By Ashley Scoby
Golden Tate, for one moment on Thursday, looked like his job was not as an NFL wide receiver.READ MORE: Michigan Matters: Pistons’ Rob Murphy on Helping His Hometown
With the score tied between his Lions and the visiting Eagles, and a Matthew Stafford pass in his hand, Tate – if not for the football pads – looked like he could have been walking down Brush Street for a cup of coffee.
He had just snagged Stafford’s dart near the goal line, and saw Philadelphia’s Malcolm Jenkins in pursuit. Tate pulled up like a horse jockey, paused for a split second and strolled into the end zone effortlessly, arms swinging and nose up.
“I told G, ‘Man, swag on them a little bit,’” fellow receiver Calvin Johnson said. “’They can’t touch you.’”
Johnson could have said the same about himself, or really his entire team Thursday, after Detroit handed the Eagles a Thanksgiving shellacking, 45-14. The Lions moved to 4-7 on the season and are now in the midst of a three-game winning streak that they’ve said all along was coming.
After a certain point – perhaps when Ezekiel Ansah got his hands on Mark Sanchez for the fourth time, or after Johnson’s third straight touchdown – the final score was little more than a formality. The second half was more about a flood of inflated Lions numbers, combined with “fire Chip Kelly” social media drama. In the midst of a season where plenty had Detroit dead in the water, it was the Lions making another team quit.
The Lions punted the first time they touched the ball, then went six straight possessions with a score (five touchdowns – all Stafford passes – and one field goal). It was hard to believe this game had actually been tied 7-7 late in the first quarter after Sanchez tossed a touchdown to tight end Brent Celek.
That burst of offense was an exception, though, for an Eagles team inept in every way. Ansah ripped through offensive linemen like Christmas packages, setting his single-game career-high for sacks (3.5) and adding a forced and recovered fumble. The Lions’ defensive end is tied with JJ Watt for the most sacks in the NFL this season (11.5).READ MORE: Ribs RnB Music Festival Kicks Off This Weekend In Downtown Detroit
“It feels great,” Ansah said. “This is something I’ve been working for for three years and I had a little emotional moment with my coach (defensive line coach Kris Kocurek) on the sideline. … He was proud of me.”
Ansah was just one part of a Lions defense that held the Eagles to a puny 68 rushing yards and 22:49 time of possession. Philadelphia had a 100-percent scoring rate in the red zone (getting there only once can help that kind of average). They finished with 227 total offensive yards, 14 first downs and a garbage-time touchdown with 2:56 remaining to make the score closer than it actually was.
Detroit’s offense, which has looked more in-sync since Jim Bob Cooter took over as offensive coordinator, ran (and passed) amok.
The Eagles couldn’t figure out what to do with Theo Riddick, who caught Stafford’s first touchdown pass of the day (and finished with five receptions for 62 yards). Tate was next, making his violent cut to the end zone midway through the second quarter.
Then from the end of the second quarter until midway through the third, it was a vintage Megatron show. Johnson brought in three straight scores, all in the corners of the end zone, tying his career-high for touchdowns in a game. He’s now tallied 11 touchdown catches in Thanksgiving Day games, an NFL record.
“Thanksgiving is just his day,” tight end Eric Ebron said. “They should just call it happy Calvin Johnson-iving.”
With those five tosses to the end zone, Stafford tied his own career-high and set the franchise record for touchdown passes in a Thanksgiving Day game.
For a team that started the season 1-7 and fired five people within the last month, the Lions needed to walk over someone in embarrassing fashion. Tate may have done so literally, but the rest of the team followed suit.MORE NEWS: Judge Says Michigan Gov. Whitmer Won't Have To Testify In Abortion Lawsuit
“This is an unusual day,” Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said. “This is not a typical day. Most games in this league are decided by a touchdown or less, and that’s the norm. So this is not a typical day in that regard, but when you do have a day like this, you certainly feel good about it.”