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Game Review: Second Home Win A Plus, Pretty Or Not


The Green Bay Packers' 17-9 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Lambeau Field might have been an ugly win, or it might not have been, depending on whom you ask.

To the offense, there was nothing pretty about it. The Packers hurt themselves with numerous mistakes, including four turnovers and a handful of dropped passes. Eight of the team's nine penalties came on offense or special teams, and it wasn't until late in the fourth quarter that the Packers finally executed the type of sustained drive they needed to put the Lions away.

"It was dirty, it wasn't the way we pictured it at all," center Scott Wells said. "But all that matters is we came out with a win."

On the defense, there were no complaints. Against a banged-up Detroit offense down to its fourth- and fifth-string running backs and other backups on the line, the Packers allowed just 142 yards and a 2-for-12 third-down conversion rate. In the big-play department, the defense generated three turnovers and linemen Cullen Jenkins, Aaron Kampman and Corey Williams combined for six sacks, helping to keep the Lions out of the end zone all day.

"It was sweet for the defense, a sweet win," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. "Any win is good, especially when we haven't been winning at home. I don't think there's anything ugly about it."

No matter the perspective, the Packers were able to accomplish a lot on Sunday in a sluggish, physical game. They won for just the second time at Lambeau Field this year, won consecutive games for just the second time this season, and improved to 6-8 to stay one game out of the final wildcard playoff spot in the NFC.

The offense's dismal day was brightened by halfback Vernand Morency, who carried just seven times, but two of them went for touchdowns, his first two scores as a Packer.

Morency's 14-yard TD run with 5:35 left in the first half gave the Packers a 10-3 lead, but then the offense hit the skids with five straight scoreless possessions.

The two most damaging came back-to-back, beginning late in the third quarter.

Just after an interception by Charles Woodson (his career-high sixth on the season) set the Packers up with a first down at the Detroit 12-yard line, quarterback Brett Favre tried to force a third-down pass to a tightly covered David Martin. Lions linebacker Paris Lenon picked it off in the end zone, taking sure points off the board.

Then after a Detroit punt pinned the Packers at their own 1, Favre's third-down pass along the sideline was tipped up in the air by a prone Ahman Green and intercepted by Dre Bly at the Green Bay 12.

Trailing only 10-6 at that point, Detroit was dangerously close to taking the lead, but the defense was determined not to let that happen.

"Just go stop them, just go stop them," defensive end Aaron Kampman said of the attitude in the huddle. "They hadn't gotten much all game, and we weren't going to let them. That was a real gut-check for us, mentally, and we answered the bell there. I'm really proud of that drive."

Detroit gained just 7 yards in three running plays and settled for a 23-yard field goal, making it 10-9 with 9:33 left in the game. Lions quarterback Jon Kitna (16-of-26, 135 yards, 2 INT) tried to catch the Packers off-guard on third down by sneaking through the middle of the line, but he was brought down 3 yards short of the first down by Pickett and Kampman, and the Green Bay offense had been bailed out.

"That was real big," Pickett said. "That's the thing, when one of us is not clicking, the other one has to be clicking, and fortunately today the defense was hot, so when our backs were against the wall we were able to fight them off and only keep them to a field goal."

{sportsad300}Then, finally, it was the offense's turn to get moving. The Packers pounded out a 12-play, 78-yard drive that took 6 minutes, 45 seconds, off the clock and allowed the 70,472 fans to finally breathe a little easier with a touchdown for a 17-9 advantage.

Green and Morency combined for 66 rushing yards on 10 carries, and the drive featured two critical third-down conversions. Facing third-and-10 from the Detroit 44, Favre hit a sliding Donald Driver (seven catches, 70 yards) for a 12-yard gain. Then on third-and-9 from the 31, Green took a handoff to the left and weaved his way through for 10 yards and another big first down.

"It felt like finally everything came together," Wells said. "It felt like the whole game we were looking for something to happen and searching for us to click and kind of gel as far as our scheme this week, and it wasn't until that moment we were able to do so."

On the next snap, Morency took another handoff left but cut back through a huge hole and raced 21 yards for the score with 2:48 to go. The touchdown was similar to his first score, in that he perfectly timed a cut to the backside and used his speed and fresh legs to make the first tackler miss.

"They say in the meetings they get one juke, and then they have to get vertical, and it's true," right tackle Tony Moll said. "If you make one cutback and the backside is cut off, there's going to be a huge hole, and it's going to be one-on-one with some defender. You break that tackle, you're going to be going for at least a first down."

In Morency's case it was two touchdowns, and he finished with seven carries for 54 yards, making the most of his chances when stepping in to spell Green, who had 22 carries for 79 yards.

"My role is my role, and I embrace my role," said Morency, acquired after the season's first game in a trade with the Houston Texans. "Ahman is our guy, and I'm just here so whenever he gets tired, I'm going in."

The Packers' defensive line never seemed to get tired all day, thwarting any last-ditch drive by the Lions by getting sacks from Kampman and Williams on consecutive plays before Kitna's desperation fourth-and-25 heave fell harmlessly out of bounds.

Kampman pushed his team-high sack total to 12 1/2, Jenkins now has 6 1/2, and Williams has six, career highs for all three players who added to the misery of a 2-12 Detroit team that had already allowed 49 sacks coming into Sunday.

"Coach told us before the game, he was going to let us go, let us play our game," Williams said. "We did a great job of executing, and we came away with six sacks. That's a good thing, because the last couple games we've been getting the tough end of stick."

It only gets tougher now, with another game against an NFC North rival in four days. Minnesota will come to Lambeau on Thursday with an identical 6-8 record and, like the Packers, unable to afford another loss to keep the already slim playoff hopes alive.

"I let the coaches and the other people in the organization worry about the number of games as far as how many wins we need to get in the playoffs," linebacker Nick Barnett said. "Our goal is to win out.

"We have to heal up and get right back out there with the attitude and the sense of urgency we played with today."

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