"A win is a win," Paup said after the game. "It's nice to be Number 1 in defense, but that doesn't always get you into the playoffs. Winning does."
Bigger tests await, however. After a meeting with the New York Jets at Lambeau Field this week, the Packers face three straight tough road games—in Buffalo on Nov. 20, in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day and in Detroit on Dec. 4.
"We've got a monster schedule on the road," says Butler. "But we don't have to worry about anybody. They have to worry about us, especially defensively."
Out with the New
The injury to Scott Mitchell's right hand has put his season on ice for a while, and that may prove to be a blessing for the Lions. Detroit went to great and almost laughable lengths over the past 10 weeks to make the $11 million free-agent quarterback look good—everything from installing the shotgun and simplifying the play-calling to testing his vision and fitting him with contacts. But according to some NFC Central coaches, what Mitchell really needs is better coaching to correct his horrendous mechanics. Instead of wasting all that time on Mitchell, they say, Lion coach Wayne Fontes should have just bitten the bullet, admitted that Mitchell needed more seasoning and given the starting job to backup Dave Krieg.
Coming off the bench for Mitchell late in the first quarter of Sunday's loss to Green Bay, the 36-year-old Krieg was obviously head and shoulders better than the man he replaced. Although Krieg hasn't been a full-time starter since the 1992 season in Kansas City, he displayed the kind of poise that only comes with experience as he directed the Lions to a 23-point second-half comeback that fell just short on the final drive. Krieg was such a confident field general that when the Lions called timeout with 54 seconds remaining, he never went to the sideline for any input. His 273 passing yards in the second half, even if they did come against a lackadaisical Packer defense, are still a Detroit team record for a single half.
"The difference between the two quarterbacks was night and day," said Lion left tackle Lomas Brown after the game. "Dave's experience is the difference. He was directing us like an offensive coach on the field. You should've heard us in the huddle: 'Yeah, we can do this...we can come back.' If we hadn't made crucial mistakes in the first half [Mitchell threw two interceptions], we could have won this game."
It's an indictment of the Lion coaching staff that most of the Detroit players had no idea that Krieg was capable of such heroics. "That's the amazing thing," Brown says. "Dave gets two to five snaps with the first string in practice during the week. The rest of the time he's showing the defense the look of the other quarterback. We really didn't know he could do something like this. He just hasn't been given the opportunity."
Mitchell may be the quarterback of the future, but for now, the 4-5 Lions are probably better off with Krieg at the helm as they try to navigate their way to a playoff berth.
A Very Mild Curry