Calvin Johnson is the best Thanksgiving tradition. The 30-year-old wideout is having an up-and-down season, but he made certain to show up for the Lions' biggest annual showcase. With three touchdown receptions, he beat (and then extended) the record for career Thanksgiving touchdowns, which now stands at 11. He had some help from Matthew Stafford, who threw five touchdowns in a 45-14 obliteration of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Let's get the good out of the way for the Eagles. For one drive, they looked like they were going to hang with the Lions. Mark Sanchez went 3-for-3 for 58 yards and a touchdown on a seven-play, 80-play drive that briefly tied the score, 7-7, early in the second quarter.
At that point, it appeared we might be in store for a shootout. The Lions then proceeded to score 38 straight points. On the day, the Lions racked up 430 total yards compared to 227 for the Eagles. Besides Stafford and Johnson, other standout Lions included Golden Tate (seven catches and a score), Ziggy Ansah (3.5 sacks, forced fumble and fumble recovery), and Theo Riddick (five catches and a score).
After the first quarter, Mark Sanchez was largely ineffective, waiting a long time for short passing patterns to open. The Eagles' running game was moribund once again, with DeMarco Murray gaining 30 yards on 14 carries. The Eagles will go back to Philadelphia with no positive takeaway on offense or defense.
The Lions, meanwhile, have now won three straight. They were a team that had lofty ambitions after going 11-5 last season and making the playoffs. It'd take a miracle for them to get back to the postseason, but at least they can, perhaps, enter 2016 on an uptick. For three-and-a-half hours on Thanksgiving, Detroit looked how it was supposed to look, and that's encouraging as it approaches another offseason of sweeping changes.
Three things we learned:
1) Matt Stafford is pretty damn good sometimes
Stafford has been much maligned this year in the midst of a disappointing season for the Lions, but he was great Thursday, going 27-for-38 for 337 yards and five touchdowns -- a 137.8 passer rating. He threw a stunning touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson near the end of the second quarter:
He has been a high-variance player this season -- the nadir was a one-touchdown, three-interception performance in a 42-17 loss against the Cardinals, and the peak was his day on Thanksgiving.
Thursday's game was another reminder of the quarterback Stafford can be at times. Unfortunately for the Lions, he hasn't been able to be that quarterback consistently, and they haven't been able to play up to their talent as a result.
2) The Eagles' defense is awful
Like, Golden Tate LITERALLY strolled into the end zone in the second quarter.
Granted, the Lions are a pretty good offense, talent-wise, but on the season they have rarely been better than mediocre. The Eagles put up no resistance against Tate, Calvin Johnson (three touchdowns!) and company.
The Eagles made significant moves during the offseason to improve their defense, trading for Kiko Alonso and signing cornerback Byron Maxwell to a wealthy contract. The result has been negligible, if not negative. The Eagles were 25th in total offense and 17th in points allowed entering the week. They have now allowed 90 points total across their last two games.
3) Rob Riggle's terrible Bon Jovi cover was spot on
Did you take a nap during the game? Be honest.