Packers: Motor Running
Green TDs Key Win Over Lions
Monday, September 25, 2006
Green TDs Key Win Over Lions
DETROIT - High above Ford Field, Ted Thompson raised his arms and smiled.
The Detroit Lions' final desperation pass had just fallen harmlessly to the FieldTurf, the clock read 0:00 and the Green Bay Packers had their first victory of the season.
It was the quietest the second-year general manager had been all day.
Throughout the ups and downs of the Packers' 31-24 triumph over the Lions, the usually calm Thompson was particularly demonstrative at his road-game perch in the press box, and it got so bad that at one point, Thompson said he and several others in the Green Bay contingent were politely asked to pipe down.
"It's good to see the team have fun, and you have the most fun when you win," said Thompson, who has presided over just five victories in 19 games since taking over as GM in January 2005. "It was like pulling teeth, but we won a game, and it was good to see that."
Meanwhile down below, 42-year-old rookie coach Mike McCarthy was trying to contain his giddiness while savoring his first win as a head man after back-to-back home losses to open his tenure. His players gave him the game ball in the locker room, and it was accompanied by a distinct sense of relief - even if the win was at the expense of the hapless Lions (0-3).
"That's the way you're supposed to spend Sunday afternoon," McCarthy said. "It's great to get the first one, and I'm looking forward to many more."
But the first one wasn't easy, as nothing ever is with this team. While the Packers (1-2) never trailed, they never quite took control, either, as the game seesawed from the very start. Which only made the outcome more enjoyable.
"I think as you watched this game . . . you see some signs of 'Woo,' and then some 'Well, that's why they're on the fence,' " said quarterback Brett Favre, who completed 25 of 36 passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns with no sacks and a passer rating of 127.1 - and his first interception-less game since last Oct. 23.
"I don't know what's going to happen the rest of the season, but today, nothing else matters. I've played in a lot of big games and have grown to appreciate wins and how hard they are to come by."
Added veteran right tackle Mark Tauscher: "It's been a tough sled here. We make mistakes, but we haven't made excuses. We've owned up to it and continued to plug away and get better. At the end of the day, we finally got a little reward for all the work we've put in."
But they definitely had to work for it.
After rookie Greg Jennings turned a 5-yard pass into a 75-yard touchdown - the 400th of Favre's career - on Green Bay's second possession, the Lions responded with a 37-yard Jon Kitna-to-Shawn Bryson touchdown in which safety Marquand Manuel missed a key tackle.
And when Manuel atoned by snaring a pass deflected by Ahmad Carroll and returning it 29 yards for a score, the Packers gave it right back again on a 42-yard TD grab by Roy Williams, as he got behind Nick Collins and Charles Woodson.
And so it went the rest of the game.
Favre's third touchdown pass of the day - a 10-yarder to Ahman Green with 12 minutes, 19 seconds left - gave the Packers a 10-point lead, and on the ensuing three drives, the Green Bay defense, which has given up 25 explosive plays in three games, gave up only a field goal and didn't allow a first down on the other two series.
But even after the second of defensive tackle Corey Williams' two sacks of Kitna on the day - on a fourth-and-2 with 1:54 to play - seemingly iced the win, it wasn't over. Three plays later, Green coughed up his second late fumble in as many weeks, giving Detroit one last gasp. But McCarthy's expression didn't change.
"The sideline is a very emotional area," he said. "I don't think players or even coaches respond to a guy that's up and down." Although, he later admitted, "I think my heart rate went up a little bit."
No need. Although Kitna's potentially tying Hail Mary was deflected and almost ended up in the arms of a diving Az-Zahir Hakim, it didn't. Shortly thereafter, McCarthy delivered a post-game speech that was basic and brief.
"It wasn't like the Gettysburg Address or anything," Tauscher said. "Just, 'Great job, way to hang in there.' He stresses that games go 60 minutes, and we needed every second to win this one.
"He always talks about stacking successes. Well, let's continue to build off what we've been doing and let's have some more success."
How many more of those successes they'll have remains to be seen.
But for one day, one was plenty.
"We're doing the right things. We're not having a lot of luck, and in some cases we're just not functioning like we need to, but we're getting better," Thompson said. "We are getting better."
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