Woodson Makes Impact Once Again

Time and time again last season, cornerback Charles Woodson came up with key plays when the team needed them the most. On Sunday afternoon against Detroit, he not only got into the end zone in the second half, but he also led a defense that didn’t allow the Lions to score a touchdown after the break in the 28-26 victory.

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Woodson posted an interception return for a score in the third quarter and came up with crucial plays on each of the Lions' final three snaps of the game to preserve the narrow Green Bay victory.

"That was one of the tougher games I have been in," Woodson said. "I give a lot of credit to Detroit. They came in with a great game plan, and they played physical and played tough. They put themselves in position to win, but when it comes down to it, when somebody has to make a play and your number is called on and their main guy's number is called on, somebody has got to win. I was able to come up with a couple of plays there late in the game to help us get off the field."

On the opening drive of the second half with the Packers holding a 21-14 lead, Woodson made a diving interception of a Shaun Hill pass intended for wide receiver Calvin Johnson at the Lions 48. He was able to quickly get up and take the ball down the right sideline, benefiting from a few blocks along the way, before diving once more to extend the ball past the goal line for the touchdown.

The score was Woodson's eighth interception return for a touchdown in his four-plus seasons in Green Bay, breaking a tie with Herb Adderley (seven, 1961-69) to move into sole possession of the No. 1 spot in the franchise record books. It was his ninth defensive score as a Packer, which extended his team record, and the 10th interception return for a touchdown in his career (two with Oakland).

"It's just amazing he can do it week in, week out," safety Nick Collins said. "Everybody says he's getting old. I don't see it. I don't see it at all. The man is aging and getting better at the same time. He brings something new to his game every year, every year. I'm glad to be a part of it."

The 10th interception return for a touchdown moved him into the No. 3 spot in NFL history in that category, as he now trails only Rod Woodson (12) and Darren Sharper (11). The score also made him the first player in the history of the league to post an interception for a touchdown in three straight seasons against the same team, having returned picks to the end zone each of the two seasons against the Lions at Ford Field.

"No, I didn't know (about the record for three straight against Detroit)," Woodson said. "I know where I'm at as far as how many touchdowns I have, so it was big for me today to get to 10 career interceptions. I didn't think about returning three against the same team, but again, when it is your time to make a play, you've got to make a play.

"Calvin came off and pushed me to the outside. I don't know if the quarterback thought he was going to curl up right there or not, but I was able to see it and just make a play on it. I got some blocking down the field from some guys, and I was able to sniff that end zone out. That always feels good."

The pick-six came after a first half that saw Johnson do some damage against the Green Bay defense, as he posted two touchdowns and 72 receiving yards on five receptions before the break. The first came early in the second quarter when he got behind cornerback Jarrett Bush to get open and make a 23-yard grab over the middle for the score.

The second one was more of a back-breaker, as Hill lofted a pass to the corner of the end zone on third-and-goal from the Green Bay 21 with just eight seconds left in the half to narrow the Packers' lead at the break to just seven points. Woodson and safety Derrick Martin, filling in for an injured Morgan Burnett, were both there, but the 6-foot-5 Johnson leaped over both to come down with the ball.

"I thought I got up pretty high, but I guess my hops aren't what they used to be," Woodson said. "He's 6-foot-5, 6-foot-6 or whatever, and once he stretches his arms out he is even taller. He was able to get both hands on the ball and come down with it, so big play for him."

Matched up with Johnson most of the afternoon, Woodson kept the fourth-year receiver in check the rest of the way, limiting him to just one reception, a 14-yarder, in the second half. That came in a half that saw the Lions' offense on the field for over 18 minutes, which could partially be attributed to two Green Bay turnovers in the fourth quarter that both came just a play after the defense got off the field.

After Lions kicker Jason Hanson connected on a 49-yarder to narrow Green Bay's lead to 28-23, Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, his second fumble on a return on the afternoon, to give Detroit possession at the Green Bay 18. The defense was able to hold the Lions to another field goal that made it 28-26.

Then on Green Bay's next offensive play, Lions cornerback Alphonso Smith wrestled the ball away wide receiver Greg Jennings on a deep throw from Aaron Rodgers at the Detroit 29, and the Packers' defense got the call once more.

After Hill quickly moved the Lions down to the Packers 38, Woodson came up with three consecutive plays to halt the drive. On first down, he tripped up rookie running back Jahvid Best on a run to the right side for just a 1-yard gain, and then on second down made a diving deflection of a pass to Johnson that he nearly intercepted. Woodson came up with another pass breakup on third down, jumping up to knock the ball away from a leaping Johnson and force a Lions punt, only their second of the afternoon.

It was a critical third-down stop for a Green Bay defense that had struggled to get off the field all day. After allowing Detroit to convert on eight of their first 11 first downs, the Green Bay defense tightened up down the stretch to allow just two conversions in the Lions' final six attempts.

"(Turnovers) happen, and if you want to be a good team, you want to be a team that is known to go out in adverse situations and come up big, then that is what you've got to do," Woodson said. "It doesn't matter if he throws a pick, Jordy fumbles, it doesn't matter. Defensively we've still got to go out and do our job.

"It was big because they had been doing a great job of getting inside our red zone all day. Their field goal kicker was outstanding, so to keep them out of field-goal range and make them punt was big. For our offense to get the ball and to take it from our end of the field to their end of the field to secure that win was huge for us."

The tackle of Best gave Woodson a team-high 13 stops for the afternoon, which would match his career high set vs. Kansas City on Dec. 5, 2004, when he played for the Raiders. His official tackle total won't be known until Monday when the defensive coaches grade the film, and even though the overall performance by the defense will show some areas that need to be shored up in the weeks ahead, Woodson said it is always easier to work on those issues after a victory.

"I believe in winning and losing, and you either do one or the other," Woodson said. "We won today. Again, it was a tough game. It doesn't matter if it was a good-looking game, an ugly game, it doesn't matter."

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