Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions: Takeaways from Detroit's 40-10 Win

Jeff Risdon@@JeffRisdonContributor INovember 28, 2013

Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions: Takeaways from Detroit's 40-10 Win

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    The Detroit Lions hosted the Green Bay Packers in Detroit's annual Thanksgiving day game at Ford Field. They were not gracious hosts, eviscerating the Packers 40-10.

    Detroit seized first place in the NFC North with the impressive victory.

    It was the Lions' first win on Thanksgiving since 2003. Moreover, it was arguably the most dominant performance by the Lions that I can recall in my lifetime, and I'm in my 40s.

    With the win, the Lions are now 7-5 while the Packers fall to 5-6-1. The two teams split the season series. The Chicago Bears, who are balanced between these two at 6-5, will play on Sunday.

    Detroit now gets a nice break before heading to Philadelphia to face the Eagles in Week 14. The Packers also get time off to prepare for a visit from the Atlanta Falcons.

    Here are some initial thoughts and takeaways from the game.

    *All stats are courtesy of ESPN unless otherwise indicated.

You Cannot Run on the Detroit Lions

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    Here is what the Detroit Lions have done as a run defense in the last four games:

    OpponentAttemptsYardsRushing First Downs
    Green Bay15240
    Tampa Bay24221

    If you don't have a calculator handy, that works out to 86 carries producing 124 yards. Opponents are averaging 1.4 yards per carry in that span.

    Coming into the game, the Packers were hoping to lean on Eddie Lacy to help take some of the pressure off Matt Flynn.

    Those best-laid plans went to waste quickly.

    The "dirtbags" up front, as Packers guard Josh Sitton called the Lions' defensive line, completely dominated the line of scrimmage once again.

    Lacy never really stood much of a chance in this game. His direct style and lack of lateral wiggle are a terrible matchup versus Detroit's powerful front. The Lions flexed their muscles in this one in a dominant performance against the run.

Ziggy Ansah Is Back!

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    The Lions really missed rookie defensive end Ziggy Ansah when he sat out a few weeks with a high ankle sprain. He returned last week against Tampa Bay and bagged two sacks.

    Ziggy was just getting started.

    The fifth overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft hammered Matt Flynn for two more sacks this week. The first of them demonstrated his quickness and power.

    Holy Ansah.

    — Ian Kenyon (@IanKenyonNFL) November 28, 2013

    For good measure, Ansah also contributed two tackles for loss against the run. He also hit Flynn on two other attempts. 

    He turned in another impact game. That is precisely why the Lions drafted him so highly. 

    I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the other Lions rookie defensive end, Devin Taylor. The fourth-rounder also had a strong game. He also notched two sacks of Flynn and produced a couple of nice tackles right at the line of scrimmage against the run. 

    Detroit is in really good shape going forward with this exciting rookie tandem.

Reggie Bush Can Spell "Atonement"

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    On Detroit's first drive of the game, Reggie Bush fumbled in the red zone. That cost the Lions a potential touchdown and sent Bush to the sidelines with head in hands.

    For the rest of the afternoon, Bush was electrifying.

    He ended the day with 117 yards on 20 carries, including a touchdown. Bush also caught all five passes thrown his way for 65 yards. All five of those receptions produced first downs. 

    Bush ran with purpose all afternoon. He certainly atoned for his early gaffe, and he was rewarded with a prestigious honor.

    Reggie Bush wins the prestigious Galloping Gobbler Award. Just try and take that away, NCAA.

    — SB Nation NFL (@SBNationNFL) November 28, 2013

Turnovers Remain a Major Problem

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    Even in a day of glorious triumph, the Lions splash a little cold water on the fans' faces. Detroit committed four more turnovers against the Packers.

    This continues a rather disturbing trend. 

    Green Bay4
    Tampa Bay5

    From the Stafford fumble on the Nick Perry sack (pictured) to Bush's red-zone fumble to a very nice interception in the end zone by Sam Shields in front of Calvin Johnson, the Lions continue to cough the ball up at an alarming rate.

