GREEN BAY, Wis. - It used to be known as the Black and Blue Division.
Now, it's all green and gold.
And the gold standard in the NFC North, if not all of the National Football League, remains Brett Favre.
The Green Bay quarterback produced one of his best games against his all-time favorite whipping boy, the Detroit defense, yesterday at Lambeau Field.
OK, so his 351 yards passing turned out to be only the ninth-highest total of his career.
But with a 40-7 lead after three quarters, Favre and his gimpy knee took in the rest of the game from the sideline, watching the Packers finish off a 40-14 victory before 63,313 faithful.
The win upped Green Bay's record to 8-1, good for a five-game lead over the mediocrity that is the NFC North.
Favre is usually brilliant opposite the Detroit defense. He has registered more 300-yard passing games versus the Lions than against any other NFL opponent.
Yesterday, it happened for the second time this season - he had 357 yards at Ford Field on Sept. 22 - and for the seventh time overall and for the 35th time against all foes.
Favre completed 26 of 39 passes and, while the Lions' defense was certainly less than stellar at times, he also did it with hands in his face, arms wrapped around his legs and bodies ready to pounce.
“Green Bay put a football clinic on our butts today, period,” said Detroit coach Marty Mornhinweg. “Brett was outstanding. We had extra guys coming at him on multiple occasions and he was still getting the ball out. And it was right on target, sometimes [against] decent coverage.
“Favre and those receivers ... oh, man. There were times our zone coverage was pretty poor, but Brett made exceptional plays time after time.”
Early in the game, Favre moved past Joe Montana and into sixth place on the NFL's all-time yardage chart.
With 40,871 career yards, Favre trails only Dan Marino, John Elway, Warren Moon, Fran Tarkenton and Dan Fouts.
“It's hard to stop a great quarterback like him,” said Detroit cornerback Chris Cash. “He makes great plays. He made a lot more than we did today.”
With the most productive half of his career - 22 of 31 for 295 yards - Favre and the Packers scored on five of seven possessions to erase an early 7-3 Lion lead forged on a 64-yard touchdown pass from Joey Harrington to Az-Zahir Hakim.
“Going into the game, Detroit's defense really had been playing pretty good,” Favre said. “So we had a challenge. We were patient with the running game and it opened some stuff up passing. We earned everything we got and that's just effort. A lot of the throws weren't on the money, but we've got guys who want the ball.”
The Packers, who beat the Lions at home for the 12th straight time, blew the game open with a pair of touchdowns in the final two minutes of the first half.
Safety Marques Anderson returned an interception for a TD for the second time this season against Detroit when a Harrington pass deflected off the hands of Bill Schroeder at the Lion 14.
“I thought Bill was going to stop and slide outside,” Harrington said. “He stopped and slid inside. It was just a breakdown in communication.”
Anderson scored with 1:47 left in the half. By the 1:20 mark, Green Bay again was in possession and Favre drove the Pack 68 yards in six plays. The big gain was a 46-yarder on a pass to Terry Glenn that advanced the ball to the Detroit 1. Najeh Davenport bumped it over on the next play to make the halftime score 30-7.
“We just let it get away from us late in the second quarter,” Mornhinweg said.
The Packers opened the second half with Ryan Longwell's fourth field goal of the game. Favre capped a 69-yard drive with a nine-yard TD strike to William Henderson on the next possession and it was 40-7.
“Favre just makes so many tremendous plays,” Harrington said.
The Lions' quarterback, meanwhile, completed 20 of 44 passes for 236 yards, both of his team's touchdowns and two interceptions.
Mornhinweg thinks Harrington played better than the numbers might indicate.
“He missed some things early, no question,” Detroit's coach said. “But we have to help him. It starts with me. Plus, when he makes the right reads and the right throws, we have to catch it.”
Detroit receivers flat out dropped at least a half-dozen passes, several by ex-Packer Schroeder, who failed to catch a pass and spent much of the second half on the bench.
“Bill's fighting through some things right now,” Mornhinweg said of Schroeder, who exited the locker room before the media gained entrance after the game. “It was my decision that he came out. I tried to get him a catch to get started, but in the second half we changed some packages. It couldn't go on like that.
“But it's not just him. It's a lot of guys. We're going to go back to some Harry High School ball drills. We have to be able to throw and catch the ball.''
Like Favre and any of the seven receivers he threw to yesterday. Donald Driver was the ringleader with 11 catches for 130 yards.44.51279 -88.01016