THE GAME: Both chastened and unfulfilled in their first road venture of the season, the Green Bay Packers (1-1) pursue better fortune in another "foreign" venue this weekend while making their competitive debut in the NFL's new NFC North Division.
Having come away from the Louisiana Superdome empty-handed in the wake of a 35-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints, the Packers visit Detroit's palatial new Ford Field, where they will have the honor of providing the opposition for the Lions' maiden regular-season appearance in their new, $500 million home.
Kickoff is set for 3:15, CDT, Wisconsin time, before a capacity house of 65,000.
While the Packers will be bidding for a second victory, the Lions will be seeking their first success of the young season, having lost their first two games - both on the road, 49-21 at Miami (September 8) and 31-7 at Carolina Sunday.
As with the Packers, Sunday's matchup will be the first NFC North assignment for the Lions.
THE TV-RADIO-COVERAGE: Joe Buck will call the play-by-play for the Fox Sports Network telecast of Sunday's game, with Troy Aikman and Cris Collinsworth providing the analysis and Pam Oliver reporting from the field. Richie Zyontz is the producer and Artie Kempner directs.
The game also will be aired over the Packer Radio Network, with Wayne Larrivee handling the play-by-play and Larry McCarren the analysis.
The broadcast also will be available on the internet via www.packers.com.
THE SERIES: The old and historic will blend with the new and opulent when the Packers and Lions deploy against each other in Detroit next Sunday.
Among the National Football League's most venerable enemies, their rivalry reflects seven decades of pro football history. They have met 143 times in a series that dates back to 1930 when Herbert Hoover was in his second year in the White House and the Packers were en route to their second of three consecutive NFL championships.
But this time around, there is a marked difference in the surroundings. The backdrop will be brand new and, reportedly, awe-inspiring, when the Packers line up against the Lions in the first regular -season game ever to be played in the Motor City's latest new showplace, Ford Field.
The Lions thus return to downtown Detroit for the first time since 1974, when they were tenants of Tiger Stadium. They had spent the 27-year interim at the Pontiac Silverdome in neighboring Pontiac, Mich., an 80,000-seat venue.
For the record, the Packers have squared off against the Lions in all five of the stadiums they previously have inhabited, beginning with Spartan Stadium in Portsmouth, Ohio, where the franchise was founded in 1930 and remained through the '33 season.
Purchased by G.A. Richards, it was moved to Detroit and the University of Detroit Stadium in 1934. In 1938, the Lions moved to Briggs Stadium, later named Tiger Stadium, in 1938. They continued in the latter venue until 1975, when they began their Silverdome run.
Over the past seven decades, the rivalry has been one of professional football's most competitive, a status underscored by the fact that the average scoring differential over their 143 previous encounters has been a mere 2.1 points per game.
The Packers hold an 11-game advantage in the series, having won 74 games while losing 62. There additionally have been 7 ties, the most recent a 1973, 13-13 standoff in Green Bay's Lambeau Field.
The Packers and Lions also have met twice in postseason play, with Green Bay prevailing in both contests, pulling out a last-minute, 28-24 victory by way of a 40-yard scoring pass from Brett Favre to Sterling Sharpe in their first such encounter, a Wild Card playoff at the Pontiac Silverdome following the 1993 season.
In another, equally memorable Wild Card confrontation - in Lambeau Field on December 31, 1994 - the Packers' relentless defense achieved the "impossible," limiting the Lions' gifted running back, Barry Sanders, to a minus 1-yard rushing (in 13 attempts) en route to setting an all-time NFL record, holding the Lions to -4 yards on the ground as a team in a 16-12 victory.
Across the nation, Sunday's principals are fondly remembered for a more distant period - the 1950s and early '60s - when they annually clashed on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit for 13 consecutive years (1951-1963) and watching the Packers and Lions have at it on the holiday became an American tradition. Until, that is, then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle granted the late Vince Lombardi's urgent request to implement an opponent rotation system because he felt it was unfair, competitively, to require the Packers to play in Detroit every Thanksgiving Day, thus annually playing two games in five days and having to play on the road in each holiday contest.
Although that custom ended as an annual attraction in 1963, the Packers and Lions have met three times on Thanksgiving Day in the interim - 1984, '86 and '01, the latter producing another holiday classic as the Packers hung on to shade the Lions at the Silverdome, 29-27.
