Costly setback for Packers

Committing four turnovers in the fourth quarter, which Jason Hanson converted into field goals, the Packers fell to the Lions today, 22-14. Todd recaps the game and gets the reaction from inside the locker room...

Feasting like kings in recent games behind a league-leading rushing attack, the Green Bay Packers' offense played like turkeys today against the Detroit Lions. As a result, the Packers were gobbled up by an aggressive Lions defense and their playoff picture nearly devoured.

Green Bay committed four of its five turnovers in the fourth quarter and fell to the toothless Lions, 22-14, at Ford Field. Detroit's Jason Hanson made field goals from 49, 46 and 32 yards as Detroit capitalized on Green Bay's first three turnovers of the final quarter. Veteran cornerback Doug Evans, a former Packer, then sealed the game by intercepting a long pass from quarterback Brett Favre with about one minute remaining.

The Packers (6-6) had one last gasp in the end, but Favre's Hail Mary pass to the end zone was batted to the turf, allowing the Lions (4-8) to top their victory total from last year by one game. Steve Mariucci, in his first season as Detroit's head coach, beat the Packers for the first time in six games as a head coach in the last seven seasons.

With four games remaining in the regular season, the Packers fell to one-and-a-half games behind NFC North Division-leading Minnesota (7-5). The Vikings play at St. Louis against the Rams this Sunday.

"You can't get up one week and not be up the next week," said Favre. "In order to be in this league a long time individually, you have to play a certain way, at a high level every week. Does that mean that you play there? Not necessarily, but you don't need to come in at halftime and say, ‘Hey, we're messing around here and we're going to cost ourselves the game.' Hey, we all know what's at stake."

The Packers entered the game having won three of four physical games, but on just four days of rest were flat from the get-go.

"I think we just lost this game in the beginning," said Packers coach and general manager Mike Sherman. "We had played four, tough emotionally packed ballgames previous to this one and I don't feel like we had what we needed to have in order to win this game on Thanksgiving in their place. You've got to be ready every week. Certainly turnovers contributed to that, but everybody lost this ball game.".

The Lions shut down Green Bay's rushing attack, which entered averaging 173.5 yards per game, by holding the Packers to 52 net yards. Ahman Green was limited to 57 yards on 13 carries, breaking his string of four consecutive games of 100 or more yards rushing.

"We flat out got beat up front today," said Packers offensive tackle Mark Tauscher. "They made an effort to stop (the run)."<p> Favre and the Packers' passing game picked up the slack with 268 yards in the air, but three interceptions and two lost fumbles gave the Lions ideal field position, especially in the fourth quarter.

Favre passed for 296 yards, completing 23 of 37 attempts and two touchdowns. However, Lions cornerback Dre Bly, who was in the team's injury report this week with a hamstring injury, intercepted two of Favre's passes and forced a fumble.

"We just believed in our coverage and stayed tight with them," said Bly.

While Detroit's defense shut down the Packers' running game, the Lions got just enough from quarterback Joey Harrington and their offense to win the 64th Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit and 17th against the Packers. Harrington passed for 183 yards and the Lions rushed for 100 yards. Detroit also converted a number of third downs to first downs early in the game while the Packers struggled. Green Bay made its only third-down conversion (10 attempts) late in the fourth quarter. The Packers were unsuccessful in that key category because of Detroit's ability to pressure Favre, who was sacked four times and hurried on a handful of other occasions..

Green Bay took its first lead of the game with 3 minutes, 48 seconds left in the third quarter on Favre's 45-yard bomb to wide receiver Javon Walker. Favre's 20-yard tracer over the middle to wide receiver Donald Driver to the Lions' 45 on the previous play set up the score. Walker beat veteran cornerback Otis Smith and safety Corey Harris to make the catch near the goal line, the second straight game he scored a touchdown on a deep pass. In Green Bay's 20-10 win over San Francisco four days earlier, Walker caught a 66-yard touchdown pass from Favre.

But the Lions capitalized on two Packers turnovers early in the fourth quarter as Hanson made field goal attempts from 49 and 46 yards. The Lions began each drive in Packers' territory (31 and 39). Green Bay's defense stopped the Lions on both drives, but ran out of gas when Bly got his second interception of game and returned it to the Lions' 46.

Detroit then marched 42 yards and got a 32-yard field goal from Hanson to go up, 22-14.

"No one in the National Football League can line up week in and week out and not bring their ‘A game' with them and expect to win," said Sherman. "The Detroit Lions did a great job today. I take my hat off to them and what they accomplished. They deserved to win this football game."

Detroit went 56 yards on 10 plays on their opening drive of the game and took a 7-0 lead on Shawn Bryson's six-yard touchdown run. Harrington passed for 32 yards in the drive and Bryson rushed for 19 of the Lions' 24 yards.

"It just goes to show that we didn't come out with the mental mindset from play one," said linebacker Na'il Diggs. "We knew they were going to give us their best shot. We just mentally weren't into it, and it shows."<p> After Green Bay punted the ball away for the second time, the Lions caught a break on cornerback Mike McKenzie's unnecessary roughness penalty on tight end Casey Fitzsimmons on third down, and the Lions got a first down at their own 29. Two plays later, Harrington hooked up with tight end Mikhael Ricks for a 39-yard completion to the Packers' 30. Green Bay finally stopped the Lions on third down, forcing Detroit to settle for Hanson's 42-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead.

Green Bay's offense was sluggish, punting the ball away on its first two series. But the Packers put together a welcomed 84-yard drive, their 18th scoring drive of the season of 70-plus yards, and closed to 10-7 on Favre's 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Bubba Franks. Favre used a handful of touch passes in the drive, including a 29-yard pass to tight end Wesley Walls and his 11-yard pass to running back Najeh Davenport on third-and-4 for a first down at the 9. He saved the best for last, lobbing a pass to the corner of the end zone that allowed the 6-foot-6 Franks to out-leap cornerback Dre Bly and land with both feet inbounds for his third touchdown of the season.

Hanson's 28-yard field goal increased the Lions lead, 13-7 with 2:37 left in the second quarter. The Lions drove to the Packers 1-yard line, but Antuan Edwards sacked Harrington on third down to force the field goal attempt. Earlier on the drive Torrance Marshall earned his first career sack. But the Lions, who converted 5 of 8 third downs in the first half, converted three in the 62-yard drive.

Harrington completed 12 of 14 passes in the first half for 124 yards. He entered the game with 19 interceptions, the most in the league.

The Lions' offense ran off 35 plays to the Packers' 24 in the first half and led in time of possession by more than five minutes – 17:39 to 12:21.

Favre completed 9 of 14 passes for 97 yards in the first half, including five completions to Green Bay's tight ends, who caught a total of seven passes in the previous four games.

The Packers played without two starters on defense. Darren Sharper bruised his chest Sunday against San Francisco and linebacker Nick Barnett suffered a sprained ankle. Both did not suit up for the game.

"They were missing some guys as well. We were missing some guys, but in this league and this day and age you better be ready to play. Everybody here is on scholarship and they all have to play. If they're on the team, we have to count on them to make the plays. Is it difficult when we take Sharper and Barnett out of the game, yeah, but we have guys who have to step in to make those plays and make that adjustment."

Extra points: Favre started his 187th straight regular season game, tying Forrest Gregg's team record. Favre also has thrown a touchdown in 21 straight games, one shy of a team record. ... Marques Anderson started in place of Sharper at safety and Torrance Marshall started for Barnett at middle linebacker. Edwards left the game with leg cramps in the third quarter and did not return. He was replaced by Curtis Fuller.

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