Lions battle back to beat Packers
Cowboys’ win guarantees Oakland another losing season
DETROIT | Matthew Stafford and Reggie Bush did their part to keep the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers in the game.
Stafford turned the ball over a few times and Bush did once.
Instead of crumbling and losing confidence, both players bounced back and helped the Detroit Lions put together a dominant performance after an awful start.
Stafford threw three touchdown passes, including one to Calvin Johnson, Bush had 182 yards of offense and scored, and Detroit scored 37 straight points to rout Green Bay 40-10 on Thursday.
“When we get out of our own way, we can be pretty special,” Bush said.
Early on, it looked as if the Lions were going to find another way to waste chances to win a game and take control of the NFC North.
“It’s easy when you lose a couple games in a row, particularly the fashion that we lost, for people to say, ‘Here we go again,’” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. “I’m sure there were some people that were saying that, but they weren’t on our sideline.”
The Lions (7-5) had lost their last two games, five consecutive against Green Bay and a franchise-record nine straight in their annual showcase on Thanksgiving.
“It’s a step in the right direction for us,” Stafford said. “I’m sure the turkey will taste better.”
The Packers (5-6-1) have a five-game winless streak for the first time since
threw at least three interceptions in four games during that skid.
Since a 23-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 21, Manning has been steadier. He has thrown just two interceptions in the past five games — one each in victories over the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers — and the Giants have committed only six turnovers as a team.
“I think we’ve played smarter football and not having the turnovers, not having penalties and as many negative plays as we were having those first weeks,” Manning said. “We’re starting to play better football — more sound and running the ball better. I think those have been some big differences in these past weeks.”
The Giants have been inconsistent running the ball in the past several years; they won the Super Bowl after the 2007 season with the fourth-ranked rushing offense, but won it after the 2011 season with the worst in the league.
Having some semblance of stability in the backfield has also helped over the past month. In the wake of season-ending injuries to Da’Rel Scott and David Wilson, a first-round pick last year who has had issues with ball security, Andre Brown has established himself as the team’s leading rusher. The running game also has been amplified with the return of Brandon Jacobs, the addition of Peyton Hillis and the development of seventh-round draft pick Michael Cox.
“They’re all power runners,” Redskins defensive end Jarvis Jenkins said. “They’re all downhill runners, kind of similar to [San Francisco 49ers running back] Frank Gore. You’ve got Brown, and ever since he’s been starting, they’ve been averaging 4.6 yards per carry. That’s what the Giants do. They want to run the ball. They want to be balanced.
“I can honestly say that when they were going through that little losing streak, they couldn’t really find a solid back to find solid yards, and these last couple games they’ve been winning, they’ve been rushing the ball.”
One problem the Giants haven’t been able to resolve this season is the stability of their offensive line. Only left tackle Will Beatty and right tackle Justin Pugh, a rookie, have played in all 11 games this season.
The interior of their line has been in chaos; six players have been shuffled in and out at each of the three positions, and center Jim Cordle, who started the past 10 games, strained the patellar tendon in his left knee Sunday and was placed on injured reserve. Two other linemen — David Baas and Chris Snee — also are done for the season.
“They had some issues up front early, and I think they corrected those,” Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “[Manning is] getting much better protection, so he’s not really forcing the ball.”
Coughlin, the Giants’ coach since 2004, didn’t waver earlier this year in the face of the team’s issues. His fallback was the familiarity with his players — a group that had won at least eight games in all but his first season.
“I just think that you start out with a good group of people, you know the character of those people,” Coughlin said. “We’ve obviously been through a lot together here with the leaders of this team. I believe in those guys, they believe in us, and the idea was that we stay together and fight our way through adversity and no one points a finger. We’re in it together as a team.”
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) congratulates wide receiver Jeremy Ross (12) after Ross’ 5-yard touchdown reception during the second quarter.