Richard Martin

Lions Dismember Packers In 40-10 Feeding Frenzy

Created on Nov. 28, 2013 11:40 PM EST

It’s tough to recall a matchup as uneven as Thanksgiving’s Lions-Packers game. The Dream Team vs. Angola?

The Lions completely dominated this game, outgaining Green Bay 561-126 and scoring the final 37 points. And yet, revealingly, the game was in doubt well into the third quarter.

Detroit needs a psychiatrist. Talk about schizophrenia: This team can look like world-beaters one minute, and then they can make some of the dumbest plays possible the next. I wonder what Sigmund Freud would’ve said about them.

On the plus side, the team’s lines controlled the game. The Lions picked up 30 first downs to only seven for the Packers. The pass rush never let the unfortunate Matt Flynn do anything, sacking him seven times, once for a safety. Calvin Johnson made some big plays, Jeremy Ross had a good game against his former mates, Reggie Bush was great, Joique Bell played well.

And yet the Lions committed some terrible blunders that made the game close, especially in the first half. Bush fumbled when the Lions were on the brink of scoring on their first drive. The Packers made a play early, as Nick Perry stripped the ball out of Matthew Stafford’s hands and Morgan Burnett ran it in for a touchdown. Green Bay led this game 10-3 before the Lions went to work, but even so the Lions made four turnovers. Stafford threw two interceptions.

That wasn’t all. A missed field goal, kickoffs out of bounds, penalties. The Lions, for all their talent on both sides of the ball, are the Chicago Cubs of football. They just have the knack for screwing up, and they do so in both ordinary and extraordinary ways.

It was a must-win for the Lions. This team should win the NFC North, with rivals Chicago and Green Bay fielding substitute quarterbacks, but it keeps fumbling chances away as turnovers pile up. They lost at Pittsburgh and at home to Tampa Bay the past two weeks.

The Lions had lost nine straight games on Thanksgiving. It was the first time Stafford had beaten the Packers. The team had beaten their rivals only once since 2005.

The stakes were high. The Lions needed to win so they could extend their lead over the Packers, who will get Aaron Rodgers back soon.

Jim Schwartz needed a win because he’s expected to take his team to the playoffs, and anything less might leave him out on the pavement seeking new employment.

Give the Lions credit for resilience. They played great in the second half and overcame their mistakes. You couldn’t see any trace of hesitation or nerves.

You could hardly blame Flynn. This was a lifeless Packer team. The only time the defense stopped the Lions was via the turnover. There was no rushing game.

Green Bay legend Bart Starr probably winced watching at home. This game resembled the 1962 Thanksgiving game – highlighted on Fox with some video – when Starr was sacked 11 times, and the Lions won 26-14. (Fox broadcaster Troy Aikman had a good line: “You’re telling me Bart Starr dropped back to pass 11 times?”) Alex Karras and Roger Brown feasted on Starr in the Green Bay backfield that Thanksgiving. It was the Packers’ only loss that year.

This is the weakest the division has been in a while. Last year the Packers and Vikings made the playoffs, and the Bears barely missed. But last weekend St. Louis walloped Chicago and the Lions lost to the Buccaneers while the Packers managed only a tie at home against a weak Minnesota team. Right now it might be the worst division amid the Bears’ and Packers’ injuries. By all logic this should be the year the Lions take it.

You don’t have to ask which Lions team will show up. Most likely both, the good and the bad. It’s hard to know what to make of them. They might miss the playoffs. But if they could ever eliminate mistakes, they could win the Super Bowl. I don’t think anyone has more overall talent.

The schedule seems to favor the Lions. They play Philadelphia and Minnesota on the road and the Ravens and Giants at home. The Bears play the Vikings, Browns and Eagles on the road and Dallas and Green Bay at home. The Packers play at Dallas and Chicago and at home against the Falcons and Steelers.

Oddsmakers probably throw their hands in the air over the Lions. They’re tough to figure out. And their fans grow quiet whenever the team appears to be blowing it, which is often.

Still, the Lions are impressive when they put it all together, as they did in the second half against Green Bay. They’ll need to do that for a full 60 minutes to do any damage in the playoffs. If they get there, that is.

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