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O'HARA'S BURNING QUESTIONS: What was the key stat in loss to Packers?

Lions-Packers burning questions: What another injury for Matthew Stafford means, the Packers taking charge after what proved to be a temporary win for the Lions and a key stat in the Packers' 31-24 win at Ford Field on Sunday:

Question: Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been playing with a thumb injury sustained against Washington, but he went out and did not return after sustaining what was reported to be a rib injury in the fourth quarter.

What did the injury mean to the Lions in the game, and what could it mean if he misses any games the rest of the season?

Answer: Stafford is the Lions' most valuable player, and any real chance they have to win depends on him being available to play. The evidence of that is what happened last year when Stafford missed the last eight games with a back injury.

The Lions went 0-8 without him after starting 3-4-1. The last three games are against the Titans on the road before playing the Bucs and Vikings in the last two at home.

It's already a difficult closing stretch if Stafford is healthy enough to play. Without him, it's exponentially harder.

View photos from Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers Week 14 game at Ford Field on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020 in Detroit

Question: What changed the game from a 14-14 tie at the half to the Packers taking a 28-14 lead in the second half?

Answer: The Packers are the better team and they played like it on their first two possessions of the second half to take command.

They scored touchdowns on two straight long drives -- 75 yards on 14 plays on the first one, and 79 yards on 12 plays on the second. That possession ended with 2:59 elapsed in the fourth quarter.

Between the Packers' two scores, the Lions ran three offensive plays for a net gain of four yards and then punted.

The Packers had the ball for 16:38 on their two possessions to 1:21 on the Lions' three plays and the punt.

It was a classic example of ball control. The Packers had the ball and kept it to control the game.

Question: What kept the Lions in the game?

Answer: They actually won the exchange of possessions at the end of the first half. That's something that doesn't happen to the Packers because of Aaron Rodgers' ability to put together long drives in a short period of time.

The Lions scored on D’Andre Swift's three-yard run to make it 14-14 with 1:27 left in the half. The Packers used all three of their timeouts at the end of that possession to get the ball back for a final possession at the end of the half.

It was the right strategy, but it didn't pan out. The Packers got one first down, but the possession ended on a pass that was broken up on third down, forcing a punt.

It was a small win, but an important one at the time. It kept the game tied, 14-14, going into the second half with the Packers getting the ball on the kickoff.

But the Packers took over in the second half, and the Lions could never recover.

Question: What was the key statistic?

Answer: Quarterback sacks and hits stood out, and the Packers dominated that one. They had six hits and four sacks on Stafford. The Lions had one hit and no sacks on Rodgers.

The pass rush has been a weak area for the Lions' defense all season, and it hurt them again.

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