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(Thursday, November 25th)
Final Score: New England 45, Detroit 24
Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - Deion Branch and Wes Welker each caught a pair of touchdown passes from Tom Brady, who recorded a perfect quarterback rating, as the New England Patriots used a huge second half to take down the Detroit Lions, 45-24, on Thanksgiving at Ford Field.
Brady completed 21-of-27 passes for 341 yards and four touchdowns for the Patriots (9-2), who handed the Lions their seventh straight loss on Thanksgiving.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis carried the ball 12 times for 59 yards and two scores for New England, which has won three in a row since a loss to the Browns on November 7.
Branch caught three passes for 113 yards, while Welker hauled in eight passes for 90 yards for the victors.
"As far as today goes, it was a real good effort in the second half," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "In the end it was a lot of guys stepping up and making plays."
Shaun Hill connected on 27-of-46 passes for 285 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions for Detroit (2-9), which hasn't won on Turkey Day since a 22-14 victory over the Packers in 2003. The Lions have been outscored by a whopping 258-98 margin during their Thanksgiving losing streak.
Maurice Morris rushed for 55 yards and two scores on nine carries, while Calvin Johnson caught four passes for 81 yards and a touchdown in defeat.
"We played poor on defense to give up all those long plays," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said. "Dropping coverage and man-to-man is not the way to play against a team that has a lot of firepower."
Trailing by seven, 24-17, late in the third quarter, New England ripped off 28 unanswered points. Brady got things going with a 79-yard bomb to Branch down the left sideline with 5:12 left.
Dave Rayner then missed a 46-yard field goal for the Lions. The Patriots needed five plays this time around to find the end zone. Rob Gronkowski hauled in a 26-yard pass to set up the visitors at the 30-yard line. Welker caught an 11-yard pass before Branch hauled in a 22-yard TD pass for a 31-24 lead with 13:45 remaining in the fourth.
A costly penalty on the ensuing Detroit possession proved to be the death of the Lions. Faced with a 3rd-and-5, Hill threw a 21-yard pass to Brandon Pettigrew for a fresh set of downs. The play was called back due to pass interference on Pettigrew. The home team was forced to punt the ball back to a hot New England offense.
Brady orchestrated a seven-play, 84-yard drive this time. Welker ended the march with a 16-yard touchdown catch to make it a 38-24 contest with 6:42 left.
Devin McCourty then intercepted Hill for the second time in the contest. His 50-yard return put the ball at the 12-yard line. Green-Ellis rumbled into the end zone from one yard out just four plays later to account for the final margin.
Shayne Graham capped an eight-play, 41-yard drive with a 19-yard field goal to give New England a 3-0 lead with five minutes to play in the first quarter.
Detroit responded with a touchdown on the final play of the first stanza to take the lead. Hill carried the ball twice for 21 yards to get the Lions to the 19-yard line. From there, Hill connected with Johnson near the right pylon to finish off an 11-play, 71-yard drive.
The Lions' next possession also resulted in a touchdown. Faced with a 3rd- and-8 from the New England nine, Hill threw a pass to Derrick Williams along the left sideline. The ball was inches short of a first down. The offense stayed on the field for fourth down and Hill gained a fresh set of downs with a quarterback sneak. Morris then plunged into the end zone from one yard out to make it 14-3 with 5:58 left until half.
Brady and the Patriots fought right back with a touchdown of their own. Aaron Hernandez made an 18-yard catch to highlight a 10-play, 83-yard march, which Green-Ellis capped with a 15-yard score to cut the gap to 14-10 with 45 seconds remaining.
Nate Burleson's 20-yard catch led to Rayner's 44-yard field goal for a 17-10 Lions' lead at the break.
On Detroit's first possession of the second half, Hill was picked off by McCourty, who returned the football 23 yards to the 26-yard line of the Lions. Brady and Welker hooked up for a five-yard score just four plays later to make it 17-17.
Stefan Logan returned the ensuing kickoff 41 yards to give the Lions great field position. Pettigrew caught a 24-yard pass on third down to give Detroit a fresh set of downs. Later in the drive, Johnson caught a 21-yard pass along the left sideline. Morris capped the nine-play drive with a one-yard TD run for a 24-17 edge with 6:50 to go.
Detroit hosted New England for the third time on Thanksgiving. The Patriots lead the all-time series with the Lions, 6-4...The Lions were without starting quarterback Matt Stafford for a third straight week as the 2009 No. 1 overall draft choice continues to recover from a serious shoulder injury...Pettigrew caught five passes for 67 yards...Brady, who was listed on the injury report as questionable, played through foot and shoulder injuries...Gronkowski caught five passes for 65 yards for the Patriots, who had 447 yards of total offense.
11/25 17:52:09 ET