Packers Avoid Embarrassment

Detroit marched the ball up and down the field for most of Sunday's game at Lambeau Field, but Green Bay did just enough - especially late - to avoid a major upset and claim a 28-26 victory. We have all the highlights and notes in our updated story.

On a day in which the defense couldn't get off the field and watched journeyman quarterback Shaun Hill lead the Lions up and down the field, Charles Woodson made a huge play. On a day when the offense couldn't stay on the field, it ran out the final six-and-a-half minutes.

With the Packers nursing a seven-point halftime lead, Woodson made a diving interception and 48-yard return for a touchdown. That made it 28-14, and Green Bay hung on for dear life for a 28-26 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

While Green Bay improved to 3-1, the loss was the Lions' 20th consecutive in Wisconsin and 23rd straight on the road overall.

In some ways, the game was the polar opposite of the Packers' bitter loss at Chicago last week. Detroit dominated statistically, especially with quick-hitting passes, but shot itself in the foot with 13 penalties and three turnovers.

The Lions didn't go away meekly after Woodson put the Packers in control. Jason Hanson hit three field goals to pull them within 28-23 with 13:35 remaining. At that point, the Lions had a 64-28 edge in plays. Jordy Nelson then coughed up his second kickoff return of the game, but Tramon Williams' strong play in coverage on second and third down forced Detroit into another field goal to make it 28-26 with 11:51 to go.

Badly needing a drive to at least give the defense a breather, Aaron Rodgers aired it out for Greg Jennings deep, one-on-one against 5-foot-9 Alphonso Smith. Remarkably, Smith won and came up with an interception to give the Lions the ball again. Two big plays in coverage by Woodson, however, forced a punt.

With 6:32 remaining, the Packers hadn't even controlled the ball for 16 minutes for the entire game. That would change at just the right time.

Two runs by John Kuhn gave the Packers a first down, Rodgers hit Donald Driver for 12 yards and a first down and Rodgers moved the chains with a 16-yard scramble on second-and-13. Kuhn picked up 11 more yards on two runs for a first down at the two-minute warning. Rodgers then booted to his left and hit Donald Lee for 15 yards and another first down to the Lions' 23. Finally, on third-and-7, Kuhn rumbled for 8 yards, and Rodgers took a knee to end the game.

Rodgers threw touchdown passes of 28 yards to Driver, 13 yards to Jermichael Finley and 17 yards to Jennings as Green Bay led 21-14 at halftime. The second touchdown came on a 12-yard drive that was set up by Mike Neal's strip and Cullen Jenkins' recovery.

It looked like the Packers' lead would be no worse than 21-10 at halftime. A holding penalty and a sack made it second-and-goal at the 29, but on third-and-goal from the 21, Hill threw a jump ball to the 6-foot-5 Calvin Johnson, who made the catch in the end zone despite superb coverage by Woodson (in front) and Derrick Martin (behind) with 8 seconds remaining.

Detroit dominated statistically in the opening half, with a 251-154 edge in yards, nearly a 2-to-1 edge in time of possession and 5-for-7 success on third downs.

The moment

After Nelson's second fumble, the Lions took over at the Packers' 18-yard line. On second-and-goal from the 6, Tramon Williams broke up a pass for Bryant Johnson in the end zone. On third down, Williams again was on the scene on a pass to Tony Scheffler. The Lions settled for a field goal to move within 28-26. Given another chance to take the lead after an interception, Charles Woodson broke up back-to-back passes to Calvin Johnson when one more first down would have put the Lions in position to kick the go-ahead field goal.

The player

Woodson, who spent most of the game matched up on Johnson, was at his physical best with 13 tackles, three pass breakups and the huge interception.

The number

8: Number of pick-sixes by Woodson after his third-quarter touchdown. That snapped a tie with Herb Adderley for most in Packers history. That's also Woodson's ninth defensive touchdown with the Packers and the 10th interception return for a touchdown of Woodson's career. He's the first person in NFL history with a pick-six against the same team in three consecutive games.

The quote

Coach Mike McCarthy, on the team's 3-1 record: "Don't feel like it, does it?"

The division

Chicago (3-0), the only undefeated team in the NFC, plays at the New York Giants on Sunday night. Minnesota (1-2) has its bye.

The other things you might have missed

-- Starting safety Morgan Burnett missed the final three quarters with a knee sprain. More testing will be done to determine the severity. With Charlie Peprah inactive (quad), Derrick Martin played the rest of the game. Linebacker Nick Barnett missed some time for X-rays on his wrist but played the final three quarters. More testing will be done on Monday but he didn't think the injury was serious.

-- With Sam Shields inactive (calf), Jarrett Bush was the third corner. With Brandon Chillar inactive (shoulder), A.J. Hawk played the entire game.

-- Talk about statistical dominance: The Lions outgained the Packers 431-261, won the turnover battle 4-3 and possessed the ball for an extra 15 minutes.

-- The Packers basically alternated Frank Zombo, Brad Jones and Brady Poppinga on a by-series basis at the outside linebacker spot opposite Clay Matthews. Zombo had the only quarterback hit among that trio. "We're trying to look for somebody that's going to give us something in terms of being able to come and pressure the quarterback," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "We've got to take a good look at this and just figure out what our best combination is in terms of being able to give us the kind of pressure that we need."

-- Driver's first-quarter touchdown gave him 21 touchdowns at Lambeau Field, moving him into second place on the all-time list. Antonio Freeman leads by a mile with 36.

-- Cullen Jenkins extended his sack streak to four, one in each game, while Matthews added to his league-leading total and has seven.

-- McCarthy is 9-0 all-time against Detroit, and his 21-7 home record in the team's last 28 games here is the best mark in the NFL.

-- Green Bay scored points off a takeaway for the 12th consecutive week at home, the longest stretch in the NFL.

-- The Lions are 0-4, with three of the losses coming on the road against NFC North foes and losses to Chicago, Philadelphia and Green Bay coming by a combined 11 points. "We need to find a way to make that one more play," coach Jim Schwartz said.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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