The Detroit Lions thought they were going to have a Thanksgiving feast. Jordan Love and the Green Bay Packers had other plans.
Love threw for three touchdowns as the Packers took advantage of many Lions’ miscues and dominated the Lions on Thanksgiving Day, beating Detroit 29-22 and staying alive in the NFC playoff race. Love finished with 268 yards and 39 yards rushing to lead a Packers offense that put up 377 yards in the win.
The Lions put up 464 yards of their own, but they went 1 of 5 on fourth down (0 and 4 to start) and Jared Goff fumbled three times in the loss. Detroit went for it twice in Green Bay territory on fourth down, failing to convert both times. Goff also fumbled on a pass attempt in the first quarter and Jonathan Owens picked it up and easily ran it in for a 27-yard scoop and score to put the Packers up 20-6. The deficit was too big for the Lions to overcome, even if it was in the first quarter.
Love found Christian Watson for a 53-yard gain on the first play of the game, which led to a Jayden Reed touchdown to put Green Bay up 7-0 — a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The Lions did respond with a Jared Goff touchdown to Sam LaPorta to make it 7-6 (missed PAT by Riley Patterson), but Green Bay went right down the field — ending in a Love touchdown pass to Tucker Kraft to make it 14-6. Goff’s fumble set the Packers up with the two-score lead, and the Lions were overaggressive the rest of the way.
With the victory, the Packers kept pace with the Vikings for the No. 7 seed in the conference. They remain a game in the loss column behind the Vikings for the final playoff spot. The Lions still lead the NFC North, but fall 1.5 games behind the Philadelphia Eagles for home-field advantage in the NFC — two games behind in the loss column.
Takeaways from this game are below, and enjoy this recap of the Thanksgiving matinee in the live blog below!
Why the Packers won
Green Bay’s defense deserves plenty of credit in this one, specifically the pass rush. The Packers finished with 12 quarterback hurries and three sacks — all from Rashan Gary. 27 pressures (including seven by Kenny Clark) played a huge role in getting to Jared Goff and forcing three fumbles.
The Packers also scored on their first two possessions as Jordan Love threw touchdown passes to Jayden Reed and Tucker Kraft to put pressure on the Lions. That also caused Detroit becoming over aggressive. Love also threw for three touchdowns on Thanksgiving in what was arguably his best performance of the year.
Why the Lions lost
The Lions were always within striking distance of the Packers, yet their overaggressiveness cost them multiple times throughout the game. Dan Campbell went for it five times on fourth down and didn’t convert any of them until the game was basically decided with under three minutes to play.
The Lions went for it on fourth-and-4 from the Packers’ 35 in a 20-6 game, but rushed to get the play off before the two-minute warning (they didn’t have to), which led to an incomplete pass. They decided to run a fake punt on their own 23-yard line midway through the third quarter in a 23-14 game and failed to gain a yard (Packers scored a touchdown on the short field to make it 29-14). They also failed to convert a fourth-and-7 on the Packers’ 12 to keep the deficit at 29-14.
Detroit is the most aggressive team on fourth down in the NFL, and that aggressiveness has served the Lions well. Lots of questionable decisions on fourth down in this one.
Jared Goff fumbling a throwing attempt on second-and-12 at the Lions’ 23-yard line led to a Jonathan Owens scoop and score to put the Packers up 20-6 late in the first quarter. Two plays from scrimmage after Green Bay got a Tucker Craft touchdown to take a 14-6 lead, Rashan Gary forced a Goff fumble on a pass he believed was a forward pass.
Goff didn’t have control of the ball as it escaped his hand, leading to the easy score. The Packers, meanwhile, had control of the game from that point as the Lions tried to be too aggressive in order to get back into the game.
Play of the game
Jordan Love and Christian Watson were on point throughout the afternoon, but their best play came on a 16-yard touchdown catch with 3:30 left in the third quarter, Watson’s final catch on a day which he had 94 receiving yards was on a third-and-3 — the play after the fake punt failure by Detroit — as the Packers receiver had a leaping grab on a strong throw from Love that put Green Bay up 29-14.
Love’s third touchdown pass was his best throw. Watson’s catch was his best reception.
“This isn’t something where I wanna get into panic mode. I’ve got time to look at a couple things. This is the same team that’s been here the whole year. We clean a few things up and get back in a rhythm and we’ll be just fine.” — Lions head coach Dan Campbell on his team’s performance the last three games after the loss. The Lions have lost seven straight games on Thanksgiving and are 32nd in points per game allowed since Week 7.
The Lions (8-3) will play the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, Dec. 3 (road game) while the Packers (5-6) host the Kansas City Chiefs on “Sunday Night Football.”