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GAME IN REVIEW: Lions rise to the occasion with a pivotal division win over the Packers

Posted Nov 29, 2013

The Lions overcame early turnovers to dominate in a 40-10 win over the Packers on Thanksgiving Day

Things didn't start off so well for the Lions in an eventual 40-10 Thanksgiving Day win over the Packers.

Three of the Lions first four possessions ended in turnovers.

First it was a Reggie Bush fumble inside the 10-yard line on the Lions opening drive. The offense had been moving easily down the field when the turnover took the wind out of Detroit's sails.

A defensive stop capped off by a Ziggy Ansah sack and a David Akers' field goal cut the lead to four when Sam Martin's kickoff sailed out of bounds at the 2-yard line to give Green Bay the ball at the 40. The Packers quickly responded with a field goal to regain their seven-point lead.

"We had a couple things that didn't go our way," said quarterback Matthew Stafford after the game, "but our defense did a great job of keeping us in it and making plays for us."

Joique BellThe Lions finished Thursday's game with more than 200 yards rushing vs. the Packers for the first time since 1997. (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

Things continued to not go the Lions' way when Stafford was hit from his blind side by Packers linebacker Nick Perry and fumbled at the one-yard line. The ball was quickly scooped up by safety Morgan Burnett and run in for a touchdown.

With the Packers holding a 10-3 lead despite being dominated by the Lions on both sides of the ball, it appeared things couldn't get any worse for Detroit. That's when Stafford threw his first interception on a pass intended for wide receiver Kris Durham. Adding insult to injury, Durham was flagged for a personal foul on the play and the Packers suddenly had the ball at midfield.

"I don't know that there was ever really a turning-it-around moment," said head coach Jim Schwartz. "We just kept on playing."

Social media was filled with comments of "same old Lions" by both media and fans. It looked dire as the team appeared to be following the same path that had them entering the game minus-12 in the turnover ratio in their previous four games.

Then something shifted.

After a three-and-out by the defense following the interception, the offense finally found its groove with an eight-play, 85-yard drive capped off by a five-yard touchdown from Stafford to wide receiver Jeremy Ross.

The defense kept things rolling with yet another three-and-out and then Ross maintained momentum on a 35-yard punt return to the Green Bay 33.

"I was just trying to go out there and play," said Ross of competing against his former team. "It was good to be out there and play against ... the team that I got cut from."

It took Detroit just three plays to travel the 33 yards for another touchdown -- a one-yard run by Bush -- to regain the lead, 17-10. At that point, Bush had more than rebounded after his opening drive fumble with 119 yards of total offense and the touchdown.

"I was really down on myself and (was) really just disappointed in myself that I fumbled the ball again," said Bush after the game. "I leaned on my teammates. They kept believing in me. They gave me the ball the next drive, first play, so I think that spoke volumes about their belief and trust in me."

The remainder of the game was no contest. The defense did not allow another score and even put up points with a safety by Ndamukong Suh. Ultimately, Detroit posted 23 points in the second half to improve to 7-5 and take the outright lead in the NFC North.

"On the sideline, it's easy when you lose a couple of games in a row -- particularly in the fashion that we lost them -- for people to say, 'Here we go again,'" said Schwartz. "I'm sure there were some people that were saying that, but they weren't on our sideline."

MORE NOTES AND HEADLINES FROM THURSDAY'S WIN:

  • The Lions defense registered seven team sacks, including Suh's safety and one sack-fumble by rookie defensive end Devin Taylor, recovered by C.J. Mosley. The last time the Lions had seven sacks in a game was at Denver in 2011. The last time the Lions had seven sacks against the Packers was October 30, 1987.
  • Ansah recorded two sacks for the second straight game. He leads the team (and all NFL rookies) with 7.0 sacks on the season.
  • Linebacker DeAndre Levy's interception vs. Green Bay gives him an NFL-leading six on the year. He became the third Lions linebacker in team history to record six interceptions in a season and first since Hall of Fame linebacker Joe Schmidt in 1958. He joined Hall of Fame C-LB Alex Wojciechowicz (1944) and Schmidt as the only linebackers to record six picks in a season.
  • Center Dominic Raiola played in his 200th career game vs. Green Bay, becoming the third player in team history to do so.
  • Detroit gained 241 yards on the ground, which is the team’s highest rushing output since the Lions gained 249 yards vs. Indianapolis November 23, 1997.

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