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Lions, Behind Krieg, Nearly Pull Off Comeback : NFC: Down, 31-7, to Packers at halftime and without Mitchell, Detroit rallies, but loses, 38-30.

November 07, 1994|From Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — The Green Bay Packers' top-rated defense stuffed Barry Sanders and knocked out Scott Mitchell. That almost wasn't enough against the Detroit Lions.

The Packers, behind Brett Favre's three second-quarter touchdown passes, built a 24-point lead in three quarters Sunday, yet won only 38-30 when Dave Krieg's fourth-down pass was broken up in the end zone with 42 seconds left.

Krieg, taking over after Mitchell broke a bone in his right hand in the second quarter, led the Lions on late touchdown drives of 72 and 58 yards, both of them capped by two-point conversions.

The Lions said Mitchell would be out indefinitely. He finished five of 15 for 63 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

Krieg drove the Lions to the Green Bay 15 with less than a minute left, but Sean Jones had a sack for a five-yard loss on third down. Krieg's desperation pass, intended for Aubrey Matthews, was knocked down by cornerback Doug Evans, who said: "It was just a great play by me."

Many of Evans' teammates weren't quite so upbeat after allowing the Lions to make a game of it.

"There were some sorry faces in there," Packer Coach Mike Holmgren said, "and I kind of got after them: 'We won the game! Smile! I want to see some happy faces.' "

Green Bay's Jones said Mitchell's injury was the worst thing that could have happened to the Packers.

The left-handed Mitchell, who signed a three-year, $11.1 million free-agent contract in the offseason, was hit hard by defensive end Reggie White midway through the second quarter and left the game after the next play, an incompletion in which he also was knocked to the ground.

Krieg, although fumbling away his first snap, completed 23 of 33 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns.

"I thought it was very important how the team rallied around David," Detroit Coach Wayne Fontes said. "But we can't jump up and down because we made this great comeback. A loss is a loss."

Sanders, who entered the game with 1,035 rushing yards--more than 24 NFL teams--was held to 47 yards in 15 carries.

The Packers (5-4) forced five turnovers, four of them in the first half. Robert Brooks caught his first two touchdown passes as Green Bay produced its most points since a 38-10 victory over Detroit on Dec. 6, 1992.

Green Bay scored its first 17 points off turnovers on its way to a seemingly safe, 31-7, halftime lead. Detroit's only first-half touchdown came on Mel Gray's 91-yard kickoff return. He had a 102-yarder against Chicago three weeks ago.

The Lions, who won the NFC Central last season, fell to 4-5.

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