It’s Thanksgiving Day and this is the time to be thankful and I’m sure there are plenty of Detroit Lion fans that are thankful that the Lions handle business today and defeated their division rival the Green Bay Packers with a final score of 40-10. Winning this game was big for the Lions in many different ways, winning this game allows them to once again take advantage of the NFC North with a 7-5 record and they get a good victory over a rival, who they have struggled to beat for years now.
Now looking at the score, you would think the Lions must have played some great football and while I feel they played some great football, they could have played even better. Now I know what your thinking, why can’t I just give the Lions a good game and leave it at that? Well I can’t do that because there are always flaws and weaknesses regardless of whether the Lions win or not. In this case it was the turnovers, the offense played great but they still turned the ball over FOUR times. I don’t care if the Lions won, these turnovers are becoming ridiculous, seeing that they have committed 13 turnovers in their last four games including this game.
However, besides the turnovers, I was very happy with the Lions offensive play mainly because they played great balance football. I will start with the passing game, besides the turnovers, I felt quarterback Matthew Stafford took great advantage of the Packers inconsistent secondary. Best of all, he did a great job of spreading the ball around and getting everyone involved. He threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns and threw those three touchdowns to three different targets (Johnson, Ross and Ogletree). So while he didn’t play great, he played solid and was able to move pass the turnovers. I also have to give credit to the Lions receiving core for stepping up. Everyone did a great job of contributing by catching the ball and gaining yards after the catch.
As far as the running game goes, that’s what I want to see more often. I have said before the Lions must run the ball early and often. They have a great combo with running backs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. Bell pounded the ball constantly running for tough yards, gaining first down after first down. Then you have Bush who did a better job of hitting the open holes and accelerating instead of dancing his way into limited yardage. Bell and Bush finished the game with 211 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Now that being said, the Packers run defense has been horrible the last few games, so I am not going overboard about this performance. However, I like the initiative by offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to constantly run the ball and the execution of the Bush and Bell.
Speaking of Linehan, I think he did a better job in this game with the play calling. I love the fact that he exploited the Packers run defense and ran the ball often and stuck with it. Doing that open things through the air and I loved the play action calls, which confused a very inconsistent Packer defense and allows Stafford and the receiving core to make some great plays.
Overall, the Lions offense played the way I want them to play. They played balance, ran the ball well and passed the ball well. However, the turnovers are still unacceptable. Head Coach Jim Schwartz said in his post game press conference “That you can never play a perfect game.” Being perfect is not the point, I don’t expect the Lions to be perfect but the turnovers are things that can be avoided. Whether it be Bush not protecting the ball or Stafford making the wrong read and being picked off. I have said it time and time again, fans tend to care less about the flaws when the Lions win, I don’t. Packers are a struggling team right now and the Lions allowed this game to stay in reach because of their turnovers. Think about it, the Lions won with a final score of 40-10, they should have scored more around 60 points but the turnovers limited that. The Lions offense is a force but the turnovers must stop. The only reason the turnovers didn’t hurt the Lions in this game is because of the stellar defense.
Which leads me to the Lions defense who are the true heroes of this game. Many fans don’t realize that the Lions defense only allowed the Packers offense to score three points in this game. The only touchdown the Packers were able to execute on was when the Packers were able to recover a fumble by Stafford in the end-zone. So besides the field goal the Packers earned in the first quarter, the Lions defense didn’t allow them to score.
Everyone likes to talk about the Lions pass rush but the real edge of the Lions that doesn’t get enough credit is the Lions front seven who does a great job of limiting the run game every week. The Lions run defense is currently ranked 4th in the NFL, limiting opponents to 88 rushing yards a game. Lions did a great job in this game of not allowing the Packers to establish a ground presence at all. It all started with the Nndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley controlling the line of scrimmage which allowed linebackers DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch to make plays in the backfield.
Of course, I have to give credit to the Lions pass rush, who played extremely well today. They racked up seven sacks and did a great job of pressuring Flynn and making him rush. The secondary also played well, they didn’t play great but they did a good job of limiting wide receiver Jordy Nelson and forcing Flynn to make plays with the rest of his receiving core which he was unable to do.
So again, this is a good victory of the Lions. Despite the turnovers, the Lions played well but again this is a struggling Green Bay team that they should beat anyway. Don’t misunderstand, I am not taking the win away from them, a win is a win in my book. However, again I know the Lions can be even better, they are learning every game but there are still some areas to be concerned about. I encourage the Lions to enjoy their Thanksgiving, rest up and get ready for next game because the Lions go on the road next week as they face-off against the Philadelphia Eagles. Remember that the Lions are capable of beating any team and having plenty of success but only when they execute, take care of the ball, start strong and finish strong. Nonetheless, I am still waiting on my phone call from the Lions organization, so they can offer me a job on their staff but in the meantime, I would like to say Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com