Eddie Drummond tried. Kick after kick, punt after punt, the Lions’ return specialist rambled through defenders Sunday at Ford Field, going outside, cutting inside, delivering 20, 30, 40 yards worth of real estate, handing Detroit terrific field position. Problem was, once he got tackled, he came off the field.

That left the rest of the Lions.

Not ready for Prime Time. Prime Time teams don’t take a breath after a good victory. Prime Time teams treat third downs like a holy grail. Prime Time teams beat opponents when they’re down. Oh. And Prime Time teams complete easy passes.

The Lions did none of that Sunday. On one of Joey Harrington’s lousiest afternoons, on one of the defense’s most lackluster efforts, the previously caffeine-buzz Lions played a tired old tune, watching Brett Favre and the Packers pick them apart.

This game was like a Cher song. You couldn’t tell if it was 2004, 1999 or 1983. The Lions blew third downs — on offense and defense. They couldn’t tackle. They couldn’t catch. And too often, they couldn’t throw.

“Other than that, we were all right,” coach Steve Mariucci cracked after the 38-10 shellacking.

We call that gallows humor.

Not ready for Prime Time. If things ever are going to change around here, Harrington will have to play more like the guy on the other team played Sunday. You know, the one who’s so old, his whiskers come in gray and his most common quote is about impending retirement?

Favre, who is dangling over the snapping jaws of a losing farewell season, still showed it’s not what you do but when you do it that means victory. When the Packers needed a first down, Favre found them one. When they got within sniffing distance of points, Favre led them home.

And when those flap cards on the sticks read “3” — as in third down — Favre kept his offense on the field.

The Lions? They had 11 chances to convert a third down. They did it once. Once?

Not ready.

He would have failed Quarterback 101

“I didn’t throw the ball accurately,” Harrington admitted.

Granted, he was without his best receiver, Roy Williams (in uniform but unable to play), and his running game was about as effective as liquid soap on dry paint.

Still, when Harrington had men open, he often couldn’t put it in their grasp. He threw high. He threw wide. This wasn’t PhD quarterback stuff. This was more like freshman orientation. Harrington, if he is smart, will try to forget Sunday as quickly as possible. Here is what he’ll have to erase from his memory banks:

+FIRST QUARTER: A nine-yard sack on his first pass play.

+SECOND QUARTER: A toss behind Artose Pinner that turned into a fumble. An overthrow of Az-Zahir Hakim that blew a first down. Another overthrow of Hakim that would have been big yardage.

+ THIRD QUARTER: An interception smack into the arms of Darren Sharper, who took it back for a touchdown. Two straight bad throws to Tai Streets on slant passes — third and fourth downs — with the second even worse than the first.

+FOURTH QUARTER: Boooooooo!

“Were you disappointed by the boos?” he was asked.

“I’ve learned after last week,” he said, “when the fans at Lambeau Field booed the greatest quarterback still working in the game — a guy who has delivered Super Bowls — that anybody can get booed.

“Does that mean I think it’s right? No. Can I change it? No.”

Well, that last part isn’t true. He can change it. We expect him to change it. It was the lack of change that drew the boos in the first place. The problem for Lions fans is simple: When the team plays great, it’s new. When the team plays poorly, it’s the same old thing.

What Green Bay did Sunday, it has done for years. The game was as fresh as mold.

Favre speaks up for his counterpart

Now, let’s be fair. Sunday’s loss wasn’t just the offense. The way Najeh Davenport ran through the Detroit line, you’d have thought his uniform was greased with Vaseline. The Lions not only surrendered 257 passing yards to Favre, they allowed Ahman Green to throw a touchdown pass. In case you’re not paying attention, he’s a running back.

Remember, the Packers were a paltry 1-4 coming into this game. But, as Mariucci said, “Things that have been biting them this season didn’t bite them today.”

Yeah. Like the opposing team.

The shame of this is that the Lions were on a nice roll, two road victories, a division lead. A victory would have made them 4-1, and a formidable entity in the playoff chase. Instead, at 3-2, with two tough road games coming up, they are, for now, another mediocre squad in a league full of them.

On the way up the tunnel Sunday, Favre found Harrington and offered a few words of encouragement.

“I thought the fans were hard on him,” Favre said later. “Knowing his character and his talent, he’ll be fine. And the Lions will be fine. They got a real good defense, and, at some point, it’ll all click.

“And like I told Joey, I hope I’m gone by the time that happens.”

Our luck, he’ll play another 10 years.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or albom@freepress.com”

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