David Montgomery never beat the Green Bay Packers during his four seasons with the Chicago Bears.
Now with a different NFC North team, Montgomery made the most of his new situation and helped the Detroit Lions take early command of the division with a 34-20 victory at Lambeau Field on Thursday night.
“It just felt real different coming in with the group of guys that I’m with,” said Montgomery, who rushed for 121 yards and three touchdowns. “I’m blessed to come out here with these guys and get the ‘dub.’ That’s big for me. I can tell my son that I beat the Packers, so I’m excited to say that and excited to be a part of this team.”
Montgomery carried the ball 32 times after sitting out the Lions’ victory over the Atlanta Falcons on 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.“He was balling,” Lions receiver Amon-Ra St Brown said. “We can count on him whenever. Give him the ball, he’s going to make something happen.”
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.
Detroit has built on the momentum from that season-ending victory by getting off to a fast start this year that now includes road victories over the Packers and the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
“Send us anywhere, line us up against anyone and we feel like we can go in there and beat them,” said Lions quarterback Jared Goff, who went 19 of 28 for 210 yards with a touchdown and an interception. “That’s a good feeling to have.”
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 had two passes intercepted 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 earlier in the week, trailing New Orleans 17-0 on Sunday 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. This time, it was too much to overcome.
“I think just offensively as a whole we’ve just got to start faster,” Love said. “We don’t start fast and we kind of get behind and it’s hard running the ball. We get put in situations where you’ve got to throw the ball. So I think we’ve just got to start faster.”
Love got the Packers within 10 points. His one-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 nine-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 one-yard touchdown run on fourth-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.
“I was just in the moment, but I’ve got to be aware,” Walker said. “That’s on me.”
Considering the way the game started, it was surprising it was still competitive in the fourth quarter.
Rudy Ford intercepted Goff on the third play from scrimmage to set up a field goal. Detroit then scored 24 points on their 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 St Brown put the Lions ahead for good. Montgomery scored on runs of three and two 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 seven seconds remained before halftime.