Thursday, November 22, 2007

Another Ruined Thanksgiving -- Packers Carve Up Lions 37-26

The Green Bay Packers score touchdowns. The Detroit Lions score field goals. The Green Bay Packers make tackles. The Detroit Lions do not. And that's why the Packers are 10-1, on their way to an NFC North championship and a first round bye in the 2007 NFL Playoffs and the Detroit Lions are 6-5, in a tailspin of a three-game losing streak and are likely to miss the playoffs, again, after starting off the season 6-2. It was another lost Thanksgiving for the Lions, who have not won on Turkey Day since 2003, and likely another lost season, with games at Minnesota, 9-1 Dallas, and at San Diego on the agenda.

This game, like the Arizona game, started off so promising too. The Lions drove right down the field to start the game, and appeared to have a first and goal on the one-yard line. A chop block on center Dominic Raiola, though, set the Lions back, and they were forced to settle for a field goal. The first Packers play from scrimmage was a Brett Favre fumble, and the Lions recovered, deep in Packers territory, with a chance to take a 10-0 lead and put some distance between them and the dangerous Packer passing attack. The Lions offense, though, went three-and-out (a common theme) and were held to a field goal. The Lions defense then forced Favre and the Packers to punt again, and the Lions moved the ball. But then they hit a brick wall and were forced to punt from the Packers 38-yard-line. And that was it. The Lions dominated the first quarter, holding the ball for over 12 minutes, putting up over 100 yards of total offense, and forcing a Green Bay turnover. But all they had to show for it was six points, and that haunted them the rest of the afternoon.

The Packers intercepted a Kitna pass to start the second quarter, the Packers scored one play after that, and before the Lions could turn around, it was 14-6. And even after a great kickoff return (the first of the season really), the Lions again we held three plays and out, and it was another Hanson field goal instead of a touchdown. Brett Favre then went to work, picking apart the Lions defense, as he did, all game long, and by the time the Lions scored two late fourth quarter touchdowns, it was already over.

The Lions did fix some things from their previous two losses. They ran the ball well, Kevin Jones had 93 yards and the team had over 130. And Calvin Johnson was actively involved in the offense, and was targeted all game long. Unfortunately for the Lions, he dropped a number of catchable passes in the first half (odd for Johnson who has proved himself sure-handed this season) and while he had some nice catches late, again, it was already over by that point. The Lions seemed to move the ball at will when they were in their own territory, but as soon as they crossed the 50-yard-line, they fell apart. Penalties, dropped passes, sacks. They would seemingly be in a rhythm, but then they would cross mid-field and the drive would stall. The defense wasn't much better, as they could not get pressure on Brett Favre, and despite the Packers all but abandoning the running game, wide receivers were open all over the field, and Favre, who may have the best field vision of any quarterback to ever play, found them every single time.

Is the season over for the 6-5 Lions? Probably not. While Philadelphia, Washington, and Arizona are only half a game back of the Wildcard lead (and all have the tie-breaker over the Lions, so the Lions must end the season with a better record than each of them, unless Arizona wins the NFC West), the Eagles must play the Patriots, and the Reskins must travel to Tampa Bay. The Cardinals will likely have an easy time with the 49ers, so Lions fans have to hope Seattle stumbles at St. Louis. But most importantly, the Lions have to start winning and the last three weeks, the Lions have shown no evidence they'll be able to do that again anytime soon.

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