Stingy Defense Keys Victory


Everyone in the Packers' locker room knew that Sunday's game at Detroit was going to be vital to getting their season back on track.

No group in that locker room knew that better than Bob Slowik's defensive unit, and they came out and turned in an impressive showing against the Lions at Ford Field.

Right off the bat, it was obvious that this was not going to be the same defense that had given up 48 points to Tennessee just six days previous.

The Packer 'D' set the tone early as they held the Lions to a three-and-out on the first possession of the game.

The Lions looked to come out and establish the run against Green Bay's defense, which came into the contest ranked 31st overall and 30th against the run.

Clearly, the defense the Lions had seen on film during the week was not the one that they saw on the field Sunday afternoon, as the Pack stopped running back Artose Pinner on back-to-back runs to open the game for zero and two yards, respectively.

Middle linebacker Nick Barnett finished off the series with a sack of Joey Harrington, dropping him for a loss of nine yards and giving the ball to Brett Favre and the offense to jump out to a 7-0 lead.

After allowing a tying touchdown on the Lions' next possession, the Packers defense tightened up and would not allow the home team to reach the end zone the rest of the day.

The second half was the kind of defensive performance Packer fans have been looking for all season.

After going into the locker room at halftime with a 17-10 lead, the defense came out after the intermission and pitched a shutout. But not only did they not allow the Lions to score, they put up points of their own.

Safety Darren Sharper, who is looked to as a playmaker in this defensive scheme, did just that early in the third quarter.

Harrington dropped back to pass on third down and looked for Tai Streets up the right side of the field. The young quarterback's pass would not get to its target, though, as Sharper jumped in front of the receiver and proceeded to weave his way through a sea of white jerseys on his way to the end zone.

Sharper showed some of the skills that in the past made him a dangerous punt returner, avoiding tackles and finally hurdled over Harrington and dove over the goal line for a 36-yard touchdown, putting the Packers up 24-10 and well on their way to a 38-10 victory.

With Sharper's interception return, the Packers defense gained more yards than they would allow the Lions in the second half. The home side managed just 18 yards after the break and picked up a grand total of zero first downs.

The Packer defense, which had been giving up 383.8 yards per game and a whopping 149.8 on the ground, totally shut down the Detroit offense.

For the afternoon, the Lions managed just 125 yards of offense, and just 33 rushing yards with a meager average of 2.1 yards per rushing attempt.

Sunday's effort was just what the Packers needed, especially on the defensive side of the football. If they are able to duplicate their performance in the upcoming weeks, there is no reason to doubt the rest of the season should be very exciting in Green Bay.

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