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Published: Friday, 11/23/2007

Favre, Packers riding high while Kitna, Lions tumbling

DETROIT - The Green Bay Packers are 10-1 and Brett Favre is having the time of his life.

The Detroit Lions have dropped three straight, a once-promising season is slipping away, and Jon Kitna is not. Having the time of his life, that is.

The Lions, always pumped for their rare national TV exposure on Thanksgiving Day, thoroughly dominated play during the first quarter yesterday, but settled for two field goals. Detroit had the ball for 12:04 out of 15 minutes, ran 23 plays from scrimmage to seven for Green Bay and had a 6-0 edge in first downs.

Kitna drove the Lions to the Green Bay 1 before a penalty did them in, and started a possession at the Packers' 25 after a turnover. All Detroit had to show for it was a 6-0 lead, and that's something Favre can erase with one throw, which, of course, he did.

And when he was done - three touchdown passes and a season-high 381 yards later - the Packers owned a 37-26 victory before 63,257 fans at Ford Field.

Being chewed up by a decent quarterback is nothing new for the Lions in what is now a 6-5 season.

But Favre is not merely a decent quarterback. Aside from New England's Tom Brady, who in 2007 is playing the position better, perhaps, than anyone has ever played it, and Indy's Peyton Manning, Favre remains the game's clutch money player behind center.

Honestly, who would you suit up if you needed one magical player to make one magical play?

Favre is 38 years old and in his 17th season and NFL records seem to tumble every time he steps onto the field. Yesterday Favre passed Dan Marino with three or more touchdown passes in the same game for the 63rd time in his career.

Touchdown No. 3 came late in the third quarter on what was his 18th consecutive completion. Favre had never completed more than 15 in a row before - as hard as that might be to imagine, it's easy to imagine he'd do it against this Lions defense - and he strung together a franchise-record 20 completions before another apparent success, not to mention another TD, was erased by officials who ruled Favre's receiver was out of bounds.

So the Packers settled for a field goal that bumped the score to 34-12 and the exit rows at Ford Field became quite crowded indeed.

Most 38-year-old NFL quarterbacks, a rare breed to begin with, are a very old 38. Favre still runs around and jumps around and chest-bumps teammates with the pure joy of a kid on the sandlot.

There was some question whether Favre would return this season, some question whether his level of play had deteriorated. Sounds silly now, and it would seem automatic that he'll be back for more in 2008.

Since Sept. 27, 1992, exactly one quarterback, Favre, has started every game played by his team. The streak reached 248 games yesterday.

Kitna, meanwhile, is one of 15 quarterbacks who have started for the Lions since that date. And that's not even the extreme. The Chicago Bears have started 20 different quarterbacks. Heck, Joey Harrington - remember him, Lions fans? - yesterday started a third straight Thanksgiving Day game in a third different uniform.

That's more the reality of the NFL. Favre is the exception. Not to mention exceptional.

During a break early in the game, the Lions presented a ring to their all-time great tight end, Charlie Sanders, the franchise's most recent addition to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But he certainly wasn't the only Hall-of-Famer in the stadium.



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