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Consistency Still Key For Lions To Make A Playoff Run

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The Lions look to avoid turnovers as the season winds down. Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images.
The Lions look to avoid turnovers as the season winds down. Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images.

Thanksgiving day wasn’t just a moment for the Detroit Lions to retake control of the NFC North division.  It was a chance to show all of the aspects of their game, including the negative ones.  If they can keep winning and finish the season with a playoff birth, this team has the talent to go far.  The big question now is: can they stay consistent for an entire game?  The Lions’ talent is overwhelming with playmakers on both sides of the ball and, at times, they can be dominant.  But it’s becoming more apparent that the team most likely to beat them is, well… the Lions.

In Thursday’s game against the Green Bay Packers, Detroit continued the clumsy play that cost them a win just four days earlier.  Running back Reggie Bush quickly broke his promise to not fumble for the rest of the season when he put one on the ground on the first drive.  Matthew Stafford also fumbled under pressure and threw two interceptions.  And even after great offensive scoring drives, punter Sam Martin sent two kickoffs out of bounds to give the Packers great field position.  Veteran kicker David Akers got in on the act by missing a chip shot field goal before the end of the first half.  Luckily for the Lions, they were able to overcome themselves and still dominate Green Bay for a 40-10 victory.

It’s easy to criticize a team who handily beat a division rival without elite quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the field but there are several positives that Detroit can be proud of.  Playing against backup QB Matt Flynn for the first time since he torched them at Lambeau Field for a franchise-record 480 yards and 6 touchdowns, the Lions completely brutalized him at Ford Field.  The D-line abused the Packers offensive front, getting after Flynn repeatedly and shutting down rookie running back Eddie Lacy.  But stopping the ground game is nothing new for a stout bunch of young linemen.  Detroit hasn't allowed an opponent to run for more than 62 yards or a touchdown in six consecutive weeks - the first time in the NFL since 1933.   

Flynn was sacked seven times and only threw for 139 yards with zero TDs.  The win ends the Lions' 9-game losing streak on Thanksgiving, allowing them to avoid a 3-game losing streak that could have potentially ruined the rest of their season.  Additionally, it’s the first time Matthew Stafford has beaten Green Bay in his career.  With a dominant offensive line performance, Reggie Bush was able to overcome his early turnover to finish with 182 total yards and a touchdown while RB Joique Bell had 128 yards and a score.  Combined, the two backs had more yards from scrimmage than the entire Packers offense. 

The Lions are now poised to finally win a division title if they play their cards right.  That still remains to be seen, but Thursday’s victory puts them squarely back in the driver’s seat.  The most pressing issue now is the turnovers.  They’ve committed 17 in the past 19 quarters.  And although the team can put a lot of points on the board, it has shown the various ways it can shoot itself in the foot. In order to get to the postseason and advance to the later rounds, Detroit cannot commit the usual foolish mistakes.  In road playoff games to already difficult places to win like New Orleans or Seattle, the execution has to be near perfect.