Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings watches an Aaron Rodgers pass bounce off him. The ball was intercepted by Detroit Lions cornerback Amari Spievey (42) in the first quarter of their game in Detroit on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2010. Paul Sancya/AP
DETROIT – In a locker-room interview last week, Greg Jennings wanted no part of a question about why he and the rest of the Green Bay Packers’ receivers had overcome their early-season penchant for dropping balls.
He feared a jinx.
On Sunday after the Packers’ 7-3 loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field, where Jennings’ dropped a perfectly thrown deep ball from Aaron Rodgers that popped into the hands of Detroit safety Amari Spievey for an interception, Jennings looked the questioner in the eye said: “See, see, see, see.”
The play had touchdown written all over it. On second-and-3 from his own 27-yard line in the first quarter, Rodgers used a play-fake to momentarily freeze Spievey, the Lions’ rookie. Jennings had a step on him down the field and Rodgers unloaded. Jennings reached up with two hands, but the ball slipped through and appeared to hit him in the helmet, ricocheting back to Spievey.
Jennings made no excuses.
“Dropped it; straight dropped it,” Jennings said. “Disappointing, very disappointing.”
The drop by Jennings, who had four catches for 52 yards and snapped a streak of three straight 100-plus-yard games, led to the Packers’ second turnover of the first quarter. On their opening drive, rookie tight end Andrew Quarless lost a fumble as he was trying to gain extra yards after a 12-yard catch that would have given the packers a first down at the Lions’ 35.
“We had a major letdown on the offensive side of the ball,” Jennings said. “Defense kept us in the game the entire game. We can’t come out and get put in positions where we’ve got to crawl back into the game.”
“Not the homecoming you want, but it’s not about me,” added Jennings, a Kalamazoo, Mich. native. “Got to make plays when the ball’s in the air, period. I’ve been making plays, and that’s what we do, but didn’t do it (on Sunday), and I let the team down with a big drop in the first quarter. Obviously a momentum changer, and you can’t have that when you’re a playoff-caliber team, when you’re trying to reach the playoffs, and you’ve got bigger goals.”
Changing of the guard
When starting left guard Daryn Colledge left the game because of a knee injury in the first quarter, the Packers turned first to Jason Spitz.
But that didn’t last long. Unhappy with Spitz’s performance, the Packers pulled him in favor of T.J. Lang, who played the entire second half.
Spitz said he didn’t want to talk about his performance other than to answer “No” when asked whether he thought he played OK.
Spitz appeared to be at least partially responsible for the 5-yard loss by running back Brandon Jackson on a first-quarter run that Lions rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh blew up.
“Performance, clearly performance,” coach Mike McCarthy said when asked why he replaced Spitz with Lang.
Colledge played only one series because he injured his left knee while tackling Lions cornerback Brandon McDonald, who recovered Quarless’ fumble. Colledge was scheduled to undergo additional tests today.
“Either I planted wrong or hit wrong or whatever,” Colledge said. “I’m not used to making tackles, so yeah, I hurt myself on the tackle.”
McCarthy said he didn’t know the severity of the injury.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s going to be terrible,” Colledge said. “But it doesn’t feel too good right now.”
The Packers’ already thin outside linebacker crew was hit again.
Rookie Frank Zombo, who has started the last six games, left the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury and did not return. Erik Walden, who was signed off the street on Oct. 27, finished the game but did not record a tackle.
Other than Colledge and quarterback Aaron Rodgers (concussion), that was the only other injury McCarthy mentioned.
Jennings wanted McCarthy to challenge the pass that was ruled incomplete in the end zone on a third-and-3 play from the Lions’ 24-yard line in the third quarter, but McCarthy didn’t throw the red flag.
Instead, he sent in the field-goal unit, and Mason Crosby gave the Packers their only points with a 42-yard kick.
“We had a look at it up in the booth, and the information that I had led me not to challenge that call,” McCarthy said.
A week after rookie running back James Starks carried 18 times for 73 yards in his NFL debut against San Francisco, he rushed only six times for 8 yards against the Lions.
He had one pass thrown his way, but he mistimed a screen pass and couldn’t come up with it.
Brandon Jackson got the most work among the running backs with seven carries for 19 yards. Dimitri Nance, who was inactive last week, carried twice for 4 yards. The quarterbacks combined 35 yards rushing on five carries.
Odds and ends
The Packers inactives were safety Atari Bigby, cornerback Pat Lee, safety Anthony Smith, fullback Korey Hall, linebacker Matt Wilhelm, center/guard Nick McDonald, guard/tackle Marshall Newhouse and defensive end Cullen Jenkins. … On the food cart outside the Packers’ locker room after the game, written on the side was “Packards locker room food.”