Packers take one-game lead in NFC North

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- There are still two sure things in Green
Bay: Ryan Longwell inside 40 yards and Brett Favre beating the
Detroit Lions at home.

The Packers only led for 2 seconds Sunday, but that was enough
to keep their stranglehold over the Lions, who haven't won in
Wisconsin since 1991, the year before Favre's arrival.

Longwell's 23-yard field goal gave Green Bay a 16-13 win over
the Lions and lifted the Packers (8-5) into first place in the NFC
North by a game over Minnesota, which lost at home to Seattle.

It was Longwell's third game-winner in five weeks and his 43rd
straight conversion from 40 yards in.

"What can you say? I look down there, he gives me the
thumbs-up," Packers coach Mike Sherman said. "I can't say I don't
still say a few prayers when he's lining up to kick it. I do. But
they're always answered."

Favre always has an answer for the Lions.

He led Green Bay back from a 13-0 halftime deficit with four
scoring drives, including a 90-yarder into the flag-whipping wind
for the Packers' only touchdown after Ahman Green's 79-yard TD
catch was negated by a debatable holding call on rookie center
Scott Wells.

Favre, who is 14-0 at home against the Lions, completed just 3
of 15 passes for 28 yards in the first half but he was an amazing
16-of-21 in the swirling winds for 160 yards and a touchdown in the
second half.

"Even with no defense out there, it (would have been) difficult
to complete passes," Favre said.

Snow flurries dampened the field into what Longwell called a
"swampy mess" and swirling winds with gusts up to 35 mph wreaked
havoc on passes, punts and long snaps and caused a slew of drops.

"There's never anything routine about a field goal here, and
today there was nothing routine about an extra point," said
Longwell, who slipped on the opening kickoff and left a three-foot
skid mark on his game-tying, 28-yard field goal early in the fourth

"The wind was blowing harder than I've ever seen it here."

Lions rookie receiver Roy Williams said he thought he had a
catch on the sideline once and as he went to cradle the ball "the
wind took it like a Tim Wakefield knuckleball."

The Lions wasted a prime chance to get into the playoff picture
in the muddled NFC, falling to 5-8.

Their quarterback, Joey Harrington, completed just 5 of 22
passes for 47 yards as the Lions relied on rookie running back
Kevin Jones, who rushed 33 times for 156 yards and a touchdown.

The Packers hadn't held an opponent to so few completions since
Oct. 29, 1978, against Tampa Bay.

"We haven't scored an offensive touchdown in the second half
the last five weeks, that is just mind-boggling," Williams said.
"We just aren't effective, it makes no sense."

Longwell's game-winner capped a 10-play, 37-yard drive after the
Packers got the ball back at the Detroit 42 with 3:27 left and the
wind at their backs.

The Packers had a terrible first half. Favre entered the game
needing 28 yards to tie Dan Marino's NFL record of 13 consecutive
3,000-yard seasons, and he had exactly that amount at halftime.

Jason Hanson's 31-yard field goal was the only scoring either
team managed in the first quarter. Jones made it 10-0 when he deked
safety Darren Sharper, slipped behind center Dominic Raiola and
shook off Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila on his way to scoring the first
rushing touchdown Green Bay had allowed in 22 quarters.

Hanson added a 36-yard field goal into the wind for a 13-0
halftime lead.

The game turned after a halftime tirade by Sherman.

Longwell's 36-yard field goal made it 13-3. After Green's
79-yard touchdown catch-and-run was negated by head linesman Paul
Weidner's debatable holding call on Wells, the Packers were pushed
back to their 13.

Favre then drove the Packers downfield against the wind, capping
the drive with a 23-yard touchdown toss to Donald Driver that made
it 13-10 late in the third quarter.

Game notes
LB Nick Barnett, who led the Packers with 14 tackles,
explained his highly emotional level of play was due to the death
of his elderly father from cancer last week. ... Driver said his
father-in-law also died last week. ... Packers LB Nick Rogers
injured his left knee and will have an MRI on Monday. ... Longwell
has scored in all 125 games of his career.


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