FIRST DOWN: SHUTOUT
The Detroit Lions shut out the Green Bay Packers Sunday for the first time since 1973, and the first time in Green Bay since 1970.
It's Detroit's first shutout period since 1996. Granted, the Packers lost quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a concussion in the first half, but they weren't doing much on offense with him in the contest either.
There are a lot of reasons the Lions finished the season 6-10, but the way the defense finished the season Sunday, and really the second half of the season, should give Lions fans some real optimism for that side of the ball moving forward.
The Lions allowed opponents to run for less than 100 yards in five of their last eight games. Opponents scored less than 14 points in three of the last four games to end the season.
Damon Harrison, Da'Shawn Hand, A'Shawn Robinson, Jarrad Davis, Darius Slay and Quandre Diggs are all solid pieces on that side of the ball to build on. Add another good pass rusher and cornerback, continue to develop the young guys, plus the continued growth and understanding that will come with another year under the multiple scheme the Lions employ on defense, and the future of that side of the ball is looking pretty bright.
SECOND DOWN: PRATER'S BIG PLAY
Lions head coach Matt Patricia has been waiting for the right opportunity to dig deep into his bag of tricks and pull out a play from his past.
Sunday's game presented that opportunity.
"It's one of those plays that the team I was with previously ran my first year in the league in 2004 against the Rams and it's kind of one of those plays that I've always just loved," Patricia said after the game.
The play was a fake field goal that started with a direct snap to kicker Matt Prater, who then tossed the ball to tight end Levine Toilolo. Toilolo had faked like he was coming off the field on a substitution, but remained on the field without the Packers noticing. Prater passed it to Toilolo down the left sideline to record his first ever touchdown pass.
"I was more concerned with just catching the ball," Prater said in the locker room after the game. "And not throwing it straight into the line or out of bounds. I was basically trying not to screw it up."
He didn't, though quarterback Matthew Stafford critiqued the throw after the game by joking Prater had a slow delivery and threw a lollipop.
The ball got there and Toilolo made the catch. Credit Patricia and his coaching staff for identifying on film the possibility of the play working and calling it at the perfect time.
THIRD DOWN: STANDOUT PERFORMANCES
When a team wins just six games and fails to make the playoffs, it's a pretty safe bet to expect some changes to the roster in the offseason.
The 2019 offseason officially began for the Lions at about 4 p.m. Sunday, but for the three hours prior to that, there were a few players trying to make a case for inclusion in some of those plans.
Kerryon Johnson is likely to be Detroit's starting running back next season, but there could be some new faces around him. Running back Zach Zenner is a free agent, and he has made a case over the last month to be part of those plans in the backfield. He rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown, and caught a pass for 30 yards in the win Sunday. He's also a core special teamer and a player who works as hard as anyone on the team.
Undrafted rookie wide receiver Brandon Powell hasn't gotten many opportunities this season, but he made the most of the one he got Sunday with Kenny Golladay inactive. Powell showed some elusiveness and playmaking ability to lead the Lions with six receptions for 103 yards. Does it warrant a further look?
Defensive end Romeo Okwara got a pressure vs. the Packers, and would have recorded a sack if not for linebacker Jarrad Davis getting there first. The restricted free agent to be finished the year with 7.5 sacks, which led the team.
Tight end Levine Toilolo caught a touchdown pass and has made a case to be in the mix at tight end.
While there may not have been anything to play for from a team perspective Sunday, there was a lot on the line for a number of individual players.
FOURTH DOWN: GOLLADAY'S SECOND SEASON
Wide receiver Kenny Golladay didn't play Sunday in Green Bay due to a chest injury that limited him in practice this week.
Golladay finished the year with 70 receptions for 1,063 yards with five touchdowns in 15 games. It was a terrific second season for the former third-round pick out of Northern Illinois, who entered the year as Detroit's No. 3 receiver, and finished as their No. 1 after Golden Tate was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in October and Marvin Jones Jr. was placed on IR in November.
Only Germaine Crowell (1,338), Calvin Johnson (1,331) and Richard Johnson (1,091) finished their second NFL season over the 1,000-yard receiving mark in the Super Bowl era. It hasn't taken long for Golladay to make a big impact.
He entered Week 17 tied for second in the NFL with a first-down percentage of 80 percent. Of his 70 catches, 56 went for a first down.
He's proven he can be a big weapon in the passing game, and should enter 2019 as a big part of Detroit's off
View in-game photos from the Detroit Lions Week 17 game against the Green Bay Packers.