THE HEAD COACHES: Mike Sherman, totally committed and highly consistent, has launched his third season as Green Bay's head coach - he also assumed the additional and substantial responsibilities of executive vice president and general manage in 2001 - but he already has ensconced himself among the elite leader's in the team's distinguished history.
Ever since succeeding Ray Rhodes as head coach in 2000, he has been keeping step with the won-lost exploits of the fabled Vince Lombardi. Following this past weekend's misadventure in New Orleans, he owns a robust 22-12 regular season record, leaving him only game off Lombardi's pace after 34 games in Green Bay (23-11).
In the process of so doing, Sherman has become only the fourth of the 13 head coaches in team history to forge a winning career record, thus joining an exclusive fraternity which includes team founder E.L. "Curly" Lambeau, Lombardi and Mike Holmgren.
In addition, the rapidly achieving New Englander matched another Lombardi accomplishment by leading the Packers into the playoffs in his second season as head coach. He then went the legendary Lombardi one better by winning his first postseason game.
A head coach for the first time at any level just a year earlier, Sherman debuted in 2000 by leading the Green and Gold to a 9-7 record, climaxed by a sweep of the Packers' four NFC Central Division rivals (Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota and Tampa Bay), a rare accomplishment.
Despite assuming the additional and challenging responsibilities of executive vice president and general manager in the wake of Ron Wolf's retirement, he next guided the Packers to an impressive 12-4 record in '01, a single-season victory total surpassed by only three teams in club annals.
Sherman then embellished that success by leading his team to a 25-15 victory over San Francisco in a Wild Card playoff before falling to the Super Bowl-bound St. Louis Rams in a divisional playoff (45-17).
The 47-year-old Massachusetts native, the first man to shoulder his multi-dimensional role since Lambeau last functioned in those capacities, has brought impressive credentials to his responsibilities. They include a Super Bowl following the 1997 season, during which he was a member of the Holmgren staff that led the Packers in SB XXXII against the Denver Broncos at San Diego.
It was to be the first of three consecutive years in the playoffs for the purposeful Central Connecticut State University alumnus, who returned to the postseason with the Packers in 1998 and as the offensive coordinator on Holmgren's Seattle staff in 1999.
Now in his 25th year in the coaching profession, Sherman began his coaching career at Stamford, Conn., High School in 1978. He went on to coach in the college ranks for 16 years - including a year as offensive coordinator at Holy Cross and terms as offensive line coach at such premier programs as UCLA and Texas A&M.
Marty Mornhinweg, once a Packers coaching aide, is beginning his second year as the 21st head coach of the Lions. He joined the Lions after spending four years as offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers (1997-2000) under Steve Mariucci.
While he was in San Francisco, the 49ers' offense was ranked fourth overall in 2000, accumulating the imposing total of 6,040 yards, and led the NFL in rushing two consecutive seasons (1998-99), including a club record 2,544 yards in 1998.
Mornhinweg began his pro coaching career with the Packers (1995-96). He was Green Bay's offensive assistant/quality control coach in 1995 and was the team's quarterback s coach in 1996 when the team went on to win Super Bowl XXXI.
As a collegian, he played quarterback for Montana (1981-84), where he was the school's starting quarterback for four years and established 15 school passing records. He also played quarterback for the Denver Dynamite (Arena League) in 1987.
Mornhinweg began his coaching career at Montana in 1985, moving on as an assistant to Texas El-Paso (1986-87), Northern Arizona (1988), Southeast Missouri State (1989-90), Missouri (1991-93) and Northern Arizona (1994).
THE LAST TIME(S): The Packers managed to sweep their season series with the Lions in 2001 - for the first time in five years - in a pair of contests that were decidedly a study in contrasts.
In the first, the Green and Gold's home opener (September 9), the Packers charged out to a 21-0 first quarter lead and led all the way, running back Ahman Green rushing for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns to key the offensive assault.
The rematch in the Lions' home Pontiac, Mich., Silverdome, was a distinctly different matter. The Packers led by only 17-13 at halftime and - after building a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter - had to fend off a bristling comeback by the Lions to squeeze out a 29-27 victory.
In the home opener, the Green promptly set the tone, scoring on the Packers' first possession - bursting through the middle for 31 yards to cap a four-play drive.
