The resurgent Lions go for their first 4-1 start since 1991 when they take on the sinking Packers in an NFC North Division matchup.
Detroit harassed Vick into three turnovers, including a fumble in the final minute that sealed the victory, as the Lions bounced back nicely from a 30-13 home loss to Philadelphia the previous week.
“This is a whole different team,” cornerback Fernando Bryant said. “We don’t care what happened in the past.”
Detroit started last season 1-6 and finished 5-11, but coach Steve Mariucci is getting results in his second season with the Lions since arriving from San Francisco. Detroit is tied with Minnesota for the division lead.
“I love the resiliency of this team,” Mariucci said.
The Lions will face a similar challenge this week in the form of another mobile star quarterback, Brett Favre. Vick faced intense pressure throughout the game from Detroit, and there’s a good chance Favre will get the same treatment from an aggressive Lions defense.
Joey Harrington had another efficient game for the Lions last week, completing 16 of 24 attempts for 146 yards. The third-year quarterback has a 123.4 fourth-quarter passer rating, third-best in the NFL. He’s thrown for seven touchdowns and only two interceptions.
Detroit also had success against Atlanta running back Warrick Dunn, limiting him to 44 yards on 18 carries, and the Lions will try to repeat that performance against the Packers’ Ahman Green, who has struggled while his team has fallen into last place in the division.
Since rushing 33 times for 119 yards in Green Bay’s opening win at Carolina, Green’s carries have fallen to 24, 17, 15 and 10 in the last four games. He’s been unable to hold on to the ball, fumbling four times this season, and has looked nothing like the back who gained 1,887 yards and scored 20 touchdowns last season.
Green had another costly turnover Monday night as the Packers lost 48-27 at home to Tennessee. Titans nose tackle Kevin Carter’s recovery of Green’s fumble at the Green Bay 34 led to a field goal that gave Tennessee a 17-0 first-half lead, helping send the Packers to their first four-game losing streak since 1991 and first 0-3 home start since 1988.
“This is unfamiliar territory,” said Packers coach Mike Sherman, who chewed out Green on the sideline after the fumble.
The Titans brought the league’s worst run defense into Lambeau Field, giving up more than five yards per carry. But the Packers had just five yards total at halftime, and Green finished with only 33 yards on 10 rushes.
Opponents have adjusted to Green Bay’s run-heavy offense, and a sievelike defense has forced Favre to throw more than the Packers would like.
“If I’m correct, we go to Detroit this week,” Favre said. “If we can’t win one at home, let’s see if we can win one on the road.”
Packers offensive coordinator Tom Rossley underwent emergency heart surgery to clear at least one blocked artery Tuesday.
“He’s fine, everything went well,” Sherman said. “He’s at home right now, will probably come in tomorrow.”
Sherman said Rossley, 58, wanted to report to work Wednesday, when the Packers installed their game plan for the Lions, but Sherman told him to stay home. Sherman said he wasn’t sure whether Rossley would make the trip to Detroit.
“Right now, we’re just going to wait to see what the doctor says and we’ll see at the end of the week,” he said.
If Rossley doesn’t make the trip, Sherman will call the plays on Sunday, something he hasn’t done much of in his four-plus seasons as head coach. Sherman, whose background is on offense, prepared the offensive game plan Tuesday and ran the unit at practice Wednesday
The Packers had won six in a row in the series before the Lions took the second of last year’s two matchups. The last six meetings in Detroit have been decided by eight points or less, with the Lions going 4-2 in those contests.
Lions standout receiver Roy Williams may be available Sunday after spraining his left ankle against the Falcons. Williams leads NFL rookies with four TDs and ranks third with 20 catches and 295 yards receiving.