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Green Bay Packers still wary despite sweeping Detroit Lions in 2019

Green Bay Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari, right, blocks against Lions cornerback Justin Coleman during the second half on Dec. 29 in Detroit. (AP file photo)

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The past two games between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions exemplified the biggest difference between these two teams.

Green Bay has an uncanny ability to win close games. Detroit keeps finding new ways to lose them.

The Packers swept their two regular-season meetings with the Lions last year despite never leading either game until Mason Crosby made a game-winning field goal as time expired. They meet again Sunday in Green Bay’s home opener.

“It was pretty much a miracle that we were able to win both those games,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said.

The Lions are trying to bounce back after blowing a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead in a 27-23 loss to Chicago last week.

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones, left, breaks away from Lions free safety Tracy Walker during the second half on Dec. 29 in Detroit. (AP file photo)

That marked Detroit’s 10th consecutive defeat, a skid that began last November.

“It doesn’t matter if you lose it, win it, win it by 10, lose it by 10, whatever it is, lose a close one, win a close one,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “You’ve got to move on to the next one. Shoot, lucky for us, Green Bay gets our attention pretty quick.”

Green Bay went 9-1 last year in games decided by eight points or fewer before opening this season with a 43-34 victory at Minnesota. Detroit had a 2-0-1 record early last season with a pair of three-point victories, but has since gone 1-9 in games decided by eight points or fewer.

The Lions have lost 11 games they led in the fourth quarter under Matt Patricia, who became coach in 2018.

Detroit will have a tough time building a lead against a Green Bay offense operating at peak efficiency. Aaron Rodgers threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns without an interception against the Vikings. Davante Adams caught 14 passes to tie Don Hutson’s 78-year-old franchise single-game record.

But the Packers are taking nothing for granted.

“Quite frankly, they should have won last week,” LaFleur said.

Here are some things to know heading into the Lions-Packers game:

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ALEXANDER’S ENCORE

Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander will have a tough time matching what he accomplished last week. Alexander had a sack, interception and safety against the Vikings to become just the fifth player in the past 20 years to achieve all three of those things in the same game.

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FAMILIAR FOE

Stafford has thrown for 5,186 yards against Green Bay, the most of any Packers opponent. He has thrown 34 touchdown passes against the Packers to tie Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas for first place among all Green Bay foes.

The Lions are 7-11 against the Packers in the games Stafford has played.

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