By Drew Olson Special to Published Dec 18, 2006 at 5:22 AM Photography: Allen Fredrickson
It wasn’t so long ago that the Packers could turn in a sub-par performance at Lambeau Field and still overwhelm many opponents with a mix of tradition, reputation, and talent.

Those days are gone, but -- thanks to the Detroit Lions -- they aren’t forgotten.

The Packers were hideous on offense Sunday in a tougher-than-it-needed-to-be 17-9 victory, but the Lions, who haven’t won a game in Wisconsin in 16 years, were beyond brutal.

Rookie coach Rod Marinelli’s crew, decimated by injuries, failed to capitalize on four turnovers, including a late interception that could (should?) have led to a go-ahead touchdown, and saw their record fall to 2-12.

Though they probably felt a trifle guilty about claiming victory, the Packers improved to 6-8 heading into a matchup with Minnesota on Thursday night.

You may hear some people this week say that particular game has playoff ramifications.

Don’t believe them.

While it’s true that the Packers haven’t been mathematically eliminated from post-season contention yet, another performance like Sunday – against any team but the Lions – will do the trick.

In order to earn a wild-card berth in the watered-down NFC, the Packers need to beat the Vikings and Bears and then have a few other things go their way (like a non-fatal accident between the New York Giants’ charter plane and the Atlanta Falcons bus).

Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre didn’t seem to be in the throes of "playoff fever" when he met the press after the game. Adopting an almost sheepish tone after breaking Dan Marino’s record for completions, Favre put the victory in perspective.

"I stand humbled before you as I am today," Favre said. “I can't even believe we're mentioning the playoffs … If we think we can get into the playoffs playing like that ... I'm just calling it as I see it. I'm as much to blame as anyone. We were lucky to win the game."

The only luck the Packers needed Sunday was the Lions in the visitor’s locker room. Jon Kitna finished with a better quarterback rating than Favre (42.9 to 32.9), but he called Detroit’s offensive effort the worst of the year.

That’s saying something, folks.

Detroit fans, who no doubt have visions of A.J. Hawk's brother-in-law (Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn) dancing in their heads, can blame Kitna for two putrid interceptions and a fumble.

But, what about the guys in headsets who ordered up two unsuccessful quarterback sneaks in short-yardage situations?

Yikes. Does Matt Millen call the plays, too?

Packers fans may have come to realize that Favre is human, but even his biggest detractors must admit that on his worst day, Favre is better than Kitna, who is the cousin of former Brewers outfielder Chris Magruder.

Favre wasn’t anywhere close to sharp on Sunday, but he didn’t get a lot of help, either.

Green Bay’s offensive effort was highlighted by Vernand Morency’s two rushing touchdowns, The lowlights included dropped touchdown passes by tight ends Donald Lee and David Martin and two passes that were tipped by Ahman Green and bounced into enemy hands.

The Packers got great pressure from defensive ends Aaron Kampman and Cullen Jenkins (didn’t he replace KG-what’s-his-name?) and superior coverage from cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson. But, it was against the Lions, who were missing a slew of starters and got a total of 24 yards on 12 carries by Arlen Harris and Aveion Cason.
Drew Olson Special to

Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.