GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — David Montgomery rushed for 121 yards and three touchdowns, and the Detroit Lions asserted themselves as the team to beat in the NFC North, dominating the first half and beating the Green Bay Packers 34-20 on Thursday night.
Montgomery carried the ball 32 times after he sat out the Lions' victory over Atlanta last Sunday with a thigh bruise. He became the first Lion to rush for three touchdowns at Green Bay and the first Detroit player to top 100 yards rushing with three TDs since James Stewart in 2000.
The Lions (3-1) beat the Packers (2-2) for a fourth straight time, a streak that also includes the final game of last season, when Detroit denied Green Bay a playoff spot in Aaron Rodgers' last game with the Packers.
Rodgers' replacement, Jordan Love, threw for a touchdown and ran for another as he tried to rally the Packers in the second half. He finished 23 of 36 for 246 yards and was picked off twice by Jerry Jacobs.
Detroit led 27-3 at halftime and had outgained Green Bay 284 yards to 21 as the half ended with boos from the crowd. It was the Lions' highest-scoring first half against the Packers in the series' 188-game history.
The Packers had staged an improbable rally five days earlier, trailing New Orleans 17-0 before scoring 18 points in the final 11 minutes for a one-point victory.
Green Bay faced a halftime deficit of at least 17 points in back-to-back weeks for the first time in franchise history. And this time, it was too much to overcome.
Love got the Packers within 10 points. His 1-yard touchdown pass to Christian Watson capped a season-long 86-yard drive to open the second half.
Jayden Reed ended the third quarter with a 44-yard catch that set up Love's 9-yard touchdown run with 14:52 left in the game to make it 27-17.
Detroit responded with a 14-play, 75-yard drive, capped by Montgomery's 1-yard touchdown run on third-and-goal, that took nearly nine minutes off the clock and put the game away.
The Lions were prepared to settle for a 30-yard field goal that would have kept it as a two-score game, but they got a first down when Green Bay’s Quay Walker received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for running forward and leaping across the line in an attempt to block the kick.
Considering the way the game started, it was surprising it was still competitive in the fourth quarter.
Rudy Ford intercepted Jared Goff on the third play from scrimmage to set up a field goal. Detroit then scored 24 points on its next four drives to delight the sizeable contingent of Lions fans who decorated the Lambeau Field stands in Honolulu blue.
Goff’s 24-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Amon-Ra St. Brown put the Lions ahead for good. Montgomery scored on runs of 3 and 2 yards, while Riley Patterson kicked field goals of 33 and 37 yards.
The second quarter was nearly halfway over and the Lions already led 24-3 when the Packers finally got their initial first down thanks to a Detroit penalty. The Packers didn’t get a first down on their own merits until 7 seconds remained before halftime.
Goff threw for 210 yards and a touchdown.
Lions: S Brian Branch injured his ankle in the third quarter, later returned to the game and then went down again. CB Chase Lucas left with an illness in the first half.
Packers: TE Luke Musgrave sustained a concussion in the first half. CB Jaire Alexander (back) and LG Elgton Jenkins (knee) were out for a second straight game, and LT David Bakhtiari (knee) missed a third straight game. Bakhtiari was placed on injured reserve earlier Thursday, meaning he must miss at least the next three games.
Lions: Host Carolina on Sunday, Oct. 8.
Packers: At Las Vegas on Monday, Oct. 9.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl