Green Bay Packers safety Morgan Burnett runs after recovering a fumble in the first quarter Thursday against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit. Burnett recovered two fumbles in the game. / Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media
The Packers fell to 5-6-1, the first time they’ve been under .500 during the second half of a season since 2008. Their only reasonable hope of earning a postseason berth is to capture the NFC North title. To do that, they would have to run the table against Atlanta, Dallas, Pittsburgh and Chicago to finish 9-6-1, and need the Lions and Bears to lose at least two of their final four games. It’s not a promising picture, but the Packers aren’t dead yet.
The Packers were on the short end of just about every significant statistical category except for turnovers. The Packers produced four takeaways, only the second time in 12 games they forced more than one turnover. Although the Lions dominated the first half, the reason they led only 17-10 was because of costly turnovers. Morgan Burnett scooped up a Matthew Stafford fumble forced by Nick Perry and scored a defensive touchdown in the second quarter and also recovered a Reggie Bush fumble forced by Clay Matthews deep in Packers territory. Tramon Williams and Sam Shields also picked off Stafford passes. The Packers had just 10 takeaways in the first 11 games, so the old saying is true that turnovers come in bunches. But that provided little consolation for the Packers. “The bigger picture is we lost 40-10, so there really is no positive in it,” Burnett said.
The Lions stacked their defense against the run and dared the Packers to pass, and quarterback Matt Flynn wasn’t up to the challenge. He generated just three offensive points in 11 series. The spark Flynn brought to the Packers’ offense last week against Minnesota was gone, and Flynn looked lost and jittery in the pocket against a ferocious Lions defense that produced seven sacks. Flynn’s uneven performance might have showed why Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo gave up on him over the past two seasons. Flynn completed just 10 of 20 passes for 139 yards. He threw one bad interception and posted an awful 51.9 passer rating. The highlight of his day was a 56-yard completion to James Jones during garbage time in the final 2 minutes, but on the next play, Flynn fumbled the snap and gave away any chance for an offensive touchdown. “That’s probably one of the worst games I’ve ever been a part of,” Flynn said. “Didn’t get in a rhythm. It was unacceptable out there.” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he never considered pulling Flynn. “I didn’t really feel Matt had a lot of great opportunities, frankly,” McCarthy said. “It wasn’t just one person’s problem today.”
9: Lions’ losing streak on Thanksgiving that was broken. Before Thursday’s 40-10 victory, the Lions’ last win on Turkey Day came in 2003, 22-14 against the Packers.
■ 61: Total yards generated by the Packers’ offense prior to their final possession, when they picked up 65 yards.
■ 561: Lions’ total yards, the highest total yielded by the Packers this season.
■24: Packers’ season-low rushing yards
The Packers trailed by only a touchdown at halftime despite the Lions holding a huge edge in total yards (340 to 43) and first downs (17 to 3). The potential to make some adjustments and rally in the second half was there. “We still had a one-score game at that point and were very optimistic,” Flynn said. But the Packers showed nothing after intermission. They took the second-half kickoff and promptly went backwards on an 8-yard sack loss, were forced to punt and watched helplessly as the Lions drove 63 yards in nine plays for a touchdown and 24-10 lead. The Packers’ next three third-quarter offensive possessions ended with a fumble by Flynn on a sack, an interception, and a safety on yet another sack. It was apparent by then the Packers had nothing in the tank.
Did you notice?
■ The pass-happy Lions came out running in the first quarter, gaining 69 yards on 11 carries, and proceeded to nearly keep up that pace the entire game. They finished with 241 yards on 43 carries.
■ Flynn twice in the first half didn’t notice an open Andrew Quarless and threw incompletions.
Lane Taylor replaced Marshall Newhouse at right guard early in the fourth quarter. Newhouse had come in for T.J. Lang, who shifted to center when Evan Dietrich-Smith got hurt.