GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP)—Samkon Gado’s first passing attempt was ugly.
Other than that, Green Bay’s rookie running back played a starring role Sunday night in the Packers’ 16-13 overtime victory over the Detroit Lions.
Gado rushed for 171 yards and a touchdown, allowing Brett Favre to play the steady, more conservative game he had been promising for weeks but hadn’t yet delivered.
“I think he’s making the most of his opportunity,” Favre said. “He just had an outstanding game.”
But when Gado flipped the ball out of the end zone in the fourth quarter, he nearly threw the game away with it.
The Lions wrapped up Gado in his own end zone with 6:59 remaining in regulation, prompting Gado to try to toss the ball forward. He was flagged for intentional grounding, resulting in an apparent safety that would have put the Lions ahead by two.
But officials huddled and ruled that Gado had attempted a legal pass, giving the Packers another chance.
“That was confusing, to be honest with you,” Favre said. “But he’s a bright guy with a lot of talent.”
And if Gado hadn’t flipped the ball away, he almost surely would have been caught for a safety. “I honestly can’t fault him for that,” Favre said.
Lions linebacker Earl Holmes didn’t agree with the officials’ call. Even if Gado’s flip was a legal pass, Holmes said the holding penalty officials also called on the Packers on that play occurred in the end zone and should have been an automatic safety.
“There’s no other way to tell me that that was not a safety,” Holmes said. “You can’t explain it.”
In overtime, Favre drove the Packers (3-10) 56 yards in overtime to set up Ryan Longwell’s winning 28-yard field goal.
Favre was 21-for-31 for 170 yards, throwing one interception at the end of regulation. With the victory, Favre is 15-0 at home against the Lions (4-9), including playoffs.
Gado delivered the third 100-yard rushing game of his brief Packers career. His total yardage for the game is the best ever by a Packers rookie and the seventh-best single-game performance by any back in Green Bay history.
Said Lions coach Dick Jauron: “We had confidence we could score, and if we didn’t, we’d have them backed up.”
The Packers played solid red-zone defense all game, as the Lions drove inside the Green Bay’s 10 four times but came away with only one touchdown. The Packers shut the Lions out after the first quarter.
Garcia was 13-of-24 for 112 yards.
The Lions had scoring opportunities inside the 10 on each of their first three possessions thanks to a deep drive, Favre’s fumble and a long kickoff return.
The Lions settled for field goals on their first two drives. Favre drove the Packers into Lions territory on the next possession, allowing Longwell to kick a 36-yard field goal.
On third-and-3 at the 4, Garcia lobbed a pass over cornerback Al Harris to Williams, who tipped the ball to himself and dragged a foot in bounds. A replay review ruled that Rogers’ touchdown counted. With the extra point, the Lions led 13-3.
The Packers drove the ball on their next possession, Jared DeVries blocked a 38-yard attempt by Longwell. It was the first time an opponent had blocked a Packers’ field goal since Oct. 7, 2002.
After forcing the Lions to go three-and-out on their next possession, Gado squirted around the right side and sprinted 64 yards for a touchdown.
Gado, a native of Nigeria, broke into the Packers’ starting lineup after season-ending injuries to running backs Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport.
Hanson’s first-quarter field goal gave him 1,401 career points, making him the 17th player in league history to surpass 1,400. … With an 11-yard pass to Robert Ferguson in the first quarter, Favre passed 3,000 yards for the NFL-record 14th season, breaking a tie with Dan Marino. … It was 14 degrees at the start of the game.