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Maybe Packers Should Have Seen It Coming

THE NFL WEEK 5 | DETROIT 26, GREEN BAY 15

September 29, 1997|From Associated Press

PONTIAC, Mich. — They win when they should lose and lose when they're expected to win. It's hard to get a handle on the Detroit Lions.

The Lions, 7 1/2-point underdogs, got another interception return for a touchdown from linebacker Reggie Brown and the play proved decisive in a 26-15 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. The result left both teams with 3-2 records. The Packers lost only three times last season on the way to the Super Bowl title.

"I felt all week that the thing that was helping us get ready for this game was that it was the Green Bay Packers," Detroit Coach Bobby Ross said. "We stepped up today, but we need to sustain that."

The defense forced four turnovers and sacked Brett Favre twice.

"We can't make a lot of excuses," Green Bay wide receiver Antonio Freeman said. "We just have to put this game behind us. Yet, this was a game that we had our sights set on."

Detroit's offense, stymied in last Sunday's loss at New Orleans, finally opened up behind the running of Barry Sanders and the passing of Scott Mitchell.

Sanders, who has eight regular-season 100-yard rushing games against Green Bay, had 139 yards in 28 carries. Mitchell, who turned the ball over four times at New Orleans, was 17 of 27 passing for 215 yards and one touchdown without any interceptions.

"After a game like New Orleans, it was very important for us to turn it around and have a good game," Mitchell said. "Unfortunately, because of the schedule, that meant we were going to have to do that against Green Bay. But we did what we needed to do."

Favre, under heavy pressure much of the time, completed 22 of 43 for 295 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions. He refused to speak with reporters afterward.

"They know that teams will come to play," Packer Coach Mike Holmgren said. "It's hard enough when you haven't won the Super Bowl, so every game is going to be a battle."

Ryan Longwell accounted for the rest of the Packer points with three field goals. Jason Hanson kicked four field goals for Detroit.

Defense turned the game around for the Lions.

Brown picked off an ill-advised Favre pass and returned it 45 yards for his second touchdown of the season and suddenly the Lions had a 7-6 lead. Favre slipped to his knees on the play, but elected to throw anyway.

"I saw Favre fall down," Brown said. "He was on his knees. I figured he wanted to get rid of the ball. When I saw the ball up in the air, all I wanted to do was focus on it. After I had it in my hands, there was a moment of hesitation, then I took off."

The Lions went 74 yards on four plays on their next possession, with rookie tight end Pete Chryplewicz getting a touchdown on a four-yard reception.

"To beat the defending Super Bowl champions at home and after a disappointing game last week is very big for us," Chryplewicz said.

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