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Lions sack Packers in opener

Favre struggles as Detroit takes early lead in NFC North

Detroit tight end Marcus Pollard loses control of the ball on the goal line after getting hit by Packers safety Mark Roman on Sunday.
Detroit tight end Marcus Pollard loses control of the ball on the goal line after getting hit by Packers safety Mark Roman on Sunday.
Carlos Osorio, Associated Press

Brett Favre's 15th season got off to a dreadful start.

Two of Favre's three turnovers led to 10 points in a game in which scoring was scarce, helping the Detroit Lions beat the Green Bay Packers 17-3 Sunday.

Detroit won its opener for a third straight year, but the Lions hope this season doesn't wind up like the last two — or the two before that. Since 2001, the Lions have lost an NFL-high 48 games.

Joey Harrington threw two touchdown passes , including one to rookie Mike Williams with 4:13 left, to give Detroit an early lead in the NFC North following Minnesota and Chicago losses earlier in the day.

Favre then drove to Detroit's 12 before he was sacked twice and threw his second interception, a heave on fourth down from the 33 picked by Terrence Holt in the end zone. The three-time MVP finished 27-of-44 for 201 yards with two interceptions and one fumble.

The Packers had their worst day offensively since Sept. 13, 1992, when Tampa Bay beat them 31-3, two weeks before Favre started his record streak of playing 227 straight games, including the playoffs. Green Bay didn't have a first down in the second half Sunday until its sixth drive.

Favre fumbled on the opening possession of the second half, leading to Jason Hanson's 21-yard field goal.

His interception midway through the fourth quarter, snagged by a diving Kenoy Kennedy, whose fumble was caught by teammate Holt, led to Williams' 3-yard TD catch.

The three-time defending division champions had beaten the Lions in eight of the last nine meetings.

Harrington was 15-of-28 for 167 yards with two TDs, and no turnovers. Kevin Jones ran for 87 yards and Marcus Pollard caught five passes for 58 yards, including a 9-yard TD on Detroit's second drive.

Green Bay's Ahman Green was held to 58 yards and Donald Driver had four catches for 48 yards.

It was a game that was expected to develop into a high-scoring affair, but both teams struggled to get to the end zone, or simply move the ball.

Green Bay's offense took a hit when Javon Walker, Favre's favorite target, went down early in the third quarter with an injured right knee.

The Packers hurt their chances with 14 penalties for 100 yards and Favre argued for at least a few calls that were not made against the Lions. Green Bay cornerback Ahmad Carroll was flagged for illegal use of hands three times, including twice on one drive, and two other penalties that were declined. Detroit's first-string offense didn't score a TD in the preseason, but did on its second drive.

Harrington threw a 9-yard TD pass to Pollard after an earlier pass to him in the end zone was broken up by safety Mark Roman.Green Bay got to the Lions' 4 on the ensuing drive, but came away empty because holder B.J. Sander mishandled a good snap on a botched field-goal attempt.

On the Packers' next possession, Ryan Longwell kicked a 50-yard field goal to make it 7-3 late in the second quarter.

Favre's fumble gave the Lions great field position, but Green Bay stuffed Jones on a dive from the 1 and broke up a pass in the end zone, forcing them to settle for a field goal.

BUCCANEERS 24, VIKINGS 13: At Minneapolis, Brian Kelly had two interceptions, the last one at his 6-yard line with 1:45 left that sealed a scrappy victory for Tampa Bay.

Rookie tight end Alex Smith caught two touchdown passes for the Bucs, which also forced two fumbles by Daunte Culpepper and allowed only 26 yards rushing.

Another Bucs rookie, Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, added a 71-yard touchdown run with 1:23 remaining against a revamped Vikings defense that played pretty well until that point.

Coming off a career-best season, Culpepper looked more like a rookie than a three-time Pro Bowler. He threw his third interception to Derrick Brooks, on the final, desperation drive and finished 22-for-33 for 233 yards.

STEELERS 34, TITANS 7: At Pittsburgh, Willie Parker had a dazzling first career start with 161 yards rushing and a long reception, and a mistake-free Ben Roethlisberger threw for two scores.

The Steelers won their 15th in a row during the regular season, four short of the Patriots' NFL record they stopped last season. Roethlisberger improved to 14-0 as an NFL starter during the season, and his play was as perfect as his record. So was his perfect 158.3 passer rating; he is the first NFL quarterback since Kansas City's Trent Green in 2003 to have a perfect rating.

Steve McNair looked fine after missing half the 2004 season with a sternum injury, going 18-of-26 for 219 yards and a touchdown, and Chris Brown averaged 5.7 yards on his 11 carries.

REDSKINS 9, BEARS 7: At Landover, Md., the Washington Redskins allowed only 166 yards, and John Hall kicked three field goals.

