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Published: Monday, 11/11/2002

Lions notebook: Detroit scores on first touch, but sputters from then on

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Detroit receiver Az-Zahir Hakim is hoisted onto the shoulders of teammate Mikhael Ricks after catching a 64-yard touchdown pass on the Lions' first play. Detroit receiver Az-Zahir Hakim is hoisted onto the shoulders of teammate Mikhael Ricks after catching a 64-yard touchdown pass on the Lions' first play.
AP Enlarge

GREEN BAY, Wis. - The Detroit Lions started out with a bang yesterday, but it turned out to be the lone shot they would fire during a first half totally dominated by Green Bay en route to a 40-14 Packer victory at Lambeau Field.

After waiting through a 13-play drive that took 7:13 off the clock and resulted in a Green Bay field goal, the Detroit offense got its first crack from its own 36-yard line.

Quarterback Joey Harrington immediately unleashed a bomb, connecting with Az-Zahir Hakim for a 64-yard scoring play and a 7-3 lead.

About 15 yards into his route, Hakim stutter-stepped and Packer cornerback Mike McKenzie anticipated an out cut. He bit and Hakim ran right past him, breaking wide open down the right sideline.

The Lions, however, would not get another 64 yards, total, before halftime, at which point they were buried 30-7.

They finished the first half with 120 total yards and just two first downs.

Green Bay, meanwhile, had 18 first downs and 345 yards of total offense by halftime.

Possession time was an astounding 24 minutes and 11 seconds for the Packers, 5:49 for Detroit.

“We never got back in any groove as far as our execution after that first play,” Hakim said. “We left our defense on the field far too long.

“I can't pinpoint what's wrong with the offense right now. It just takes 11 guys executing on every drive. We're not doing that.”

RISKY BUSINESS: The Lions trailed by just 13-7 with about 7 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter when coach Marty Mornhinweg gambled by going for it on fourth-and-one at the Detroit 35-yard line. Harrington tried a quarterback sneak, but was stood up by Packer linebacker Na'il Diggs for no gain.

“We don't second-guess,” Mornhinweg said. “Coming in, I thought we'd have to take some calculated risks. At that point of the game we couldn't buy a first down. I was concerned with our defense being on the field for so long, so I thought it was worth the try.”

The Packers ran 50 first-half plays to just 20 by the Lions.

NOT NEEDED: Packers' running back Ahman Green, who has averaged 111.5 yards rushing in games against the Lions, was well on his way to triple figures before taking a blow to the head and suffering a neck stinger midway through the second quarter. He had 50 yards on his first 12 carries.

Green didn't return to the game and the Packers didn't miss him as backups Najeh Davenport (73 yards) and Tony Fisher (27) picked up the slack.

Davenport suffered a late ankle injury and also left the game, prompting this comment by Lions cornerback Todd Lyght: “We knocked both backs out and they still got 500 yards. That's just a bad day, man.”

Green Bay finished with a 503-362 edge in total offense.

THREE-DOT DATA: Detroit running back James Stewart had a career-long gain of 56 yards with just under 12:00 to play, keying a drive that resulted in a Harrington-to-Mikhael Ricks touchdown pass from one yard out that pulled the Lions within 40-14. ... Stewart finished with 122 yards on 15 carries. ... Detroit linebacker Donte Curry caused two second-half fumbles, both recovered by teammate Shaun Rogers, but his offensive teammates wasted both opportunities. The first drive reached the Green Bay 4-yard line before a Harrington pass was both deflected and intercepted by outside linebacker Nate Wayne. The other possession reached the Packer 5 before the Lions turned the ball over on downs with about 6:00 to play. ... Detroit was 1-for-13 on third-down plays and 1-of-4 on fourth-down bids. ... Backup cornerback Andre Goodman suffered a fractured thumb and could have surgery as soon as today, Mornhinweg said.



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