MIKE O'HARA

O'Hara: A look back at the Lions' last win at Lambeau Field

Posted Oct 4, 2013

Detroitlions.com columnist Mike O'Hara takes a look at the Lions last win at Green Bay - December 15, 1991

Freezing temperatures and a biting north wind that sent the wind chill tumbling to 18 below zero created a wintry environment at Lambeau Field in Green Bay that never felt warmer for the Lions on a bitterly cold day in 1991.

They overcame the elements and the Packers in a 21-17 victory in what 22 years later stands out as a landmark moment in a series with the Packers that started in 1932.

The jubilant Lions celebrated at the final gun, hugging and dancing on Lambeau's legendary Frozen Tundra as though it were a polished dance floor.

For that Lions team on Dec. 15, 1991, there was no thought that the game would be remembered for anything other than what had been accomplished on the playing field that day.

What was important was that they made their record 11-4 and clinched a berth in the NFC playoffs. The fact that it was a road game was incidental.

"That wasn't the thing," said Charlie Sanders, the Lions' Hall of Fame tight end who coached wide receivers on the 1991 team and currently works in the team's player personnel department.

"We used to go to Lambeau and beat them. The one factor was the snow and how cold it was. it was brutal.

"Just from the bus to the locker room, it was brutal. I remember guys making a pact, 'Don't run out of bounds. Keep the clock moving.'"

The week after winning in Green Bay, the Lions went to Buffalo and beat the Bills in overtime to clinch first place in the old NFC Central. That gave the Lions a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs. They beat the Cowboys at the Pontiac Silverdome before losing at Washington in the NFC Championship.

As the Lions go to Green Bay to play the Packers at Lambeau on Sunday, a look back in history – a long look back, at that – makes it unthinkable that the Lions have lost 22 straight road games to the Packers since their '91 victory.

In 12 seasons, from 1980-91, the Lions were by far the dominant team in their series with the Packers. They had a 16-8 won-lost record overall, with an even split of 8-4 home and away.

All of that changed in 1992, with Brett Favre's arrival in a trade with Atlanta. The Packers, who'd had only five winning records in 24 years since the 1967 team won the Super Bowl, became a dominant team again and continued it when Aaron Rodgers succeeded him in 2008.

The Lions were resourceful in the 1991 victory at Lambeau. The Packers had a 367-209 advantage in yards gained and sacked Lions quarterback Erik Kramer four times. The Lions' rush never got to the Packers' Mike Tomczak.

The Lions' touchdowns came on Kramer's two TD passes to Robert Clark, and Mel Gray's 78-yard punt return. Green Bay got a field goal from Chris Jacke and two TDs from Vince Workman, on a run and pass reception.

The Lions acted more like high school kids who'd won the homecoming game than seasoned pros in their lost-game celebration.

The late Joe Diroff, nicknamed "The Brow," was the unofficial cheerleader for all of Detroit's sports teams. He had driven to the game, and was welcomed into the locker room by Coach Wayne Fontes and the players.

It was a memorable scene, with "The Brow" leading cheers for grown men who unabashedly laughed and yelled at the top of their lungs.

It was a warm moment for a game frozen in time.