The Redskins overcame three turnovers, five untimely penalties and the loss of QB Patrick Ramsey, who had his neck wrung by blitzing linebacker Lance Briggs in the second quarter. Mark Brunell entered to lead three drives for field goals, powered in part by the running of Clinton Portis, who rushed for 121 yards on 21 carries.

Kyle Orton was the first rookie quarterback to start for Chicago on opening day in 51 years. Orton, starting because of an injury to Rex Grossman, completed 15 of 28 passes for 141 yards.

JAGUARS 26, SEAHAWKS 14: At Jacksonville, Fla., Jimmy Smith caught seven passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns for the Jaguars.

The Seahawks kept the game close until two costly errors in the final seven minutes.

Linebacker Daryl Smith intercepted a pass by Matt Hasselbeck that led to a 29-yard field goal by Josh Scobee. Akin Ayodele sacked Hasselbeck on the ensuing drive, caused a fumble and set up another field goal. Scobee finished with four field goals.

Jacksonville's defense was stout, as usual. The unit held Shaun Alexander to 73 yards on 14 carries. Hasselbeck finished 21-of-38 for 246 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions.

BENGALS 27, BROWNS 13: At Cleveland, Carson Palmer threw two touchdown passes and the Bengals spoiled Romeo Crennel's coaching debut with the Browns.

The Bengals haven't had a winning record since 1990. Now, in capturing their first opener since 2001, they're 1-0 for the first time in three seasons under coach Marvin Lewis.

Palmer picked apart Cleveland's secondary, finishing 26-of-34 for 280 yards and one interception. Rudi Johnson rushed for 126 yards on 26 carries and 1-yard TD run, and Shayne Graham kicked two field goals.

Making just his third start since 2003, Browns quarterback Trent Dilfer finished 26-of-43 for 278 yards and one touchdown.

BILLS 22, TEXANS 7: At Orchard Park, N.Y., making his NFL debut as a starter, J.P. Losman engineered scoring drives on each of Buffalo's first five possessions. The 2004 first-round draft pick who has taken over for Drew Bledsoe finished 17-of-28 for 170 yards and a touchdown.

Rian Lindell hit a career-high five field goals, one short of the franchise record set by Steve Christie in 1996.

The defense did the rest, generating five turnovers, five sacks and limiting Houston to 107 yards. Houston had seven possessions of three plays or less.

CHIEFS 27, JETS 7: At Kansas City, Mo., Kansas City's improved defense came within 29 seconds of a shutout. Although weakened by first-half injuries to starters Patrick Surtain and Ryan Sims, the Chiefs held the mistake-prone Jets out of the end zone until the final half-minute.

The Chiefs forced seven fumbles and recovered two. Chad Pennington was sacked three times. Pennington, coming off shoulder surgery, was intercepted once and had several passes dropped.

Larry Johnson rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries and Priest Holmes added 85 yards and a touchdown for an offense that scored 17 points on its first three possessions.

COWBOYS 28, CHARGERS 24: At San Diego, Drew Bledsoe threw three touchdown passes, two to Keyshawn Johnson, and became the 10th player in NFL history to throw for 40,000 yards. Bledsoe threw the winning 2-yard touchdown pass with 3:06 left as Johnson beat cornerback Sammy Davis on a quick out.

The Cowboys didn't get to celebrate, though, until Aaron Glenn intercepted Drew Brees' throw in the end zone with 24 seconds left. Brees kept alive a desperation drive with a 33-yard completion to Eric Parker to the Dallas 7 in the final minute. Then Brees' fourth-down pass bounced off Parker and Glenn came down with it.

San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson was held to 72 yards on 19 carries. He scored on a 2-yard run in the first quarter, his 13th straight game with a TD rushing to tie the NFL record held by John Riggins and George Rogers.

Brees threw two touchdown passes to Keenan McCardell and was intercepted twice.

GIANTS 42, CARDINALS 19: At East Rutherford, N.J., the Giants had their highest point total in more than two seasons. Eli Manning threw for two scores, Willie Ponder returned a kickoff 95 yards for a score and Chad Morton, signed by the Giants a week and a half ago, returned a punt 52 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Kurt Warner, the former two-time MVP acquired by the Giants last year to guide Manning through his rookie season, finished 27-for-46 for 264 yards and one touchdown in his first start for Arizona.

COLTS 24, RAVENS 7: At Baltimore, the Colts barely missed their first shutout since 1997, while Peyton Manning threw two touchdown passes.

Manning, a two-time league MVP, went 21-for-36 for 254 yards and no interceptions, and Marvin Harrison had six catches for 69 yards. But the real story was the marvelous play of the Indianapolis defense. Cato June returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown and the Colts limited Jamal Lewis to 48 yards rushing.