It was no secret going into Thanksgiving that the Green Bay Packers have been struggling on defense as of late. They've been getting gashed both through the air and on the ground, and that was once again the case on Thanksgiving when they took on the Detroit Lions.
The Lions used a very balanced attack to tear apart the Green Bay defense. Detroit finished with 561 total yards, 320 of which came through the air. Matthew Stafford went 22 for 35 for 330 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, and his top receiver was Calvin Johnson, who had 6 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. Stafford actually completed passes to 9 different players on Thursday.
On the ground, it was the Reggie Bush and Joique Bell show. Bush ran the ball 20 times for 117 yards and a touchdown, while Bell had 19 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown. Add in a 24-yard end-around by Jeremy Ross and a scramble by Stafford and the Lions ended up with 241 yards rushing on 43 carries as a team. That's an average of 5.6 yards per carry.
The Lions' recipe for success on defense was quite simple: shut down Eddie Lacy and get after Matt Flynn. Lacy ran the ball 10 times for only 16 yards, and Green Bay only managed 24 yards rushing on 15 carries as a team. As for Flynn, he had a long, long day. He was sacked 7 times and hit 9 times, and he threw an interception and fumbled the ball away twice. What's more, he went only 10 for 20 for 139 yards and 0 touchdowns.
Considering what happened in the couple weeks before the Thanksgiving game for the Lions, the coaching staff has deservingly taken a lot of criticism recently. However, they deserve a good amount of praise for their game plan on Thanksgiving. Scott Linehan called a great game, and Gunther Cunningham had the defense firing on all cylinders. Yes, there were mistakes along the way, especially in the first half, but Jim Schwartz's team came ready to play on Thursday.