DETROIT – The Detroit Lions and their fans finally can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.
A nine-year losing streak in the annual holiday game at Ford Field ended Thursday with a 40-10 rout of the sinking Green Bay Packers, who couldn't turn four Lions turnovers into a badly needed road win.
Matthew Stafford rebounded from his early errors and threw three touchdown passes as the Lions (7-5) avoided a third straight loss and took a half-game lead in the NFC North standings over the Chicago Bears (6-5), who visit the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
The Packers (5-6-1) failed to win for the fifth consecutive game since quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone against the Bears on Nov. 4 – and their latest fill-in starter might have turned in the worst performance yet.
Matt Flynn was 10-of-20 passing for 139 yards and took seven sacks for the Packers, who scored a defensive touchdown to take a 10-7 lead in the second quarter and were only down seven at halftime before Detroit broke open the game.
The Lions finished with massive edges in yards (561-126), first downs (30-7) and time of possession (40:26-19:34) in a pivotal game after their losses to Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay the previous two weeks.
They hadn't won on Thanksgiving since Nov. 27, 2003, also against the Packers. They hadn't scored 40 points on Thanksgiving since a 55-20 win over the Bears in 1997.
Rodgers, who was spotted slinging passes more than 50 yards during a pregame throwing session, could be back as soon as the Packers' next game Dec. 8 against the Atlanta Falcons. But that might be too late to save Green Bay's four-year playoff streak.
The Packers have started three quarterbacks since Rodgers' injury – Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien (twice) and Flynn, who never seemed in rhythm as Detroit's talented front applied the pressure.
The Lions racked up 159 yards on their first two drives of the game. But they scored just three points, thanks to a Reggie Bush fumble at the hands of Clay Matthews and a 27-yard David Akers field goal after a third-down incompletion for tight end Brandon Pettigrew in the end zone.
Mason Crosby tied the score with a 54-yard field goal on the ensuing drive. Eight seconds later, Packers linebacker Nick Perry beat tackle Riley Reiff around the edge to strip Stafford as he tried to pass, and safety Morgan Burnett scooped the fumble at the 1 for a touchdown.
Boos rained down then and again after Tramon Williams intercepted Stafford to end the Lions' next series – Green Bay's third take-away in a little more than 20 minutes after recording 10 total in the season's first 11 games. But the Packers' offense couldn't take advantage.
Their next three drives all went three-and-out, netting minus-11 yards combined, while the Lions scored on their next two possessions: a 5-yard touchdown to Jeremy Ross and a 1-yard TD run by Reggie Bush. Akers' 31-yard field goal miss left it a 17-10 Detroit lead at halftime.
The Packers opened the second half with another three-and-out, Stafford marched the Lions down the field again and Calvin Johnson plowed over Burnett to complete a 20-yard touchdown catch that made it 24-10.
Ndamukong Suh sacked Flynn for a safety and Joique Bell punched in a 1-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter that turned the game into a rout.
It also pushed one Packers player over the edge. Cornerback Tramon Williams, who earlier had kicked at a Lions player from the ground, shoved an official in the back after Bell's score and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Kevin Ogletree's one-handed catch for a 20-yard touchdown capped the scoring with 4:17 to go, and Flynn lost a fumble in the red zone with 1:08 to go to cap the misery.