Veteran cornerback Charles Woodson, who didn't practice all week with a broken toe and was beat on one of Detroit's come-from-behind touchdowns, intercepted passes on back-to-back Lions possessions. The first set up a touchdown that made it 34-25 and the second he returned for a clinching score to bring the margin to 41-25.
The Packers improved to 2-0 and took sole possession of first place in the NFC North by surviving a rash of mistakes that breathed life into the moribund Lions (0-2).
"We stayed at it and believed in each other and were able to come out on top in the end," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.
Behind a scintillating 16-for-20, 210-yard, three-touchdown display by Rodgers, the Packers led 21-3 at halftime. Rodgers said the Packers got "complacent" in the second half, but Green Bay still led 24-9 going into the final quarter.
The crumbling continued when Greg Jennings dropped a first-down pass, leading to a three-and-out possession. Punter Derrick Frost inexplicably let the snap go through his hands. The ball went through the back of the end zone, resulting in a safety to cut the lead to 24-18.
After an exchange of punts set up the Lions at the Packers' 47-yard line, Kitna threw a quick pass to Williams, who ran through poor tackle attempts by Tramon Williams and Aaron Rouse for a touchdown. Shockingly, Detroit led 25-24 with 7:41 remaining.
"This is pro football. It's a four-quarter game," coach Mike McCarthy said.
Five-and-a-half equally shocking minutes later, the Packers were back in control with 24 unanswered points.
"I said, ‘Now, we're going to find what we're made of.' And we did," Rodgers said of the team's mind-set after falling behind.
Rodgers, staring at a deficit and with Ford Field rocking, needed a big drive. He needed a big play when a false start made it second-and-13 from the 17, and he got it from Jennings. Jennings, lined up in the left slot, ran a slant, got the ball in stride and ran 60 yards to set up Mason Crosby's go-ahead field goal.
"One play really changed the momentum of the game, and Greg Jennings made that play," Rodgers said.
Then, it was Woodson's turn to deliver a big play. Or two. First, he undercut a pass to Johnson for an interception. Brandon Jackson, who dropped a third-down pass on the previous possession, ran 13 yards on the first play and scored one play later on a 19-yard run behind superior blocks by Mark Tauscher and Tory Humphrey.
Moments later, Woodson read a poor throw from Kitna for another interception, which he returned 41 yards for the clinching touchdown. For good measure, Nick Collins' returned an interception 42 yards to account for the final score, meaning the Packers outscored the Lions 24-0 in a span of five-and-a-half minutes.
Suddenly, Ford Field went from rowdy to empty — except for the scads of Cheeseheads who stuck around to cheer their team. The Packers, with the Bears and Vikings blowing leads against Carolina and Indianapolis, respectively, are the undisputed division leaders.
It was a huge win, clearly, for Green Bay. The Packers are 2-0 in the division, and have given themselves at least a little margin for error with the meat of the schedule coming up. Next week, they host Dallas, followed by at Tampa Bay, home for Atlanta, at Seattle and home for Indianapolis.
"It's very important to start stacking successes," McCarthy said, "and I'm just pleased with the way our team finished the game."
Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at email@example.com