Pro Bowl halfback Dorsey Levens returned to the Green Bay Packers' lineup Sunday after a 10-week absence, but it was his teammates who were ragged and rusty.
The heavily-favored Packers needed career days from running back Darick Holmes and wideout Bill Schroeder to slip past the Philadelphia Eagles 24-16.
Holmes rushed for a career-best 163 yards on 26 carries and Schroeder caught five passes for a career-high 128 yards in his first NFL start as the Packers (8-4) held off the Eagles (2-10).
The Packers got Levens and wide receiver Derrick Mayes back, but lost Antonio Freeman (fractured jaw), the NFL's leader in receiving yards, and Pro Bowl tight end Mark Chmura (ankle) with injuries in the second half. Coach Mike Holmgren said he didn't know if either would be available for next week's Monday Night showdown at Tampa Bay.
"I'm talking now," Freeman said. "That's encouraging."
Green Bay, an 18-point favorite, trailed 13-10 in the third quarter after third-string quarterback Koy Detmer, making his first NFL start, guided the Eagles on two long scoring drives that he capped with TD tosses of 16 and 4 yards to Jeff Graham.
Detmer, who started in place of injured Bobby Hoying, turned and taunted the Packers after his second TD, infuriating his coach.
"I was going ballistic on the sideline because you don't do that," Ray Rhodes said. "Don't get the all riled up."
| Koy Detmer gave Brett Favre and the Packers just the incentive they needed to get past the Eagles. (AP) |
It was just the spark the listless Packers needed.
"One play doesn't make you a superstar in this league," said Freeman, who responded by taking a short pass from Brett Favre and juking cornerbacks Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent for a 33-yard touchdown that made it 17-13 and gave Favre the opportunity to return the taunts.
"I was in their home turf and acting kind of like an idiot," said Detmer, the younger brother of Favre's former backup, Ty. "And I'm sure (Favre) got fired up about that."
Two series later, safety Michael Zordich's vicious hit on Freeman fractured his jaw.
Tim McTyer's first career interception -- the second of the day for the Eagles, who had just four all season -- set up Chris Boniol's 34-yard field goal that pulled Philadelphia to 17-16 with 8:41 left.
But William Henderson's second TD run, a 2-yarder with three minutes left, put the game away.
"We played well enough when we had to," defensive end Reggie White said.
Levens, who broke his right leg and severely sprained his right ankle on Sept. 13 against Tampa Bay, returned to practice just this week. He gained 6 yards on six carries and had 21 yards wiped out on two holding penalties.
When Ryan Longwell finally gave Green Bay a 3-0 lead six minutes into the second quarter, the Packers had outgained Philadelphia 159 yards to 15. Schroeder, starting for injured Robert Brooks, had a 46-yard gain on a third-and-9 play.
"We're calling his number a little bit more," Favre said. "The confidence that I have in him is as good as it is with any other receiver."
But Schroeder and Holmes couldn't put away the Eagles.
"We had an outstanding first quarter, but it was still 0-0 and whenever you can let a team hang around like that, they get more confident as the game goes on," Packers right guard Adam Timmerman said.
The Packers made it 10-0 on Henderson's 1-yard TD grab when he worked free in the end zone thanks to the presence of Levens in the backfield.
The Eagles had scored just 7 points in the third quarter all season, but Detmer drove them 79 yards in 11 plays to start the second half and hit Graham for a touchdown and 13-10 lead.
"I knew they would come in here figuring they could salvage their season by beating the Green Bay Packers," Freeman said.
Terrell said the Pack wasn't taken aback by the close game.
"We're not going to let how we won distract us from enjoying this win," Terrell said. "You can look at Philadelphia's record and say this should have been a blowout o they should have beaten them by so many points."
"I tell you what," White said, "If fans look at it that way, then they need to come work out with us during the week. A win is a win. We won the game."
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