Radical changes in Detroit's defense finally produced some big plays for the Lions. The offense did the rest.
Detroit's maligned defense came up with three interceptions and one crucial fumble. Scott Mitchell, shaking off a sore wrist, connected with Herman Moore on three touchdown passes, and Barry Sanders rushed 22 times for 167 yards as the Lions defeated the Green Bay Packers 24-16 Sunday."We needed those interceptions," coach Wayne Fontes said. "We haven't made those. Those are the big plays that win football games."
The most radical change had safety Bennie Blades playing up at a linebacker position on many plays. Blades was in on 12 tackles.
The idea, Fontes said, was to lure the Packers into running the ball. If it worked, the Lions might not be hurt so much by Brett Favre's passing.
It worked fairly well. Edgar Bennett rushed 22 times for 121 yards, but Favre had only one touchdown toss.
"I was the dummy today," Blades said. "Of course, other teams see a smaller guy in there, they're going to run right at him. I'm not a linebacker. I don't care what anybody says. One game is fine. But the rest of the season, I don't think so."
The Packers (5-3), who have lost nine straight on artificial turf, appeared to be driving for a touchdown late in the game. But a hit by Tracy Scroggins caused Favre to give up the first fumble by the Packers offense this season.
Chris Spielman recovered, and the Lions (3-5), avenging a 30-21 loss at Green Bay two weeks ago, ran out the clock, halting a two-game losing streak.
Favre's arm was cocked when he was hit and the Packers argued unsuccessfully that the play should simply have been an imcomplete pass.
"I was trying to give Mark (Ingram) some time to make his move, and he made a great play to get open," Favre said. "If I had one more second, it was an easy touchdown. But Scroggins made a great play."
Favre, who completed 26 of 43 for 304 yards, hooked up on a 77-yard scoring play with Robert Brooks for Green Bay's only touchdown. Chris Jacke kicked field goals of 20, 50 and 28 yards for the Packers, who had won three straight.
Brooks finished with 127 yards on six receptions. Bennett added 50 yards on six receptions.
"I have no idea what happened on that play at the end," Packers' coach Mike Holmgren said. "I thought it was going to be an incomplete pass."
Ex-Ute Mitchell, who missed one day of practice because of tendinitis in his left wrist, completed 15 of 23 for 249 yards and Jason Hanson added a 37-yard field goal for Detroit.
"It's a big win," Fontes said. "I told them to go out and enjoy this win, to enjoy this night. They deserved it."
It was the first three-touchdown game for Moore, who had six catches for 147 yards. He was sensational in the first half, turning routine passes into touchdowns as the Lions built a 21-10 halftime lead.
- On his first score, a 10-yarder, Moore beat cornerback Doug Evans on a slant pattern.
- On the Lions' first snap of the second quarter, following Jacke's 20-yarder, Moore caught the ball a step behind Craig Newsome at the Lions' 38 and pulled away up the middle to complete the 69-yard score.
- Late in the second quarter, Moore caught the ball at the 5, spun away from Newsome and dashed into the end zone to complete the 29-yard scoring play.
"Moore is an outstanding pass receiver, and he's going to have days like this," Holmgren said. "Craig's a rookie, playing cornerback in the NFL. But over his career, he's going to win a lot more of those battles than he's going lose."
The Lions had come up with only seven turnovers - two fumbles and five interceptions - in their first seven games. They had not had an interception since the San Francisco game Sept. 25.
"I think the most important statistic in the league today is turnovers," Holmgren said. "You can't expect to make as many as we did today and win. It wasn't the turf and it wasn't the noise. It was the turnovers, Barry Sanders and Herman Moore."