Quarterback Brett Favre took over on the Packers' next possession, first lofting a 35-yard pass to wide receiver Bill Schroeder, then firing a 23-yard touchdown strike to the Sheboygan native to culminate another 4-play scoring drive.
Then, on the first play of the Packers' next offensive series, Green bounced outside and bolted down the Packer sideline for an 83-yard touchdown. The run, thanks in part to Antonio Freeman's key block downfield, tied for the third-longest in Green Bay history. With 4:29 on the first-quarter clock, Green Bay had 221 yards of offense on nine plays, and a 21-0 lead.
It was, it turned out, more than enough on this productive day, which saw the Packers eventually prevail, 28-6, while the Green Bay defense held the visitors to a pair of field goals.
The Packers, clad in their 1939 replica uniforms, were enjoying a presumably safe, 29-13 lead with 7:06 left in regulation of their Thanksgiving Day rematch with the Lions. Detroit then ran 22 consecutive offensive plays. It's 18-play drive, after a Ryan Longwell field goal, ended when Lamont Warren plunged into the end zone from 1 yard out. Two fourth-down conversions (the Lions were 4-for-4 on fourth downs by day's end) and three Packer penalties kept the drive afloat.
After the Lions (0-10) converted a two-point conversion, cutting Green Bay's lead to eight, Todd Lyght recovered the ensuing onside kick at the Packers' 31. Four plays later, on fourth-and-8 with 18 seconds remaining, backup quarterback Mike McMahon hit Scotty Anderson on a 29-yard touchdown, making the score 29-27. But Detroit couldn't convert a second two-point conversion, and Darren Sharper recovered the ensuing onside kick to end the Lions' threat.
Green Bay had built its large lead off turnovers. Bhawoh Jue, making his first NFL start (in place of the injured LeRoy Butler), forced a fumble on Detroit's first play from scrimmage. Green Bay then drove 80 yards and scored on Ahman Green's 26-yard run. Then, early in the second half, Nate Wayne's interception set up the Packers near midfield, and Brett Favre found Green on a 35-yard touchdown. The Packers also posted a safety, when John Thierry tackled Warren in the end zone early in the fourth quarter.
The Packers' victory marked their first Thanksgiving Day showing on Lions turf since 1986 and their final appearance in the Silverdome.
-1934: Lions' Glenn Presnell kicks then-NFL record, 54-yard field goal to defeat Packers, 3-0 (October 8) on occasion of Detroit franchise's first visit to Green Bay.
Packers return favor in '34 rematch at Detroit (November 25) when Green Bay's Clarke Hinkle kicks a 47-yard field goal to give Packers a 3-0 victory over Lions in Green Bay's first visit to Detroit.
-1945: Packers set team single game scoring record - which still stands today - with a 57-21 victory over Lions at Milwaukee's State Fair Park (October 7).
Packers' Don Hutson also establishes an NFL one-quarter scoring record, amassing 29 points in the second period, catching 4 touchdown passes and kicking 2 extra points. He later added a pair of conversions in the second half to finish the day with 31 points, then a Packers single game record.
-1950: Lions spoil Gene Ronzani's debut as Green Bay's head coach with a 45-7 victory at old City (now East) Stadium (September 17).
-1951: Detroit wins point-fest, 52-35, in Packers' first Thanksgiving Day game against the Lions (November 22). It remains the second-highest scoring game in Green Bay's history.
-1959: Packers, under new Head Coach Vince Lombardi, seep Lions for first time since 1947 (28-10 in Green Bay and 24-17 in Detroit).
-1962: Lions end Packer hopes for a perfect season, posting a 26-14 Thanksgiving Day victory (November 22). Packers subsequently finish with a 13-1 record, still the best in their history, en route to '62 NFL championship.
-1963: Packers, Lions play to 13-13 tie (November 28) in last of 13-consecutive-year Thanksgiving Day appearances in Detroit.
-1972: Packers defeat Lions in Green Bay, 33-7 (December 3) to clinch NFC Central Division championship.
-1975: Lions shade Packers, 13-10, via former Packer Errol Mann's 23-yard field goal with 13 seconds remaining on Green Bay's first visit to new Pontiac Silverdome (November 16).
