Falcons 27, Lions 7
“It’s always nice when you get an opportunity in the fourth quarter to sit down, enjoy the moment and the victory,” Vick said.
While he was chilling and Detroit fans were leaving, Falcons coach Jim Mora was probably the only one nervous about replacing his exciting quarterback with Matt Schaub early in the fourth quarter.
“When you’ve lost two in a row, it’s hard to feel you’ve got one in the bag,” Mora said. “Until the very end, I was on pins and needles not having Mike in there.”
Atlanta (7-4) took advantage of playing the lowly Lions (4-7), closing the gap behind NFC South co-leaders Carolina and Tampa Bay to a half-game after losing two straight at home.
“Our division is probably one of the toughest in the league, so we have a long way to go before we even think about the playoffs,” Dunn said.
The Falcons improved to 4-1 away from home.
“We’re road warriors,” Crumpler said.
The only positive for Detroit was this: The result of its annual Thanksgiving game wasn’t as bad as last year, when Indianapolis beat the Lions 41-9, handing them their most lopsided loss on the holiday.
Like last season’s matchup, however, the visitors were ahead by so much in the fourth quarter they rested their star quarterback.
“It was ugly and it was embarrassing,” said Joey Harrington, one of three QBs Detroit used.
Vick was 12-for-22 for 146 yards with two TDs and an interception. Crumpler tied career highs with seven receptions and two TDs, and had 104 yards receiving.
“Eighty percent of the time, Alge’s open,” Vick said. “He knows how to create space for himself and he’s always there. He’s my guy.”
Dunn went over the 100-yard mark on just 17 carries, thanks in part to some huge holes opened up by the offensive line, and topped 1,000 yards for the second straight season.
“Today was just a total team win,” Crumpler said. “Our defense came out and created turnovers. Offensively, we controlled the clock.”
Atlanta, the NFL’s top rushing team, ran for 256 yards.
The Lions had such a rough day they went through three quarterbacks.
Harrington started and was 6-of-13 for 61 yards with an interception. Jeff Garcia entered late in the first half and completed 14 of 24 passes for 154 yards with a TD and an interception. Rookie Dan Orlovsky, who got a chance to play late, was 5-of-11 for 43 yards and, fittingly, a fumble with 15 seconds left just outside Atlanta’s end zone.
When Detroit’s quarterbacks did make good passes, the receivers often dropped them.
The Falcons led 17-0 early in the second quarter after scoring on three of their first four drives while Detroit had turnovers on its first two possessions.
Vick’s second TD pass to Crumpler, a 32-yard connection, put Atlanta ahead 24-0 on its first second-half possession.
On the ensuing drive, Garcia was intercepted when he threw a long pass to Mike Williams, who instead ran an out pattern.
That’s when the first wave of fans at Ford Field headed for the exits.
Todd Peterson’s 23-yard field goal gave the Falcons a 27-0 lead midway through the third quarter.
A lucky bounce helped the Lions avoid the shutout.
In what has become a Motor City tradition, some fans chanted, “Let’s Go Red Wings!” late in the fourth quarter as perhaps 5,000 spectators stuck around to watch the end of the awful performance.
Since starting 3-3 and sharing the NFC North lead with Chicago, the Lions have lost four of five.
“I shoulder the responsibility for this football team,” said coach Steve Mariucci, appearing as distressed as he has in three seasons. “It isn’t any one thing—it is a multitude of things, and those are what a head coach is responsible for.”
Guard Damien Woody said the Lions reached the low point of their disappointing season.
“It’s embarrassing to come out here and play the way we did on national TV,” Woody said. “I’m just shocked that we came out the way we did.”
Atlanta DE Brady Smith (toe) missed his fourth straight game, but Mora said he’s hopeful Smith will play Dec. 4 at Carolina. … Detroit RB Kevin Jones (quadriceps), FS Terrence Holt (elbow), OT Jeff Backus (ankle) and LB Donte’ Curry (quadriceps) were injured during the game. … The Lions have lost four of their last five Thanksgiving games after losing only once from 1994-00.