Commentary: Packers may not be dead yet

The patient has a pulse. Deprived of oxygen for the last three weeks, however, chances of recovery remain on the low end of slim and none.

The family — Packers players and fans — is thrilled, of course. Death is never a happy subject, especially when you're talking about the green and gold that pours through the veins of so many people from sea to shining sea and all points in between.

Whatever Packers coach Mike Sherman said before the game should be put on tape and sold. If Sherman doesn't have a job around these parts in 2005, at least he'll have some residual income.

Sherman gave his team quite a pep talk Saturday night at the team hotel. He talked about the days when the Packers were good — not all that long ago, in reality, but seemingly decades ago after the recent three-game losing streak. He joked. He showed some fire.

"I told them (Saturday) that our back was against the wall, so far they had splinters up their (butts)," Sherman said.

It's not quite "Win one for the Gipper," but I guess the thought of sharp shards of wood poking where the sun don't shine is reason enough to run a little faster.

If the Packers can play up to this lofty standard for the rest of the season, maybe the playoffs aren't out of the question, after all. Sure, it was only the Lions, but you've got to start somewhere. And an utterly dominating 38-10 victory is as good a place to start as any.

Green Bay's performance was scintillating. The offense churned out 434 yards. The comatose running game bullied its way for 157 hard-charging yards. Brett Favre couldn't have been more accurate had he been playing catch in the back yard.

The story was the defense, however. A scan of the NFL's rushing leaders heading into this weekend's games revealed that the league's first-, second-, and third-ranked rushers all had the benefit of running circles around the clueless and heartless Packers defense.

On Sunday, however, the Packers had a clue and heart. The Lions ran the ball 16 times for 33 yards. The leading rusher was the quarterback, which is good news if you've got Michael Vick but bad news if you're molasses-in-January slow Joey Harrington. Detroit's three halfbacks, Artose Pinner, Kevin Jones and Shawn Bryson — granted, not exactly the equal of Messrs. Green, Davenport and Fisher — carried the ball 11 times for 18 yards.

Where all of this leaves the Packers is a great mystery. The Packers looked like Super Bowl contenders against Carolina and Detroit but unlovable losers in the four games in between. Playing up to expectations twice in six games isn't going to get this team anywhere. But Sunday's performance provides at least a glimmer of hope.

"We made a statement to the rest of the league — not just in our division," said receiver Donald Driver, who tormented Detroit for nine catches, 110 yards and two touchdowns.

We shall see.

Bill Parcells and the struggling Dallas Cowboys visit Lambeau Field on Sunday. A victory, and the Packers may be on the road to recovery. A loss and the green-and-gold patient can be declared dead.

Huber writes for Contact him via e-mail at

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