Woodson turns in legendary performance

His two interceptions more than made up for the one that he felt got away in a superlative performance after missing practice with a broken toe.

Ol' Mo was riding shotgun with the Detroit Lions. Jon Kitna was hot. Calvin Johnson was 6-foot-5 of unstoppable.

And then Charles Woodson, the wise and wily veteran, put his sore foot down.

It's not overstating Woodson's performance on Sunday to say that if this turns out to be a special season for the Packers, his gut-check of a fourth quarter will go down in Packers lore as the stuff of legend.

The Packers were playing like, well, the Lions of the last 50 years in frittering away a 21-0 lead. There's a world of difference between 2-0 – a pair of NFC North victories, to boot – and 1-1, especially with the Dallas Cowboys coming to town next week and Tampa Bay, Seattle and Indianapolis looming on the horizon.

So, Woodson – with a broken toe that sidelined him for all of last week's practices and required a painkilling injection before the game – picked off Jon Kitna not once but twice. The first set up the go-ahead field goal and the second he returned for the clinching touchdown.

"Sitting on the training table and to come out and perform like this is just tremendous," defensive end Aaron Kampman said. "He is a professional; he knows how to take care of himself, study and get ready to play. That says a lot about him."

"Charles is a great player; he's been a true pro for us, time and time again," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He has the ability to play through injury – (he) didn't even practice all week, and to go out and perform at the level that he did today, I just can't say enough about him and what his production obviously meant to our win today. I felt this individual, he turned that game around in the fourth quarter."

The interceptions were a combination of guts and smarts. The first was on a route called a fade stop, in which the receiver acts as if he's going deep, only for him to stop to catch a pass headed for his back shoulder. Woodson, however, might as well have been the intended receiver he was in such good position. On the second, Woodson undercut a route in the flat for an easy interception and touchdown. Who needs practice when you have a Harvard-level football IQ?

"I watched a lot of film on my personal time to see the way the team tries to attack me, so when I'm out there, I'm in the game," said Woodson, who gave the touchdown ball to assistant trainer Bryan Engel.

The interceptions were sweet redemption for Woodson, who felt he should have intercepted the pass that Johnson scored for his first touchdown, which jump-started Detroit's rally.

"If the play is there, you've got to make it," Woodson said. "That's why I'm kicking myself about the touchdown, because I felt like that was a play I should have made, and I didn't make it. They scored a touchdown. Anything can happen at that point. When you make a mistake, you've got to make up for it."

Make up for it, indeed. Woodson has 14 interceptions in two-plus seasons with the Packers compared to 17 interceptions in eight seasons in Oakland. These two were the stuff of legend, given the circumstances and the pain. All of that pain was forgotten, though, as Woodson strode toward the end zone with his second interception.

"Ain't no better feeling," Woodson said.

Bill Huber is editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com


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