-1978: Second-year defensive end Ezra Johnson spearheads tight-fisted Green Bay defense with 5 quarterback sacks to key Packers' 13-7 victory in '78 season opener (September 3).
-1986: Walter Stanley's 83-yard, scoring punt return in final minute triggers 44-40 Packers, come-from-behind victory on most recent Thanksgiving Day appearance in Pontiac (November 27).
-1987: Rookie quarterback Don Majkowski, making his second start as a professional, passes for 323 yards to lead Packers past Lions at Silverdome, 34-33 (October 11).
-1989: Packers pull out a 23-20 win in overtime at Milwaukee on a 38-yard Chris Jacke field goal at 2:14 of sudden death period (October 29).
-1990: Trailing 21-10 at the end of three quarters, Packers forge come-from-behind, 24-21 victory, quarterback Don Majkowski hitting wide receiver Jeff Query in the end zone with a 26-yard scoring pass in the final minute for the winning margin (September 30).
-1990: Leading Lions 17-10 early in fourth quarter in Lambeau Field's coldest game day since the legendary "Ice Bowl." Packers see Detroit's Ray Crockett convert a mid-air "recovery" of an Ed West fumble into a 22-yard scoring runback, then watch Lions recover a Michael Haddix fumble at their own 35 and drive to winning touchdown, a 6-yard run by Barry Sanders, to escape with a 24-17 win. Darrell Thompson earlier had warmed hearts of 46,700 shivering faithful by returning second half kickoff 76 yards for a touchdown - the Packers' longest KOR of the season - as the wind chill descends to 35 degrees below zero during course of the game.
NOTABLE PACKERS-LIONS CONNECTIONS
NFL ties: Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg (1995) is one of nine current head coaches who spent time previously on a Green Bay staff (also Mike Holmgren, Dick Jauron, Steve Mariucci, Dick LeBeau, Jon Gruden, Andy Reid, Tom Coughlin and Mike Sherman)...Sherman Lewis spent eight years as Green Bay's offensive coordinator...Three current Packers assistants (Sylvester Croom, Frank Novak and Pat Ruel) spent time previously on the Lions' staff...Detroit's Ty Detmer is one of nine former Brett Favre backups who've gone on to start an NFL game (Page 117)...Bill Schroeder, Donte Curry, Desmond Howard and Brian Williams have also had stints in the Green Bay organization.
College teammates: Larry Foster (Lions) and Rondell Mealey (Packers) at LSU...Az-Zahir Hakim (Lions) and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (Packers) at San Diego State...Travis Kirschke (Lions) and Mike Flanagan and Tod McBride (Packers) at UCLA...Stockar McDougle (Lions) and Torrance Marshall (Packers) at Oklahoma...John Owens (Lions) and Tony Fisher (Packers) at Notre Dame...Dominic Raiola (Lions) and Steve Warren (Packers) at Nebraska...Cory Schlesinger (Lions) and Ahman Green and Tyrone Williams (Packers) at Nebraska.
Other connections: Green Bay's Gilbert Brown, a Detroit native and current resident, starred at the city's MacKenzie High School in the late 1980s...Detroit's Lamar Campbell (Wisconsin), Clint Kriewaldt (UW-Stevens Point) and Schroeder (UW-La Crosse) are products of Wisconsin colleges...Packers coaches Stan Drayton (Eastern Michigan), Novak (Northern Michigan) and Ray Sherman (Michigan State) have spent portions of their careers at Michigan schools.
THE INJURY REPORT: Offensive tackle Mark Tauscher, who suffered a knee injury in Sunday's game, is expected to be sidelined for eight weeks, GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman reported Monday.
"It's what we expected - an MCL sprain," Sherman said. "He might even have a slight meniscus tear that may possibly need to be scoped. It's an eight-week injury.
"(Defensive back) Bhawoh Jue has a right ankle sprain...we're addressing that now.
"(Running back) Ahman Green strained his quad tendon. He also had a knee flare up - kind of a turf knee - but he a quad tendon strain, which we're addressing at this present time.
"(Defensive end ) Billy Lyon has a left knee (injury), pretty much like Ahman's knee...just a turf knee that swelled up a little bit.
"(Safety) Darren Sharper has a high ankle or shin sprain and Antuan Edwards separated the A -C joint in his shoulder during the course of the game and was able to finish the game and should be OK."