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Friday, November 26, 2010

It is all they've got but please get the Lions off of Thanksgiving

If there is one thing more predictable than getting sick of your relatives in about 10 minutes during a holiday, it is watching the Detroit Lions throw up all over themselves each and every Thanksgiving. In a perverse way, you've got to hand to them as they seem to have it down to a science at this point.

Yesterday, the New England Patriots were in Detroit on Turkey Day for the first time since 2002 and despite a slow start (17-10 deficit at the half), they turned it on in the fourth quarter and left that miserable city with a 45-24 win.

Detroit (2-9) has now lost seven straight Thanksgiving matchups so let me be the millionth person to ask, can we break the lame tradition of having them and the Cowboys host a game every year on Thanksgiving?

The Patriots (9-2) kept pace with the Jets (9-2), who beat the Bengals 26-10 last night, and set up the game of the year on Monday Night Football: December 6 as the Jets come to Gillette for a game that will likely determine the AFC East, possibly the top seed in the AFC and home-field advantage.

Ho hum, Tom Brady had a perfect passer rating, the second time he's done that in his storybook career (first time was in 2007 vs. Miami). Brady was 21 of 27 for 341 yards and four touchdowns. Deion Branch (3 catches, 113 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Wes Welker (8 catches, 90 yards, 2 touchdowns) had the best game they've ever had together.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, that touchdown machine, added two more as he ran for 59 yards on 12 carries. Devin McCourty continued his rapid ascension to stardom as he picked off two passes, giving him five interceptions on the season.

Lions quarterback Shaun Hill (27 of 46, 285 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions) kept his team in it for a while with plenty of help from Calvin Johnson (4 catches, 81 yards, 1 touchdown) and Maurice Morris (55 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns) but Detroit completely fell apart in the fourth quarter as they were outscored 21-0.

Detroit tight end Brandon Pettigrew added five catches for 67 yards.

Patriots kicker Shayne Graham opened the scoring with a 19-yard field goal as New England couldn't punch it in during their first red zone trip.

Johnson answered with a 19-yard touchdown catch on the final play of the first quarter. It's too bad he's not on a decent team because he would be a superstar for real.

Morris' first score (1-yard run) gave Detroit a 14-3 lead in the second quarter but Green-Ellis ran up the middle for a 15-yard touchdown.

Dave Rayner's 44-yard field goal as time expired in the first half gave the Lions a 17-10 halftime lead and no doubt caused a couple of your clueless relatives to start freaking out.

Welker and the Pats moved the ball on their first drive of the third quarter and scored when Welker dragged a couple Lions into the end zone on a 5-yard catch and run.

Detroit's final score was another 1-yard run by Morris which gave them a temporary 24-17 advantage.

From there it was a clinic as Brady and the Patriots receivers put on a clinic, particularly picking on Lions cornerback Alphonso Smith.

First Branch hauled in a 79-yard touchdown catch (longest play of the season for New England and longest catch of his career) where he no lie juked Smith three times. The third quarter ended tied at 24 but New England had finally gained the momentum.

Next, Branch added a 22-yard touchdown on a perfectly threaded pass from Brady. Thanks to McCourty's pair of interceptions (and nice returns), the Patriots defense pitched a shutout in the fourth quarter. Welker caught a 16-yard touchdown pass and Green-Ellis scored on yet another 1-yard touchdown run. Game over, drive home safely Lions fans.

After a cramped schedule with the Steelers, Colts and Lions in a short span of time, the Patriots deservedly are off until Monday and then they can get to work on the Jets. This game is a must-win for the reasons I already mentioned plus New York dominated New England 28-14 in Week 2 which seems like ages ago.


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