Li­ons bat­tle back to beat Pack­ers

Cow­boys’ win guar­an­tees Oakland another los­ing sea­son

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Detroit Li­ons quar­ter­back Matthew Stafford (9) con­grat­u­lates wide re­ceiver Jeremy Ross (12) af­ter Ross’ 5-yard touch­down re­cep­tion dur­ing the sec­ond quar­ter.

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