Report card vs. Lions

Here is an assessment of each area of the team, along with grades, for the Green Bay Packers in the wake of their victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Ford Field. The Packers beat the Lions 31-24.

A masterful performance by the aging master himself, Brett Favre, willed the Packers to their first victory of the season. Favre played within head coach Mike McCarthy's tried-and-true version of the West Coast offense with quick, short passes and wasn't partial to one receiver in completing passes to 10 different players. Favre's efficiency rating of 127.1 on 25-of-36 accuracy for 340 yards and three touchdowns without an interception was his most proficient outing in nearly a year. It was his first mistake-free game in the last 13 contests. Plus, Favre made a little history in joining Dan Marino as the only quarterbacks in league history with 400 touchdown throws.

The recipe for success was in place because Favre had superb protection and wasn't sacked once, much less hit in the pocket. Rookie Greg Jennings continued to come of age by turning a 5-yard slant into a 75-yard touchdown, aided by a downfield block from fellow receiver Donald Driver, on the way to a three-catch, 101-yard day.

Tight end Bubba Franks atoned for two dropped passes the previous week with three catches for 39 yards. Koren Robinson, in his first action of the season at receiver, had a big 24-yard reception on third down that led to a second-half touchdown.

The day already was a bad one for Ahman Green and the run game. Then, Green fumbled as the offense was trying to run out the clock in the final minute of the fourth quarter, and the Lions were granted another crack of trying to score a touchdown and send the game to overtime, to no avail. Green has resorted to his familiar early-season ball-handling problems, having committed a costly turnover in the fourth quarter the previous week in the loss to New Orleans.

Meanwhile, with ball securely in hand, Green struggled to produce, gaining all of 63 yards in 22 carries. As well as the line kept Shaun Rogers and Co. off Favre, it's still out of kilter with the zone-blocking scheme and not creating the running lanes for the cutbacks.

The secondary was out of sorts for the third straight game. Strong safety Marquand Manuel missed a tackle on a 37-yard underneath touchdown pass from Jon Kitna to Shawn Bryson, and the Packers were gashed for seven more pass plays of at least 16 yards.

Cornerback Al Harris was a shell of his former menacing self against Roy Williams, who had seven receptions for 138 yards. Manuel, though, made amends for his early gaffe by intercepting a pass deflected by nickel back Ahmad Carroll and returning it 29 yards for a touchdown.

The coverage tightened when the Packers needed it the most in the closing minutes as they nursed a 31-24 lead. Tackle Corey Williams had his second sack on fourth down after the two-minute warning. Then, following the Green fumble in Lions territory, Kitna, who amassed 342 passing yards, had no open receivers to move the ball down the field and had to heave a Hail Mary from midfield that fell in the end zone on the final play.

The Lions' early success in the passing game seemingly worked to Green Bay's benefit in not having to contend with Kevin Jones the entire game. Jones averaged 6.4 yards on 11 carries in the first half, then offensive coordinator Mike Martz strangely went away from the run game in the second half as Jones had just six touches for 11 yards. A head-scratching, slow-developing pitch to Jones on third-and-1 was snuffed out by free safety Nick Collins for a loss, and the Corey Williams sack followed in that second-to-last series.

Aside from a 44-yard kickoff return in the third quarter that started the Lions near midfield for a touchdown-producing drive, the Packers kept explosive Eddie Drummond under wraps. He averaged 23.4 yards in five kickoff returns and a pedestrian 6.5 yards in four punt returns. Jon Ryan punted solidly in a dome setting for the first time, averaging 49.6 gross yards in five attempts with a long of 66, and his previously shaky net average was 40.4 yards. Slowly but surely, the Packers are starting to get some explosion with their return units. Robinson averaged 28 yards in three kickoff runbacks, with a long of 31 as he slipped two tackles in the fourth quarter.

The players rewarded McCarthy for his first coaching victory by presenting him the game ball afterward. The honor was well deserved because the offensive play caller was on the money with his game plan. Having Green play and contribute with a good diet of carries despite a sore hamstring that left his status for the game in question was critical. McCarthy didn't have to make the same mistake a second straight week and call 57 pass plays. He ensured Favre would be upright against a Shaun Rogers-powered front by giving him maximum protection on the line and in the backfield and starting him in shotgun formation for 22 of the 36 passes.

The downside to a positive turn of events after a 0-2 start, however, is a remedy must be found for the team's slipshod pass coverage. The fumbling woes that have cropped up the last two weeks with Green and, to a lesser degree, fellow back Noah Herron, who turned the ball over inside the Lions' 10 on a pass play late in the first half, also must be addressed and eliminated sooner than later.

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