In winless matchup, Detroit says it must beat Green Bay

Saturday, September 23rd 2006, 12:39 pm
By: News On 6

DETROIT (AP) _ In a matchup of winless teams, both the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers have a good opportunity to finally get a win this week.

For one thing, each knows the team on the other side of the field also is off to a struggling start with a head coach in his first year at any level.

``Somebody's got to win,'' Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson said. ``We're going in definitely confident.''

Even though it's just Week 3, the Lions are not hiding their sense of urgency _ and they expect the Packers to have the same mind-set.

``I would think both teams are looking at it like a must-win game because we're kind of mirror images of each other,'' Detroit guard Damien Woody said. ``I'm sure both teams, all week, are saying we have to get this win because we don't want to be 0-3 _ and 0-2 in the division.''

Detroit and Green Bay each were routed by the Chicago Bears and lost another game in which they were competitive. The Lions fell to Seattle 9-6 and the Packers had a 34-27 setback against New Orleans.

This Sunday's game may not be a thing of beauty, but at least Packers quarterback Brett Favre could make the afternoon memorable by reaching another milestone. Favre is one touchdown pass away from No. 400, a total only Dan Marino (420) has reached in NFL history.

When Favre is flinging passes in Detroit, Woody plans to take at least a peek. In 15 seasons with the Packers, Favre has career-highs in completions, attempts and yards passing against the Lions and has beaten them 21 times, including twice in the playoffs.

``Watching a (future) Hall of Famer, I have a great deal of respect for him,'' Woody said. ``Even when I'm on the sideline, I love watching him because you don't know what he's going to do. Hopefully, he doesn't do anything really good against us.''

Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said Favre has ``plenty of gas left in the tank,'' but acknowledged the three-time MVP can't do everything he used to on the field.

``He is 36 years old, he doesn't run as well as he used to,'' McCarthy said. ``He doesn't throw the ball through the wall like he used to _ he puts a dent in it.''

Favre hopes he doesn't have to throw as often as he did against the Saints last week, when he was 31-for-55 for 340 yards with three TDs and an interception.

``We know we can't make a living week in and week out having to throw that many times, especially being as young as we are,'' he said. ``We're struggling a little bit with protection up front. If you have to drop back 40 times at Detroit, there's no doubt that somebody's going to come free at some point.''

That somebody might be Shaun Rogers, one of the NFL's best defensive tackles and perhaps the only source of encouragement for the Lions while it has lost a league-high 61 games since 2001. Rogers will be going against rookie guards, but McCarthy plans to give them help in what could be a lopsided matchup.

``We're not just going to play one on one with Shaun Rogers, I think that's a safe bet,'' McCarthy said.

If Green Bay's line gives Favre time to throw _ or he scrambles to buy time _ he might find some open receivers because Lions rookie Daniel Bullocks will start in place of injured strong safety Kenoy Kennedy. Detroit free safety Terrence Holt said he and Bullocks will have to be sharp and disciplined against Favre.

``He will do some things that are unorthodox,'' Holt said. ``If he reads one side of the field and it's covered, he'll take a chance to throw it backside when most quarterbacks wouldn't do that.''

Most receivers don't signal first down when their team is losing badly, but Roy Williams did last week at Chicago _ where he guaranteed the Lions would win. He isn't apologizing for his actions that are annoying even fans in Detroit.

``Everybody gets mad about my first-down signal,'' Williams said. ``I'm going to give you my first-down signal if we're down 100-0 because I'm competing and fighting and I want my team to feed off of that excitement.''

Mike Martz created a buzz when he accepted the challenge of being Detroit's offensive coordinator, but so far the unit has scored just 13 points in two games.

``It's kind of like golf,'' quarterback Jon Kitna explained. ``We're hitting the driver good, we're getting on the green and we're three-putting. We keep taking two steps forward and one step back, and you can't do that in this league.''

Detroit coach Rod Marinelli knows many people are saying they're seeing the same-old Lions, despite a new regime, and said they shouldn't believe anything is different yet.

``They shouldn't until we put it on tape,'' Marinelli said. ``We have to go out there and we have to perform and then they'll say, 'Oh. Hey, they're better.'''