Burning questions:What winning, stats and a trick play meant for the Detroit Lions as they closed out the season with a 35-11 victory over the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field on Sunday:
**Question: Did the game really meaning anything with both teams already out of the playoffs?
Answer: It meant something, and everyone is free to judge for themselves what that was.
It wasn't nearly like last year, when the Lions and Packers played a final-game showdown for the NFC North title. That was pure pandemonium most of the game. Nobody had to manufacture motivation.
The circumstances were unusual at Ford Field Sunday, and the way the game played out, it was clear that the Lions were into the game far more than the Packers were.
Winning is better than losing, and no matter who played and didn't play, the Lions felt better about the way they played than the Packers. From that standpoint, it meant something.
Q. Stats check -- Lions' record: The Lions were 9-7 for the second straight season. Is that significant?
A. It would have been a lot better if they were 10-6, because they'd have beaten the Bengals a week ago and were still in contention for a playoff berth. That didn't happen, of course. But the Lions have had a winning record in three of the last four seasons.
That means they're not in a rebuilding mode, but adding to the roster to get over the hump.
Q. Stats check – Lions sweep: What does it mean that the Lions swept the Packers for the first time since 1991, and that they finished ahead of them in the NFC North?
A. It means that the Lions were better than the Packers this year – no matter what the reasons. Nobody in Green Bay ever felt sorry for the Lions because they had an unbroken string of great quarterbacks from 1992 to the present with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.
If they can't win without a great quarterback, that's too bad. Nobody feels sorry for anybody in the NFL.
Q. Rubbing it in: Any problem with the Lions using a trick play when they went for two in the fourth quarter to make the lead 33-11?**
A. No problem. The end result of the play was that Golden Tate threw the ball back to Matthew Stafford in the end zone for the two-pointer. Stafford was wide open, then fired the ball into the stands.
One regret: Better if it was worth four points.
Q. Stats check – Ziggy's sacks: Ziggy Ansah hit the three-sack mark for the second straight game. Does it take away anything that Brett Hundley was playing quarterback for the Packers instead of Aaron Rodgers?
A. It's always better to sack the stars, but the most important thing is that Ansah finished strong and had double digit sacks for the second time in three years. There is no such statistic in the NFL as quality sacks. They all count.
Q. Hit, flag: Safety Quandre Diggs was called for unnecessary roughness when he hit Packers receiver Randall Cobb. The pass was incomplete on third and five, but the 15-yard penalty gave the Packers a first down. Right call?
A. It was a marginal call, like a lot of similar calls have been all year. But if they're going to call it that way on opening day, they should continue through the last play of the last game. Q. Bank shot: After finally getting a 10-3 lead on Kenny Golladay's touchdown catch midway through the second quarter, the Lions got the ball back on a weird play. It looked like Trevor Davis called for a fair catch on a punt, but the ball bounced to the Lions. What happened?
A.** Davis did call for a fair catch. That wasn't the problem. He was in a cluster of players when the ball came down. It hit teammate Donatello Brown and bounced away. Paul Worrilow recovered for the Lions at the Packers' 14.
Two plays later the Lions had their second TD and a 17-3 lead on a three-yard catch by Marvin Jones Jr.
Q. Delay of penalty: The officials took their time conferring before calling a penalty on Hundley for intentional grounding. Why the delay?
A. Why the delay? What's the rush? The next game isn't until the second Sunday in September. Hundley was under pressure from Ansah, and Hundley threw the ball away from the one-yard line to avoid a sack.
After a discussion with his crew, referee Pete Morelli ruled that it was intentional grounding.
The way the Lions outplayed the Packers, the Packers didn't have to do anything intentionally wrong to get blown out.