    Going forward, the Lions simply cannot expect to win the NFC North if they don't start taking better care of the football.

The Kickers Had a Rough Day

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    It was not a happy Thanksgiving for either David Akers or Sam Martin. 

    Akers missed a 31-yard field goal at the end of the first half, putting a down note on what was otherwise a very impressive second quarter. The veteran kicker almost never misses from that close, and it marked the fourth time he's missed a field goal in 18 attempts.

    Martin booted two kickoffs out of bounds, which results in the opponent taking over at the 40 instead of the 20. Those are inexcusable errors for a placekicker, and Martin was cursing himself after both incidents.

    Martin did somewhat redeem himself with a nice punt that was fair-caught at the Green Bay 4-yard line, but it doesn't erase the negative slate for the day.

    At a minimum, I expect the Lions to bring in kickers for workouts. Akers similarly plunged off a cliff last season in San Francisco, and the Lions cannot afford to leave points on the field.

Payback Was Sweet for Jeremy Ross

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    Jeremy Ross began the 2013 season as a Green Bay Packer. He played in their first three games, catching one pass for eight yards but also losing a fumble in the loss to Cincinnati.

    The Packers cut him right after that game. He extracted his revenge on their impatience in Detroit.

    Ross caught a five-yard touchdown pass on a pretty slant pattern where he ran right past his former teammates. He also churned out a nifty 24-yard run, narrowly avoiding a tackle for loss by A.J. Hawk before breaking into the open field to convert a third down.

    Solid first half for Lions Jeremy Ross: 24 yds rushing (5 more than Packers), 5 yds receiving w/ TD and 57 yds in returns. #Packers #Lions

    — Paula Pasche (@paulapasche) November 28, 2013

    For good measure, Ross broke off a 35-yard punt return as well as running for 70 yards on three kick returns.

    He appears to have solidified his grasp on the return specialist role, and his ability to contribute to the offense adds value. We may have seen the last of Micheal Spurlock in a Lions uniform as a result.

The Offensive Line Was Great. Again.

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    Detroit put up some truly awesome offensive numbers against Green Bay:

    • 561 total yards of offense
    • 241 yards rushing
    • 30 first downs
    • 9.1 net yards per attempt by Matthew Stafford

    None of that happens without excellent play by the offensive line.

    Left tackle Riley Reiff in particular had an outstanding day. Other than one bad play—the Nick Perry strip sack—Reiff thoroughly dominated the Green Bay defenders.

    Riley Reiff had the one bad play but other than that he is destroying Nick Perry. Crushed him on both Bush runs there, on his a$$. #GBvsDET

    — Jeff Risdon (@JeffRisdon) November 28, 2013

    The good folks at Pro Football Focus haven't released their charting scores yet, but I suspect Reiff will grade out extraordinarily well. I also suspect right guard Larry Warford will grade even higher. 

    Green Bay recorded just one QB hit on the game, aside from Perry's sack, on 35 pass attempts by Stafford. Coupled with the exemplary running production, the Detroit offensive line played one of the best games in the league this year.

DeAndre Levy Augments His Candidacy for Most Improved Player

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    I'm going to keep beating this drum until somebody takes away my sticks.

    DeAndre Levy deserves strong consideration to win the Most Improved Player honor. I wrote about it at length recently, and the Green Bay game only bolsters my contention that he should be a front-runner. 

    Levy pulled down his sixth interception of the season, which leads the league. 

    So far as I can tell, a linebacker has not led the NFL in picks in a season in the modern era. DeAndre Levy now leads with six.

    — SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) November 28, 2013

    Levy also broke up two other passes, which gives him 13 on the season. Only Baltimore's Daryl Smith and Arizona's Karlos Dansby have more among linebackers, according to this stat chart from ESPN

    This is remarkable progress for Levy, as well as the entire Detroit linebacking corps. The linebackers have been a barren wasteland in terms of impact plays over recent seasons, but Levy has changed that all by himself.