Lions-Packers: What we learned

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- The Detroit Lions didn't need an opponent to call them dirty names to get riled up. It just seemed that way in their biggest victory over NFC North rival Green Bay in 40 years.
Packers guard Josh Sitton called Lions players and coaches dirtbags and other derogatory names during a radio interview earlier in the week. The Lions did all the talking once the game started.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford passed for 330 yards and three scores as the Lions overcame four turnovers and snapped a nine-game Thanksgiving Day losing streak by thumping the Packers 40-10 at Ford Field.
The Lions, who have committed 17 turnovers in the last five games, outgained the Packers 561-126 in total yards. Detroit ended a five-game losing streak to Green Bay and achieved its largest margin of victory over the Packers since a 34-0 win on Oct. 28, 1973.
"I don't know if you take it personally, but you sure as heck hear it," Stafford said of Sitton's comments. "There's a fine line between making sure it motivates you but also making sure it doesn't step over the bound on the field. They're motivated enough. Guys are motivated to go out and play well every week. We don't need any extra help."
Stafford got plenty of help from his running game and his defense. Running back Reggie Bush had 182 all-purpose yards and a touchdown and backup Joique Bell added 94 rushing yards and a score as the Lions rushed for 241 yards.
The defense sacked Green Bay quarterback Matt Flynn seven times, including Ndamukong Suh's end zone takedown for a safety, and forced three turnovers.
Green Bay's offensive line, including Sitton, couldn't do anything to stop the flow of pass rushers and tacklers in the backfield.
"They pretty much didn't have anything to say," Detroit defensive tackle C.J. Mosley said. "I wouldn't, either. You have to put points on the board to say anything."
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson caught six passes for 101 yards and a score as the Lions (7-5) moved a half-game ahead of Chicago for first place in the NFC North. Wide receiver Jeremy Ross, who was waived by Green Bay in September, scored his first NFL touchdown on a 5-yard Stafford pass during the second quarter.
Flynn completed 10 of 20 passes for 139 yards. In his only previous start against the Lions on New Year's Day 2012, Flynn threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns, both franchise records.
The Packers (5-6-1) are 0-4-1 since starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone.
"Right now, everyone's upset and embarrassed a little big, especially myself," Flynn said. "It's one of the worst games I've been a part of, but we're still optimistic. We just have to look at it as one of those days and put it behind us."
Green Bay safety Morgan Burnett recovered two fumbles, one for a touchdown.
Bush set the tone for Detroit's bumbling ways by coughing up the ball inside the Packers' 10-yard line on his team's first possession. But his 1-yard touchdown run with 1:22 left in the half put the Lions on top 17-10.
"I was really down on myself early, just disappointed that I fumbled," Bush said. "In the playoffs or bigger games, that will get you beat. But we finished strong and that's the biggest thing we can take away from this. When we get out of our own way, we can be pretty special."

What the Packers said
"We are a wounded team that got drilled today by a good football team. That's the facts of the matter. We have a long weekend and hopefully we get some more people back. Frankly, you have to run the football, you have to pass protect, we have to get off blocks, we have to tackle better." -- coach Mike McCarthy.

What the Lions said
"It's huge. We lost two games going into this game that could have separated us and it didn't happen. The past is the past. We had a five-game season coming into this game to hold our spot in our division and move it forward. We still haven't played our best game, but to turn over the ball four times and score 40 and only give up a handful of first downs, that's a good game." -- quarterback Matthew Stafford.

What we learned about the Packers
1. Lightning doesn't strike twice, especially when the offensive line is depleted. Quarterback Matt Flynn threw a team-record six touchdown passes in the 2011 season finale against Detroit, but there was no magic against the Lions' ferocious pass rush on Thursday. He completed just 10 passes, threw an interception and got sacked seven times. An already banged-up line took another hit when center Evan Dietrich-Smith suffered a first-half knee injury.
2. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will have to carry them when he returns. The Packers are hopeful Rodgers will be back for the remainder of the season as he continues to recover from a broken collarbone. All the weight will be on his shoulders because the defense just isn't good enough. The Packers have allowed at least 26 points in six consecutive games and gave up a whopping 561 yards to the Lions.

What we learned about the Lions
1. The pass rush is the key to their success. Detroit doesn't have enough playmakers in the secondary, particularly at the corners, so it needs big plays from its front seven. The defensive line and linebackers delivered on Thursday with seven sacks and three takeaways. Defensive end Ziggy Ansah continued his strong rookie season with his second straight two-sack game and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh consistently collapsed the pocket.
2. When wide receiver Calvin Johnson finds some seams and the offense in general hangs onto the ball, the unit is nearly unstoppable. Green Bay didn't have a shutdown corner to stifle Johnson and he had more than 100 receiving yards and a touchdown. The Lions had four more turnovers on Thursday, giving them 17 in five games, but they scored on virtually every other possession.

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