Packers Become Their Own Worst Enemy

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The Detroit Lions defeated the Green Bay Packers 17-3, but you could say the Packers beat themselves.

During the 2005 regular season opener, the Packers suffered 14 penalties, including four by cornerback Ahmad Carroll, for 100 yards. Brett Favre committed three turnovers, and punter B.J. Sander botched the hold on a field goal.

"All around, we did not play well tonight," said wide receiver Donald Driver, who led the team with 48 receiving yards. "When you have that many penalties, you are going to lose a game."

The Packers, however, answered several questions about the team, which arose during training camp.

Their special teams had allowed long punt and kick returns to the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots during the preseason, but they corralled 2004 Pro Bowl return specialist Eddie Drummond.

Totalling 41 combined return yards, he averaged two yards on six punt returns, and his longest kickoff return was 15 yards.

Packers head coach Mike Sherman expressed concern all week about stopping Lions running back Kevin Jones, who ran for 156 yards in the team's last meeting, but the defense held him to 87 yards on 25 carries.

The Packers running game, particularly, running back Ahman Green struggled during the preseason. The team averaged 3.3 yards and Green averaged 2.3 yards. Against the Lions, Green looked powerful averaging 4.8 yards on 12 carries. Only the Packers' inability to convert third downs (5-of-16) limited him.

Green had room to run because the offensive line held up for the most part. Throughout the preseason, the Packers rotated their guards with sometimes disastrous results, but rookie William Whitticker and veteran Adrian Klemm replaced the departed Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera admirably.

The offensive line, however, weakend at the end, allowing sacks to defensive end Kalimba Edwards and defensive tackle Shaun Rogers. Those sacks with less than two minutes left helped thwart Green Bay's chances at a comeback.

Behind that line, Favre looked sharp in the first half, completing 13-of-20 passes for 104 yards. But with 13:31 left in the third quarter, the football slipped out of his hands, leading to a fumble. That fumble set up a 21-yard Jason Hanson field goal.

Lions safety Kenoy Kennedy also intercepted a Favre pass intended for wide receiver Robert Ferguson, which led to seven-play, 58-yard drive, capped by a Mike Williams touchdown.

Favre's second interception came on a desperation end zone heave from Detroit's 32-yard-line with thirty seconds left. He finished 27-of-44 for 201 yards.

"If you're in my shoes, you have to be disappointed," Favre said. "I'd like to think that we could score more than three points."

Favre and the offense could have scored more, but they missed out on an opportunity after the second quarter's first drive stalled at the Lions' 4-yard-line. Sander mishandled the snap on what would have been a Ryan Longwell chip shot. Sander tried to run with the ball, but Lions cornerback Fernando Bryant tackled him for an 11-yard-loss.

The much-maligned Packers defense played well. They held the Lions to 254 yards, and defensive end Kabeer-Gbaja Biamila provided constant pressure. Cullen Jenkins started at defensive tackle and had a sack. Newly-acquired Robert Thomas started at weakside linebacker and racked up four tackles.

In addition to corralling Jones, the Packers contained the vaunted receiving corps of Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams. The Lions selected each of the receivers with a first-round pick, but the Lions managed 167 receiving yards on the day.

Tight end Marcus Pollard, signed as a free agent during the offseason, did the most damage, catching five passes for 58 yards and a touchdown.

"I don't care what system you are in, it is nice to have him. Marcus was terrific tonight," Lions quarterback Joey Harrington said. "Very intense; played extremely well and had some good catches for us. He had a big third-down conversion going down to start the second half; he blocked well."

Harrington finished 15-of-28 for 167 yards and two touchdowns.

The loss could prove costly for the Packers. Wide receiver Javon Walker, who caught four passes for 27 yards, left in the third quarter with a knee injury.

"It was an ACL (injury) from what I understand," Sherman said. "He was unable to come back. You really can't make a determination on that until you get an MRI which will be tomorrow. He certainly wasn't able to come back into this ball game and I doubt (he'll be back) anytime in the near future."

The win puts the Lions in sole possession of the NFC North division, but the teams will meet again on Dec. 11.

"I give them credit, they won the game. I'm not going to say that they have the best defense." Driver said. "I think we put ourselves in a bad situation that cost us the game."

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