It didn't take Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson long to make his mark in the NFL.
Woodson's ferocious first-quarter hit on Antonio Freeman forced a turnover that ignited the Oakland Raiders to a 27-21 victory over the bumbling Green Bay Packers on Sunday.It was the Packers' first loss at Lambeau Field since Sept. 17, 1995, a span of 33 games, including five exhibitions.
Raiders coach Jon Gruden, returning to the city where he began his NFL coaching career as an assistant on Mike Holmgren's staff in 1992, gave Woodson the start at left cornerback so that he could be tested by quarterback Brett Favre and receivers Freeman and Derrick Mayes.
He passed with flying colors.
On Favre's first pass in his direction, Woodson hammered Freeman just as the ball arrived and free safety Eric Turner grabbed the ricochet and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.
It was one of three turnovers the Raiders (2-0) turned into 17 first-half points on their way to an insurmountable 24-7 halftime lead before a stunned and silent crowd of 60,078.
Favre only threw Woodson's way once more and the ball bounced off Freeman's chest. Favre finished 3-of-8 for 53 yards, but things quickly deteriorated for Green Bay (2-1) when the three-time MVP finished his work.
Backup Doug Pederson promptly fumbled two of center Frank Winters' first three snaps, and Oakland turned those gifts into 10 more points and a 17-0 lead.
Linebacker Mike Morton recovered the first fumbled exchange at the Packers 20, and two plays later, tight end Rickey Dudley hauled in Donald Hollis' pass at the 10 despite being held by linebacker Bernardo Harris and bullied his way into the end zone for a 17-yard TD and a 14-0 lead.
Raiders strong safety Calvin Branch recovered Pederson's next blunder at the Packers 42 and Greg Davis followed with a 54-yard field goal to make it 17-0 as Pederson and Winters practiced snaps on the sideline.
The Packers finally caught a break when free safety Mike Prior, subbing for Darren Sharper (thigh), picked off Hollas at midfield and Pederson hooked up with Derrick Mayes on a 14-yard TD pass to make it 17-7.
Oakland quickly retaliated, however.
After LeRoy Butler sacked Hollas at the Green Bay 43 with a minute left in the first half, Hollas hit Rodney Williams for 18 yards on third-and-14, then picked on converted cornerback Chris Darkins for a 25-yard TD to Williams with 22 seconds left for a 24-7 lead.
Hollas completed 15-of-23 passes for 162 yards and two TDs after starter Jeff George went 7-for-16 for 45 yards.
Pederson's 17-yard TD toss to Roell Preston in the third quarter made it 24-14.
After Davis' 30-yarder, David Klingler hit Corey Bradford with a 5-yard TD pass with 54 seconds left. But the Packers' hopes died when Conway's onside kick went out of bounds.