FOUR DOWNS: Talk is cheap; atonement; run defense and unlikely contributions

Posted Nov 28, 2013

Tim Twentyman takes a look at four keys from Detroit's 40-10 Thanksgiving Day win over Green Bay



The Detroit Lions defensive line decided to come out of the tunnel during the starters pre-game introductions as one collective unit Thursday afternoon.

"It was just that time," defensive tackle C.J. Mosley said of the move. "It represented that we play together. Come out together, play together."

It was a "show of unity" as Ndamukong Suh called it, in the face of public comments made by Packers guard Josh Sitton calling the unit "scumbags" and other things in a radio interview this week.

The most important thing the Lions proved on Thanksgiving is talk in cheap and actions speak louder than words.

The Lions defensive line completely dominated the Packers offensive line, Sitton included, in a 40-10 victory at Ford Field.

The team’s seven sacks are the most since 2011 (Denver) and the defensive line led the way with five.

"We made fun of (Sitton’s comments) a little bit in a team meeting," head coach Jim Schwartz said. "(The game) wasn’t going to be won by talk and our team was the team that played well. Actions speak louder than words."

Ziggy Ansah (2), Devin Taylor (2) and Suh all got to Packers quarterback Matt Flynn. Suh’s sack was good for a safety late in the third quarter.

The minus-37 sacks yards for the Lions were more than the 24 rushing yards the Packers had all game.

"We just go out there and play," Suh said after the game. "It really doesn’t mean anything to our defensive line, let alone the rest of our team and coaches."

Besides the seven sacks, the defense had nine quarterback hits (seven for the defensive line) and six tackles-for-loss.

When the defensive line plays as motivated and together as they did Thursday, the Lions are hard to beat.



It was the worst-case scenario for running back Reggie Bush.

The Lions were driving inside the Packers 10-yard line on the opening possession of the game when Bush fumbled the football away to the Packers. It was Bush’s third fumble in the last four games and came just days after he told the media he wouldn’t fumble again this season.

After the play, Bush walked backed to the sideline with his head down and found a spot on the bench. Receiver Calvin Johnson tapped him on the helmet and fellow running back Mikel Leshoure came over and said a few words to him.

"I was really down on myself and really just disappointed that I fumbled the ball again," Bush said. "It’s something that I have to clean up."

After forcing a Packers punt following the fumble, the Lions ran the very next play to Bush. It was a 5-yard run off the left end. He ripped off another 13 yards up the middle on the next play and didn’t stop running for 11 more possessions.

"We took a Twitter poll to find out if we should give him the ball (after the fumble) and the Twitter audience said to stick with him, so we did," Schwartz said in jest after the game.

"A lot of people made fun of me a couple weeks ago for saying that we won’t play scared and we don’t coach scared. I think that’s another sign of that. We weren’t scared to give him the ball."

Bush finished with 117 rushing yards and 65 more yards receiving when it was all said and done. He and fellow running back Joique Bell (128 total yards) were named the players of the game.

Bush said he ran a little harder and a little faster after the first possession trying to atone for the fumble.

He's right, though, it is something he has to clean up moving forward.



We noted above how dominant the performance was by the defensive line getting after Flynn, but what the entire defense did to thwart the Packers rushing attack might have been even more impressive.

The Packers averaged just 1.6 yards per carry for a total of 24 yards in the game.

Let’s not forget that Packers running back Eddie Lacy had 99 rushing yards against the Lions in their Week 5 win at Lambeau and Lacy came into the game leading the NFL with 755 rushing yards since Oct. 1.  The rookie had just 16 on 10 carries.

It marked the sixth game in a row the Lions have held an opponent under 62 yards rushing. They haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown in eight games, the first time they’ve accomplished that feat since 1934.

"We just understood the task that we had at hand," Suh said. "First is obviously stopping the run and stopping Eddie Lacy, he’s been playing great for them.

"(It was) very important to get that done and then obviously we did that for the most part. (We got) after their quarterback. He liked to hold the ball and we saw that and I believe we took advantage of it."



The Packers released Jeremy Ross on Sept. 23 after he fumbled in an early-season loss to Cincinnati.

Jeremy RossWR Jeremy Ross (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

The Lions signed him to their practice squad a few weeks later and to the active roster Oct. 19.

One team’s loss was another’s gain in this one.

Ross recorded the first touchdown of his career in the second quarter on a 5-yard pass from Matthew Stafford that tied the score at 10-10. He also had a 24-yard run on a reverse, a 35-yard punt return and a 60-yard punt return in the fourth quarter called back on a hold away from the play.

"It was good to be out there and play against my former team," Ross said. "The team that I got cut from."

The Lions also got a huge 26-yard catch from tight end Dorin Dickerson on third-and-1 a couple plays before the Ross touchdown.

Dickerson signed with the Lions just last week.

Sometimes it takes key contributions from unlikely sources to help spearhead a win like this.