Game Review: Packers Back On Track, Ready For Playoffs

In their 34-13 victory over Detroit on Sunday, the Packers quickly got back on track and gathered momentum for the playoffs, and they also matched a franchise record with their 13th regular-season win. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Lions Game Center


It didn't take the Packers long to wipe the bad taste of last week's loss out of their mouths.

Barely more than a quarter, actually.

In their 34-13 victory over Detroit at Lambeau Field on Sunday, the Packers quickly accomplished their goals of getting back on track and gathering some momentum for the upcoming playoffs. They also matched a franchise record with their 13th regular-season win.

Touchdown drives of 62, 97 and 41 yards the first three times they touched the ball gave the Packers a commanding 21-3 lead less than a minute into the second quarter. That began the liberal substituting that allowed several starters to get extra rest heading into this week's playoff bye, and in the process turned last week's 35-7 blowout in Chicago into ancient history.

"You have to have a short memory and be able to come out the next week and play as hard as you can," running back Ryan Grant said. "That's what we were able to do. We wanted to start fast, we wanted to keep our tempo high, and we came out and did that."

Without receivers Donald Driver and Greg Jennings and tight end Donald Lee, all of whom were given the game off, the Packers didn't miss a beat on offense and looked nothing like the team that could do little if anything right in Soldier Field's pre-Christmas blustery winds.

In his three series, quarterback Brett Favre was an efficient 9-for-11 for 99 yards and two touchdowns (143.8 rating), plus a 21-yard scramble on his second snap that ranks as his longest rush since 1998.

After Grant's 27-yard touchdown run answered an early Detroit field goal, and his 18-yard burst on a third-down draw play got the Packers out of a deep hole on their next drive, Favre went to work.

He proceeded to hit throws of 24 yards to Bubba Franks and 21 to Koren Robinson before a 5-yard TD toss to Robinson made a 97-yard march look easy.

Atari Bigby's team-leading fifth interception on Detroit's first snap set up the offense for its third scoring drive, a six-play, 41-yarder capped with a 4-yard TD pass to Bubba Franks.

That gave the Packers a 21-3 lead with 14:12 left in the first half and signaled the end of Favre's day, objectives achieved.

"I felt like when I came out of the game and a lot of our guys came out of the game, we accomplished, if you want to say, what we wanted to accomplish," Favre said. "We moved the ball well, we were productive, we got some energy going, regained some confidence if we lost any last week, and from that standpoint, it was very productive."

The defense took a similar approach and responded with like execution, starting with the rest offered cornerback Charles Woodson (toe), defensive tackle Ryan Pickett (groin) and defensive end Aaron Kampman, who were inactive.

An effective stand after a long opening kickoff return by Aveion Cason limited Detroit to a field goal. The unit followed with a three-and-out, Bigby's interception, and an interception by Tramon Williams after more substitutions ensued.

All in all, before the 70,869 fans who attended on a 20-degree day were even that cold, the Packers had done what they set out to do.

"One thing this team has done well is we take our success and move on, and we take our failures and move on," center Scott Wells said. "We didn't have any success in Chicago, and we learned from it and moved on. We got ready for this game, and it was evident in the way we came out and played."

The offense added on in the second half as Brandon Jackson's 46-yard run, the longest of the rookie's brief career, set up a field goal, and backup quarterback Craig Nall hit Ruvell Martin for a 32-yard TD on fourth-and-short. Jackson finished with 20 carries for 113 yards, while Nall was 7-of-15 for 88 yards in relief.

Meanwhile the defense allowed just 47 yards rushing and held Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna (22-of-48, 246 yards) under 50 percent passing.

The punt team shook off its rough game from a week ago as well, with Jon Ryan having no troubles and booming a 72-yard punt that was downed at the 1-yard line. The ensuing defensive stop and short drive from good field position tacked on another field goal.

{sportsad300}"There's great competitive spirit, competitive will in this locker room," linebacker Brady Poppinga said. "When you lose, you get punched in the face or whatever, you're going to retaliate and you're going to come out and you're going to use that setback per se as a springboard. That's what we are here. We're true competitors."

Now the Packers enter the all-important bye week, which should allow the team to get as healthy as possible before their divisional playoff game on Jan. 12. That game will be at home against either the Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers or New York Giants, depending on the outcome of the wild-card round next weekend.

"We didn't want to go into the bye week and then into the playoff game 0-2 and having us have to think what's wrong and then having to fix it," Robinson said. "Now we're coming off a big win going into the bye, like OK, we can just continue to do what we're doing and everything will be good as long as we play our ball."

That ball can still get better according to Favre, and has to. But Sunday was a good start to finding that peak performance.

"We have to play our best football in order to go where we want to go in the playoffs," Favre said. "At times we played pretty good football, but once the playoffs start, 'at times' does not count. We have to be sound in all phases."

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