By Chris Morgan
Early on, it was looking like it was going to be another disastrous game for the Lions. On Sunday, a bunch of major errors cost the team against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Thursday, in their annual Thanksgiving game, the Lions had the chance to make amends against the Green Bay Packers. The first half was full of mistakes and dumb plays, and Detroit was only up 17-10. However, by the game’s end, it was a rout, and the Lions won their first Thanksgiving game in a decade by the whopping score of 40-10. Here is how the team performed on the field.
Quarterback: It was another game of ups-and-downs for Matthew Stafford. Last week, while he threw for three touchdowns, he also threw four interceptions, although they weren’t all his fault. It was similar against Green Bay. Stafford went 22-for-35 for 330 yards and three touchdowns, but he also threw two more interceptions. Additionally, Stafford fumbled on a sack, a fumble that was returned for a touchdown by the Packers. However, that was not entirely his fault, as the offensive line probably deserves just as much blame.
While Stafford had better numbers than last week, they still were not good. The turnovers are very concerning. You can’t be throwing a pick for every touchdown you throw. He still has a big arm and makes great plays many quarterbacks can’t, but this was merely a decent performance because of the mistakes. Grade: B-
Offense: Yes, the Lions scored 40 points, 38 on offense. You can’t argue with that too much, even though the Packers have had some struggles on defense recently. Stafford’s game was already accounted for. On the first drive of the game, the Lions came close to scoring, but Reggie Bush lost a fumble in the red zone. On their next drive, Detroit had to settle for a field goal in the red zone. However, the game eventually turned around, obviously.
Detroit had a huge game on the ground. The Lions rushed for 241 yards in the game. Bush had 20 carries for 117 yards and a touchdown, and he added five catches for 65 yards. Joique Bell had 19 carries for 94 yards and a score, and he had three receptions for 34 yards. Calvin Johnson had six catches for 101 yards. They only let up one sack, but it was a big one. Once again, turnovers were a concern, but all the scoring and all the offensive yards were still indicative of a good performance overall. Grade: B
Special Teams: David Akers missed a 31-yard field goal right before the half. Sam Martin put two kickoffs out of bounds. If not for Jeremy Ross having a nice day returning the ball, this would have been a terrible grade for special teams. Ross is the first guy for Detroit that can actually do something returning the ball since, arguably, Desmond Howard. Martin only had to punt once due to Detroit’s strong offensive play. Grade: C-
Defense: This is the one area of the game where one cannot quibble with Detroit’s performance. The defense only let up three points, as Green Bay’s only touchdown came on defense, and that field goal was after one of Martin’s kicks out of bounds. Sure, Matt Flynn is no Aaron Rodgers, but the Lions gave him no chance. The Packers had 126 yards of offense in total. Flynn was sacked seven times, twice by Ziggy Ansah and Devin Taylor. The Lions caused two fumbles, both of which they recovered. Ndamukong Suh picked up a safety. DeAndre Levy had another interception. It was a truly great defensive performance. Grade: A
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Chris Morgan has been a diehard Detroit Lions fan through the good (Barry Sanders) and the bad (Matt Millen) and that love has led him to take jobs writing about sports, including as a fantasy sports “expert.” His work can be found on Examiner.com. .