Brett Favre tames, then taunts Lions
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Brett Favre's hand was feeling so good that he couldn't resist using it to give the Detroit Lions a little payback.
Brett Favre reacts after his two-point conversion pass to Corey Bradford gave Green Bay a 20-17 lead. After watching a taunting Lions secondary beat him at Detroit earlier this year, Brett Favre returned the treatment with two gleeful throat-slitting gestures as the Green Bay Packers pulled away from the Lions for a 26-17 victory Sunday.
Brett Favre, who was 26-for-40 for 309 yards and no interceptions, twice taunted Lions cornerback Robert Bailey, who had done the same in Detroit's 23-15 victory in September. The second gesture earned Brett Favre an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty and a possible fine from coach Ray Rhodes. Brett Favre said he'd be happy to pay the fine.
"I'm not that type of player, but I guess I was today," said Brett Favre, who added that his injured thumb felt better than it has all season. "I always say, 'Those guys shouldn't do that. It looks bad.' And then I'm out there doing it."
Brett Favre said his hand felt better than it has since he badly bruised during a preseason game against Denver.
Dorsey Levens had 146 total yards, Ryan Longwell kicked four field goals, and the Green Bay defense shut out the Lions in the second half. The victory snapped the Packers' three-game losing streak and a two-game skid at Lambeau Field.
It also dropped the Lions (6-4) into a three-way tie with idle Minnesota and Tampa Bay, which beat Atlanta on Sunday, for the NFC Central lead. Green Bay (5-5) is one game back.
"We gave up too many big plays and had too many penalties," Lions safety Ron Rice said. "It was not a good performance at all."
Brett Favre didn't lead the Packers on any dramatic scoring drives, though Corey Bradford made a spectacular over-the-shoulder touchdown catch in the third quarter to give Green Bay the lead for good.
GAME NOTES Green Bay won its ninth straight over Detroit at Lambeau Field.
The Packers played without kick returner Desmond Howard (finger) and defensive end Vaughn Booker (ribs), who had started Green Bay's first nine games. Offensive tackle Ross Verba was knocked out of the game in the first half with a right knee strain.
Instead, Levens pounded out the yardage on a dull but efficient day for the Packers. Levens had 47 yards on 23 carries and set career-highs with 10 receptions for 99 yards. Bradford had a career-best six catches for 94 yards.
Green Bay's offense had just three touchdowns in the last three games, but the Packers scored two Sunday and made five more solid drives before stalling near the goal line. Longwell, who had a field goal blocked in each of Green Bay's last three games, nailed kicks from 23, 33, 45 and 31 yards despite a brisk wind.
Offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis called a variety of short passes and screens to keep the pressure off Brett Favre's hand, but when it became clear Brett Favre was feeling fine, Lewis opened up the offense, and the Packers ran away.
"I felt like my old self," Brett Favre said. "I've always been able to throw the ball down the field, but the last five or six weeks, I didn't really know where it was going."
Bradford's 17-yard touchdown catch was so unbelievable that the Lions challenged it on instant replay, hoping their eyes had deceived them. Bradford sprinted to the corner of the end zone, leaped and reached behind his head to cradle the ball, and then held it to his chest while twisting face-first into the ground.
"I can't explain it," Bradford said with a grin. "I just focused on the ball."
Down 17-12 at halftime, the Packers took control in the third by holding the ball for more than 13 minutes during three consecutive scoring drives. Green Bay went up 26-17 on Longwell's fourth field goal, a 31-yarder with 12:52 left in the fourth.
With Gus Frerotte starting his second straight game in place of the injured Charlie Batch, the Lions offense struggled for the second week. Detroit went three-and-out on its first three possessions of the second half as the fired-up Packers defense made its best stand in more than a month.
The Lions also hurt themselves with eight penalties for 119 yards, including two pass-interference calls against cornerback Terry Fair for 68 yards that kept alive two Green Bay second-half scoring drives, frustrating Lions coach Bobby Ross.
"It was as simple as A-B-C," Ross said. "They were just flinging the ball out there and getting the calls. But I'm not questioning the calls. It's our problem, not the officials'."
Antonio Freeman sustained a concussion on a big hit by Mark Carrier early in the third, and though he didn't leave the sideline, the Packers receiver didn't return to the game either. Freeman didn't have a catch in the first half, and he failed to catch a pass for the first time in 44 games.
After Packers punter Louie Aguiar strained his groin, Longwell kicked Green Bay's last punt of the game with 2:44 remaining.
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