear to watch with his team on the verge of another heartbreaking moment.
Instead, the Detroit Lions held on for a signature win in the unlikeliest of places.
Stafford threw for two touchdowns, and Detroit stopped a 24-game road losing streak against the Green Bay Packers with an 18-16 victory Sunday despite a late blunder by Calvin Johnson.
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"I bet nobody gave us a chance, but that’s the way we like it," Stafford said.
Mason Crosby missed a 52-yard field goal as time expired after the Packers recovered an onside kick that was mishandled by Johnson with about 31 seconds left.
Detroit (2-7) had stopped Green Bay on a 2-point conversion attempt after Aaron Rodgers hit Justin Perillo for an 11-yard touchdown pass on the previous drive. Backup cornerback Crezdon Butler, signed from the practice squad on Friday, stuck a hand in front of Davante Adams to break up the conversion try.
A nervous Stafford said he couldn’t watch that play. He threw for 242 yards for the league-worst Lions, an organization that had been reeling following the midseason firings of the team president and general manager.
"We don’t really care who gives us a chance, because we feel good about ourselves in that locker room and we know what we’re about," Stafford said.
The Packers (6-3) lost their third straight game, but this was a new low after their two previous defeats came on the road to Super Bowl contenders Denver and Carolina.
"We dropped one today that we felt we had a very good opportunity to win," coach Mike McCarthy said.
A sluggish game filled with three-and-outs turned into a thriller in the fourth quarter.
The Lions barely held on for their first road win against Green Bay since 1991. Matt Prater missed two extra points, but also hit field goals from 49 and 51 yards.
"To be able to come in here and get a win is pretty special," coach Jim Caldwell said.
Rodgers was 35 of 61 for 333 yards, but wasn’t at his best. Receivers including Randall Cobb and Adams had a few drops.
Green Bay finally got into the end zone when Rodgers found tight end Richard Rodgers for a 4-yard touchdown pass with 5:55 left.
Lance Moore’s 4-yard touchdown reception increased Detroit’s lead to 18-10, and the Lions held off the Packers following Perillo’s score.
It has been a precipitous decline for a quick-strike offense that was once the envy of the NFL. The Packers’ running game stalled, with James Starks gaining just 42 yards on 15 carries against the league’s 26th-ranked defense.
"This isn’t easy," McCarthy said. "And frankly, if we spoiled you in the past, that’s great. We’re looking forward to spoiling you again in the future."
Even Crosby’s 44-yard field goal in the first quarter needed a little luck after glancing off the left upright but over the crossbar.
Otherwise, a Detroit defense without linebacker DeAndre Levy and cornerback Rashean Mathis for the year frustrated Aaron Rodgers and the Packers for much of the afternoon.
"We played physical," Butler said. "We wanted to control (Rodgers) so we brought pressure and we were in their faces."
The win could ease the pressure, at least for the time being, on Caldwell. Besides the turnover at the top of the organization, the Lions also fired their offensive coordinator and two line coaches a few weeks ago.
The Lions didn’t accomplish much against the Packers’ rejuvenated defense until the fourth quarter.
But the Packers were just as bad until the final few minutes. Protection was spotty. Rodgers made some uncharacteristically shaky throws.
"We had some opportunities, I missed some throws and we missed some opportunities to convert and put some more points on the board," Rodgers said. "We needed 19 points to win today. You would expect us at home to score 19."
NOTES: Detroit hadn’t defeated Green Bay on the road since a 21-17 victory on Dec. 15, 1991. … Johnson, who was listed as questionable coming into the game with an ankle injury, finished with six catches for 81 yards. … Ameer Abdullah’s 104-yard kickoff return to open the second half set up Stafford’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Pettigrew with 13:33 left in the third quarter. … Packers LT David Bakhtiari left in the fourth quarter with a knee injury. … The Packers’ pass rush generated better pressure on Stafford, but still went a third straight game without recording a sack.