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AP Story: Packers Flatten Lions 31-6


It took a mere 52 seconds for the Green Bay Packers to rediscover their running game and their home-field advantage.

Ahman Green rushed 23 times for 160 yards, including a 65-yarder for a score on his first carry as the Packers rolled past the Detroit Lions 31-6, snapping a two-game home losing streak.

Green topped 100 yards by halftime, and the Packers (1-1) picked off three of Joey Harrington's passes in the second half to send the Lions (1-1) to their 17th straight road loss.

Green scored when he found a hole in the eight-man front created by guard Mike Wahle, broke a tackle by safety Corey Harris and raced 65 yards for the touchdown on a field drenched by nearly three inches of rain in 48 hours.

"This is our type of weather," Brett Favre said. "When we're running the ball like that, we're tough to beat. Anybody would be."

The play accounted for more yards than Green had in either of his previous two games. He had 53 yards against Minnesota a week earlier and 34 yards against Atlanta in the playoffs -- both of them losses at Lambeau Field.

Against the Vikings, the Packers passed on their first six snaps and trailed by double digits when Green got his first carry.

"We were bound and determined to get Ahman his carries," Packers GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said.

Not only were the Packers still smarting from their season opener, but their receivers were banged up. Sherman revealed that even free agent pickup Antonio Freeman, who led Green Bay with four catches for 32 yards, was limited by foot tendinitis during closed practices during the week.

Center Mike Flanagan was ecstatic to hear the rain beating down his window all night.

"Fat guys up front love that slow, sloppy field," he said. "Love the rain. This is a lineman's dream. I saw it was raining and everybody woke up with smiles on their faces. It makes it hard to throw and we know what we have to do."

Namely, dole out the punishment instead of taking it.

Green's run was his longest since he went 83 yards for a touchdown against the Lions on Sept. 9, 2001.

"It is one of our bread-and-butter plays," Green said. "If it's blocked right and I have the right speed, the only person I've got to deal with is outrunning the safety."

Said Lions end Robert Porcher: "We played it right. Everybody was where they were supposed to be. We just missed the tackle."

Harris accepted the blame.

"That was a basic football play," he said. "You can't let that happen."

Green became the fourth running back in Packers history to top 4,000 career yards. He had 109 yards by halftime as the Packers built a 17-6 lead.

In the third quarter, linebacker Nick Barnett, the Packers' top draft pick, intercepted a pass that bounced off tight end Mikhael Ricks' back and Charles Rogers' fingertips.

Three plays later, Favre hit Robert Ferguson with a 14-yard touchdown pass that made it 24-6.

Ferguson aggravated a sprained right knee early in the fourth quarter and went to the sideline.

Al Harris capped the scoring with a 56-yard interception return for a score.

Packers weakside linebacker Na'il Diggs had a monster game before limping to the sideline with a sprained left knee early in the fourth quarter.

"I just had a lot of last week still in my chest," said Diggs, who had seven tackles and broke up four passes.

In the second quarter, Freeman got a huge ovation from the crowd of 70,244 when he made a 13-yard catch on third-and-9. Favre ran over to hug him.

"It was deja vu," said Favre, whose favorite target was Freeman from 1995-2001. "I looked out there and he was right in the perfect spot. And as usual he catches it off his chest. But he catches it.

"That's Free. What he lacks in talent, he makes up for in savvy."

The Packers signed Freeman this week after Donald Driver strained his neck and Ferguson sprained his right ankle and knee.

"I felt like a little kid who ran away and has come home," Freeman said.

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