Lions take apart Packers, end Turkey Day skid
Detroit, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Lions used a stifling defense to overcome four turnovers and post a win on Thanksgiving for the first time in 10 years, a 40-10 victory over the Green Bay Packers in an NFC North battle.
In addition to posting seven sacks, a safety, an interception and two fumble recoveries, the Lions (7-5) limited the Packers to just 126 total yards and no offensive touchdowns, as the only time Green Bay found the end zone was on a fumble recovery that was taken in for a score.
It was the first time Detroit posted a win in its annual Thanksgiving game since 2003, when the team beat a Brett Favre-led Packers, 22-14.
The Lions prevailed despite Matthew Stafford continuing his recent troubles with turning over the ball. Last week against Tampa Bay, the quarterback threw four interceptions and was picked off twice in this game, in addition to losing a fumble that led to the Packers' touchdown.
However, Stafford did wind up throwing for 330 yards and three scores on 22- of-35 passing, with Calvin Johnson catching six balls for 101 yards and a score for Detroit, which now sits atop the NFC North with a half-game lead on Chicago, which plays in Minnesota on Sunday.
Reggie Bush fumbled in the red zone on Detroit's first possession of the game, but made up for the mistake by finding the end zone once and totaling 182 yards from scrimmage. He finished with 20 carries for 117 yards and five catches for 65 yards to help his team break a two-game skid.
"We had a couple things that didn't go our way, but our defense did a great job of keeping us in it and making plays for us," Stafford said. "When our defense plays like that and we can run the football like that, we're pretty tough to beat."
Green Bay, on the other hand, has continued to struggle without Aaron Rodgers, as the team was coming off a tie to Minnesota that was preceded by three straight losses.
However, the Packers (5-6-1) might have Rodgers back in time for its next game, at home against Atlanta on Dec. 8, as he took the practice field this week for the first time since fracturing his left collarbone against Chicago on Nov. 4.
Matt Flynn, the third quarterback to start under center for Green Bay since Rodgers' injury, was ineffective all day, as was the rest of the offense. Flynn went just 10-for-20 for 139 yards with an interception and two lost fumbles, while Eddie Lacy was held to just 16 yards on 10 carries.
"It's just tough when you can't get in a rhythm," Flynn said of his struggles under center. "We kept stalling out and when you're not making first downs it's just hard to get things going."
Green Bay started the second half with the ball trailing by seven, but its offensive problems continued as the team went three-and-out and punted back to Detroit.
Starting at the 37, Stafford converted a third down with a 19-yard strike to Johnson, and the two hooked up on another third down for 12 yards to the Green Bay 20. On another third down, Stafford went to Johnson again and he caught it over the middle, taking the ball in for a 20-yard score and a 24-10 lead.
Flynn had the ball knocked out of his hands by Devin Taylor, with C.J. Mosley recovering at the Green Bay 37. Stafford, though, went deep for Johnson and had his pass picked off by Sam Shields in the end zone.
The Packers finally put together a bit of a drive, as the team crossed midfield thanks to a couple of first downs, but Flynn was picked off by DeAndre Levy to give the Lions the ball back at their own 35.
Pinning the Packers at their own 5, the Lions were able to add two points to their lead as Ndamukong Suh sacked Flynn in the end zone for a 26-10 lead with 53 seconds left in the third.
Detroit got the ball back on the free kick at its own 42, with Stafford's 36- yard pass to Kris Durham helping set up Joique Bell's 1-yard score for a 33-10 lead two minutes into the quarter.
Later in the fourth, Stafford tossed a pass into the right side of the end zone where Kevin Ogletree made a one-handed grab for a 20-yard score and a 40-10 advantage with 4:17 to play to cap the scoring.
Detroit opened the game with an impressive drive, using a nice mix of pass and run to get into the red zone. On 1st-and-10 at the 12, though, Bush took a handoff and had the ball knocked out of his hands by Clay Matthews, with Morgan Burnett picking up the loose ball.
After holding the Packers and getting the ball back at their own 11, the Lions again turned to Bush, as he ran 13 yards on first down, then later caught a pass for nine yards. Another 12-yard run from Bush was followed by a 27-yard screen catch from Bell to get the ball down to the Green Bay 7. The drive stalled there, though, and a 27-yard field goal from David Akers on the second play of the second quarter gave Detroit a 3-0 lead.
Sam Martin booted the kickoff out of bounds, giving the Packers excellent field position. A 16-yard catch from James Jones on the first play moved the ball across midfield, and the team managed eight more yards before Mason Crosby connected from 54 yards out to tie the game with 12:41 left in the half.
The game didn't stay tied for long, though, as Nick Perry knocked the ball out of Stafford's hands on the first snap, with Burnett recovering his second fumble and taking it in for a score and a 10-3 lead.
The turnovers continued for Detroit, as Stafford dropped back for a pass and went to his left for Durham, but Tramon Williams came up with the leaping pick. Detroit's defense continued to stymie the Packers, and the team got the ball back at its own 15 after a punt.
Quickly facing a 3rd-and-4, Stafford went deep down the left sideline where Bush made the over-the-shoulder catch for 32 yards. A 26-yard catch from Dorin Dickerson set up a 5-yard scoring toss to Jeremy Ross to tie the game with 4:33 to play in the half.
A quick three-and-out from the Packers saw yet another punt, and Ross returned this one 35 yards down the right sideline to the Green Bay 33. Bush atoned for his earlier error, as his first carry went for four yards, his second for 23 down to the 1, and his third untouched into the end zone from a yard out to give the Lions a 17-10 lead with 1:22 left in the half.
Green Bay's struggles continued with another three-and-out and the Lions got into scoring position thanks to a 16-yard catch from Johnson and an 18-yard grab from Durham. The last play of the half saw Akers try for a 31-yard field goal, but he kicked it wide right and it was a seven-point game at the break.
The Lions totaled 561 yards and controlled the ball for nearly 40 1/2 minutes ... Detroit next plays in Philadelphia on Dec. 8 ... Detroit cornerback Chris Houston was out with a foot injury ... Green Bay's 43 yards in the first half was its fewest since Nov. 6, 2000 against Minnesota ... It was Stafford's first win against Green Bay in seven tries ... Detroit defensive end Ziggy Ansah had two sacks, and leads all rookies with seven on the season ... Nine different receivers caught the ball for Detroit.
11/28 19:27:04 ET