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THE NFL WEEK 1 | GREEN BAY 38, DETROIT 19

Packers Have Answer When Fair Poses a Question

September 07, 1998|From Associated Press

GREEN BAY, Wis. — First, Terry Fair returned a kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown to bring Detroit to within five points as the third quarter ended.

"It really changed the tempo of the game," Lion receiver Herman Moore said.

For all of about 22 seconds.

Roell Preston responded with a 100-yard touchdown return to restore order in the Packers' 38-19 victory Sunday.

"By golly, we let them right off the hook," Lion Coach Bobby Ross lamented.

By golly, Detroit sure did.

The big names turned in workmanlike days, the Lions' Barry Sanders gaining 70 yards in 17 carries and Green Bay's Brett Favre completing 24 of 32 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns.

But Sanders' streak of 100-yard rushing games was stopped at 14, and 84 of Favre's yards came on a scoring hookup with Antonio Freeman with 1:53 to play and the game well in hand.

It got out of hand for a while late in the third quarter and early in the fourth with the dueling kickoff returns, the first time it's happened in the NFL since 1987.

"Some guys were putting on the oxygen masks after that," Packer special teams' player Travis Jervey said.

Fair's attempt at a third consecutive touchdown return ended at his 24, when tired tacklers Bill Schroeder and Roosevelt Blackmon ended the madness.

Packer Coach Mike Holmgren couldn't have received a better response.

"It was huge, because the momentum shift that takes place when you have one against you is big," he said. "It kind of got quiet there. But then those guys rallied. The return team got in there kind of mad because it's a lot of the same people who just gave up the return."

The Packers have won 28 consecutive games at Lambeau Field.

They ran their streak to 37 quarters without giving up a touchdown pass before Scott Mitchell threw one of 25 yards in the third quarter to Moore.

The touchdown capped a drive that began at the 50 thanks to Fair's 49-yard return. But Mitchell's two-point conversion pass failed, leaving the Lions down, 17-12.

Green Bay took nearly 10 minutes on an 18-play, 85-yard drive capped with a six-yard touchdown pass to Freeman with 17 seconds to play in the third quarter.

The Lions answered in a flash with Fair, trimming the Green Bay lead to 24-19.

And were answered just as quickly by Preston, who made it 31-19.

Dorsey Levens carried 25 times for 59 yards and had a four-yard touchdown run for the Packers, a week after ending his contract holdout.

He also caught seven passes for 38 yards.

"I guess that's their definition of working me in slowly," Levens said.

The wacky play might have had a preamble in the first quarter when the Packers' LeRoy Butler scored on a 32-yard fumble return that began with what is normally football's safest play: a quarterback sneak.

On fourth and inches from his 41, Detroit's Mitchell tried a sneak, but he went into the pile standing up instead of getting his pads low and was spun around by tackle Santana Dotson.

Linebacker Brian Williams stripped the ball and Butler scooped it up, rumbling 32 yards for a 10-0 lead.

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