For the second time this season, a Packers defensive lineman posted the first interception of his career.
On Sunday, it was defensive end Cullen Jenkins, who picked off quarterback Daunte Culpepper's screen pass intended for running back Kevin Smith at the Detroit 21 on the Lions' opening series. Jenkins returned the pick four yards, helping to set up a John Kuhn touchdown catch that pushed the Packers' lead to 14-0. It was one of three Green Bay interceptions on the afternoon.
"I came off and then kind of halfway through the rush, I felt the running back and everybody trying to sneak in behind me," said Jenkins. "Then I just started backing up and the ball was kind of hanging up there.
"All I kept telling myself was, 'Don't drop it.' It felt great. At least now if you look at my career stats, you'll always see a '1' in the interception column. They can't take it away from me now."
Not only was it the first interception for Jenkins as a pro, the sixth-year end said after the game that was his first at any level of football.
"I had one in high school once, but it got called back because of a penalty," Jenkins said of his lone interception as a 200-pound junior safety at Belleville (Mich.) High. "And I played DB in high school too, so I was pretty bad."
Fellow defensive end Johnny Jolly posted the first interception of his career in the season opener vs. Chicago when he made a spectacular one-handed pick of a Jay Cutler screen pass intended for Matt Forte.
With Jenkins' pick on Sunday, it marks the first time the Packers have had two defensive lineman post interceptions in a season since 2002. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and Vonnie Holliday each registered interceptions that year.
After playing without left tackle Chad Clifton the past 2½ games due to an ankle injury, they did see him return Sunday, only to see him leave once again late in the third quarter when he re-injured the ankle.
Clifton sustained the injury on an Aaron Rodgers sack/fumble, and did not return after limping off the field.
"I didn't see the specifics of it," McCarthy said. "It's disappointing. We're just, we're not very healthy up front right now, and we've got to keep working and working our way through the adjustments you've got to make. Injuries are part of the game."
Rookie T.J. Lang, who played left tackle at Minnesota for most of the fourth quarter when Daryn Colledge left with a knee injury, played the entire fourth quarter in place of Clifton on Sunday.
"I think he played well," running back Ryan Grant said. "He played with confidence, and that's the biggest thing. It's tough to get thrown in there like that, especially at the end of the game when you're not warmed up and everything.
"That's the expectation. We expect all of the guys to have great work weeks during the week and be ready and be able to go."
It isn't the only injury that the offensive line is currently battling. Center Jason Spitz, who injured his back in Thursday's practice, was inactive for the first time since Week 3 of 2006, his rookie campaign. Scott Wells, who was limited this week in practice as well after sustaining a hamstring injury on Thursday, got the start in Spitz's place.
Too many flags
The Packers were penalized a season-high 13 times on Sunday for 130 yards, including six in the first quarter for 55 yards.
Green Bay entered Sunday's game with 30 penalties, an average of 7.5 per game.
"Well, I'll tell you, it's frustrating," McCarthy said. "There's no denying that. I'm not going to sit here and tell you I feel really good about it. The ones that grab a hold of me are the pre-snap penalties. There's no excuse for it. It doesn't matter who, when, where, what time, and that's the thing that's unacceptable.
"These combative penalties and some of them that were thrown, we'll go through the process that we go through every week. We had 13, they had six. So it definitely factors into the game. You don't, particularly on offense, play with any rhythm. You're going back and forth, the game stops and so forth. You're down and distance changes. We have to get it cleaned up. It's definitely an issue in the first five games."
Closing it out
Running back Ryan Grant rushed for 90 yards on 24 carries, but it took him a while to get going.
Grant posted just 28 yards on 13 carries (2.2 avg.) in the first three quarters, including a long of 7, before rushing for 62 yards on 11 attempts (5.6 avg.) in the final stanza.
"You take that momentum, the way we were able to move the ball, even with them kind of knowing that in four-minute offense we're going to run the ball," Grant said. "We just want to do more. We take the positive from that, but we know we want to start faster, I want to start faster. We expect more.
"We know Aaron, as great as he is, we want to take pressure off of him so he feels like whatever we do, it's going to work. He doesn't necessarily have to throw the ball."
With No. 1 return man Will Blackmon lost for the season with a knee injury suffered in Week 4 at Minnesota, wide receiver Jordy Nelson assumed the top spot on both punt and kick returns this week in practice.
But the Packers were forced to move down the depth chart even more after Nelson sustained a bruised knee on a punt return midway through the first quarter. Nelson muffed Nick Harris' 48-yard kick at the Green Bay 22, picked up the ball, but took a big hit to his legs from safety Marvin White. McCarthy said after the game that X-rays were negative, but the team decided to hold him.
Cornerback Tramon Williams, who hasn't returned a punt since 2007, assumed the return duties, and came through in a big way in the second quarter. Fielding Harris' 37-yard kick at the Green Bay 26, Williams avoided a few tacklers before bouncing it out to the right sideline, returning it all the way to Detroit's 29 for a 45-yard gain before being pushed out of bounds by Harris. The return helped set up a 28-yard Mason Crosby field goal.
Cornerback Charles Woodson, who was the Packers' primary punt returner in 2006, handled the duties the remainder of the game, returning one punt for no yards.
"I just felt Charles, with his experience handling the football...I think Tramon has done an excellent job with that," McCarthy said. "The wind was changing. Shawn Slocum and I discussed it on the sideline. So just with his (Woodson's) experience back there. I thought the wind picked up in the second and third quarter."
Williams' return wasn't the only big play from Green Bay's special teams. With Detroit facing a fourth-and-3 from their own 45 late in the first half, the Lions sent their punting unit on the field, only to have Harris move under center to take the snap. He tossed the ball right to running back Aaron Brown, but linebacker Spencer Havner broke through to bring him down for a 1-yard loss. Green Bay used the field position to convert another Crosby field goal before the half.
Besides Nelson and Clifton, the only other injury reported was nose tackle B.J. Raji, who "tweaked" the ankle that sidelined him earlier this season in the second half. McCarthy said it was a coach's decision to hold him out.
Green Bay's inactives on Sunday were Spitz, fullback Korey Hall, running back DeShawn Wynn, safety Matt Giordano, tackle Mark Tauscher, tackle Breno Giacomini, defensive end Jarius Wynn and linebacker Jeremy Thompson.