Patriots abuse Lions' top-ranked defence
Patriots’ Tom Brady celebrates a touchdown with LeGarrette Blount, who re-joined the team earlier this week. (USA TODAY SPORTS)
The Detroit Lions came into Foxboro Sunday for a heavyweight tilt.
They left, exposed as lightweights, by a New England Patriots’ team that controlled every aspect of the day in winning their seventh consecutive game, 34-9.
Detroit came in with the league’s stingiest defence. The Patriots had the league’s hottest offence.
The Lions never laid a finger on Tom Brady, who dropped back 53 times, completing 38 passes for 348 yards. New England had 29 first downs. So much for that theory about good defence beating good offence. The Patriots, the NFL’s highest-scoring team, showed they could do whatever it takes to exploit a defence.
The Lions lost more than a game. They also lost the division lead. Green Bay, with a 24-21 win over Minnesota, now hold a one-game lead in the NFC North.
Detroit’s offence continues to be its biggest albatross. It has failed to score a touchdown in 22 consecutive possessions and the frustration was evident in the body language during and after the game. They came into the game averaging just 17 points a game and it only got worse. Darrelle Revis, combined with Brandon Browner’s physicallity, neutralized Calvin Johnson. And with Reggie Bush sidelined a fifth game, Detroit’s ground game continued to be a non-factor. Meantime, Matthew Stafford was continually pressured, completing just 35% of his passes. Even when he was putting passes into small openings, his receivers — other than one catch by Johnson — were unable to come up with the big reception.
”We missed some opportunities to make some big plays, got behind the chains a couple times, some untimely penalties, a couple sacks, a couple negative plays,” Stafford said.
Meantime, the Patriots after going three-and-out on two consecutive series for the first time this sesason to start the game, came to life; Brady leading them to a 24-6 halftime lead.
On the ground LeGarrette Blount, released by Pittsburgh, made himself at home running for 78 yards, with two touchdowns.
“He was a big difference today. He’s a big guy, made some big plays ... really can run downhill and that makes him difficult to tackle,” Brady said.
In the air, Tim Wright had two touchdowns and the Pats torched Detroit for 439 total yards against a defence that came into the game allowing a league-best 290 yards a game.
The Pats dominated even on special teams, with Danny Amendola setting up a TD on an 81-yard return.
Until Sunday, Detroit had not allowed more than 24 points in a game. Brady had that many in 30 minutes as the Patriots made Ndamukong Suh & Co. invisible.
It started promising enough for Detroit with a couple completions to Golden Tate, but as so often has happened the drive bogged down, they settled for a field goal and the injury bug struck again, with left tackle Riley Reiff limping off.
“That’s challenging anytime you lose your left tackle, especially a guy that’s playing some of his best ball,” Stafford said.
On the next series, linebacker Akeem Ayers sacked Stafford, beating Reiff’s replacement, rookie Cornelius Lucas.
Rob Ninkovich dumped Stafford the next series, then when they did get into the red zone, they were stopped inside the five. Brady got the passing game cranked; a TD pass to Wright, the Amendola kick return, a Blount TD run — and from there it was nothing but Motown blues.
“We’ve just got to find a way to catch some momentum,” Stafford said. “We moved the ball good on the first drive and didn’t get a conversion on that third down and kicked a field goal. Had a chance, first-and-goal and don’t get it in. You play a good team like New England, the whole team has to play well, and we didn’t.”
PACKERS RISING UP
Eddie Lacy laid a bruising on the Vikings, his power-running and two touchdowns propelling the Packers into first place in the NFC North.
Lacy had 125 yards on 25 rushes. Lacy scored twice, on a run in the first quarter and a catch in the fourth quarter.
When Teddy Bridgewater hit Greg Jennings on a crossing pattern for a two-point conversion, bringing the Vikings within three points, Lacy pounded through the line for two first downs to run out the clock.
The Lions still hold the tie-breaker, which sets up a potential battle in Week 17, between them and the Packers.
T.Y. Hilton spent the morning hours in hospital as his wife gave birth to a baby girl.
Then, like the tale of Babe Ruth promising to hit a homer for a hospitalized boy, Hilton promised he would catch a touchdown pass to celebrate his new daughter.
A couple hours later he was cradling the ball like a baby in the end zone — one of four passes he caught in the Colts 23-3 win over Jacksonville.
The Lions said the box office would be open for five hours Sunday for fans to pick up free tickets for Monday’s Bills’ game. All 500 were gone within 10 minutes. Scalpers were soon asking up to $125 a ticket just outside the stadium. “This ain’t a free game, man,” one scalper said. It’s called capitalism. Or greed. Your choice ... The Packers improved to 14-4-1 with five season sweeps against the Vikings under coach Mike McCarthy, including 9-1-1 in the past 11 games ... Arian Foster (groin), third in the NFL in rushing, was inactive for the Texans. Rookie Alfred Blue ran for 46 yards filling in for the second consecutive game ... Bengals right tackle Andre Smith injured his left arm in the first quarter and didn’t return.