Keys to victory: rushing and pass rush

November, 28, 2013
11/28/13
6:24
PM ET

Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsReggie Bush had more yards from scrimmage than the Packers offense in Thursday's win.

The Detroit Lions made a statement with their 40-10 win over the Green Bay Packers.

Most notably, it snapped a nine-game Thanksgiving Day losing streak, which was the longest such losing streak in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It was also just the Lions' fourth 30-point win in 75 all-time Thanksgiving games, and the first since a 35-point win over the Chicago Bears in 1997.

The Lions finished with a 435-yard advantage over the Packers in total offense (561-126). That’s their largest single-game yard margin in franchise history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Lions running backs Reggie Bush (182) and Joique Bell (128) both finished with more yards from scrimmage than the entire Packers offense.

The yardage discrepancy was especially evident in the rushing game. The Lions finished with 241 rushing yards, the Packers had 24 and were held without a rushing first down for the first time since 1990. Lions rushers were hit in the backfield twice on 40 designed rushes. On the other side, Packers rushers were hit in the backfield on five of their 13 designed rushes.

Much like the rushing game, the Lions pass rush was excellent, recording seven sacks on Matt Flynn, including one for a safety. Only two teams have recorded more sacks in a game this season than the Lions today: the Chiefs (nine vs. the Raiders in Week 6) and the Jets (eight vs. the Bills in Week 3).

Of course, Lions WR Calvin Johnson was his usual self, with 101 receiving yards and a touchdown. He has caught a touchdown in five straight and six of his seven career Thanksgiving Day games. It’s his seventh 100-yard receiving game of the season, most in the NFL, although Jimmy Graham and A.J. Green could match him this week.

Detroit picked up the win despite four turnovers, becoming the first team to win by at least 30 despite having four or more turnovers since the 2001 Rams, who beat the Panthers by 34 even with four turnovers. Those Rams finished 14-2 and went to the Super Bowl.

Turnovers have been a problem for the Lions all season long, as a -1 turnover differential Thursday dropped them to -8 on the season. But a team making the playoffs despite a turnover differential that bad isn’t unprecedented by any means.

Each of the last three seasons, at least one team with a turnover differential of -8 or worse has made the playoffs, including the Indianapolis Colts last season (-12). However, none of those teams advanced past the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

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