Lions dominant in 40-10 rout of Packers

NOAH TRISTER (AP Sports Writer)
The Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- For almost a decade, Thanksgiving seemed to bring out the worst in Detroit's struggling football franchise.

With one brilliant, dominating performance, Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh and the Lions finally put an end to that trend.

Stafford threw for three touchdowns, and Suh's sack for a safety was part of a smothering performance by the Detroit defense, which led the Lions to a 40-10 rout of the Green Bay Packers on Thursday. Detroit snapped a nine-game losing streak on Thanksgiving.

''It's big for us and for this city,'' coach Jim Schwartz said. ''People appreciate Detroit and the tradition that goes into it, and we haven't played well enough on Thanksgiving recently. I think this goes a long way into putting us on the right track.''

Two years ago, Suh was ejected in a Thanksgiving loss to the Packers for stomping at a Green Bay player. Last season, the Lions lost to Houston in a game best remembered for Schwartz's illegal toss of a challenge flag.

The Lions moved on from all that with a tremendous performance on national television Thursday. They were able to win in a blowout despite turning the ball over four times.

Detroit (7-5) leads the NFC North, although Chicago will have a chance to pull even this weekend. The Packers (5-6-1) now face a tough task if they are going to rally for a playoff spot.

Green Bay is on a five-game winless streak that coincides directly with the absence of Aaron Rodgers, who fractured his collarbone against Chicago on Nov. 4.

''We're a wounded team that got drilled today, by a good football team,'' Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. ''That's the facts of the matter. We have a long weekend. Hopefully we'll get some more people back.''

Here are five things we learned from a victory they'll be savoring in Detroit:

TOUGH TALK: Green Bay offensive lineman Josh Sitton set the tone for this game Tuesday in an interview with Milwaukee radio station WSSP 1250.

''Their entire defense takes cheap shots all the time,'' he said. ''That's what they do. That's who they are. ... They're a bunch of dirtbags ... that's how they play, and that's how they're coached.''

The Lions responded by sacking Green Bay's Matt Flynn seven times and holding the Packers to seven first downs.

''I don't take back anything I said, but I don't want to stand here and discuss it again. They played great,'' Sitton said. ''No one ever said they weren't a great defensive front. They are probably the best inside combination in the league. It doesn't change the way I feel.''

BUSH BOUNCES BACK: Reggie Bush ended Detroit's first drive with a fumble deep in Green Bay territory, but the Lions went back to him.

Bush finished with 117 yards rushing and 65 receiving, scoring a touchdown on a 1-yard run in the second quarter that put the Lions ahead to stay.

OVERCOMING TURNOVERS: After turning the ball over five times in a loss to Tampa Bay last weekend, the Lions seemed to be their own worst enemy again Thursday. After three early turnovers - one of which was returned for a touchdown - Detroit trailed 10-3.

But the Lions were simply too good on both sides of the ball, and by the end, they'd forced three turnovers themselves.

NO REPEAT: Flynn threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns against Detroit in the final game of the 2011 regular season. This outing couldn't have been more different. He went 10 for 20 for 139 yards with an interception and two fumbles.

Detroit was missing defensive back Chris Houston because of an injury, but it didn't matter.

STOPPING THE RUN: The Packers have been leaning on rookie running back Eddie Lacy lately, but he was limited to 16 yards on 10 carries. Detroit outrushed the Packers 241-24 and outgained them 561-126.

''It's a big game,'' Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy said. ''It's important to Detroit, the organization, the city. You always want to come in here and perform well and represent the city and the organization well and we did that.''

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