Aaron Rodgers matches a career high with three touchdown passes, giving the Packers three straight wins and improving their play-off prospects.
Packers have happy Thanksgiving
DETROIT // Aaron Rodgers matched a career high with three touchdown passes and Green Bay beat the Detroit Lions 34-12 on Thursday, giving the Packers three straight wins and improving their play-off prospects. The Lions lost their sixth straight game on Thanksgiving, setting a franchise record, and had an emotional setback after their biggest comeback win since 1957. Matthew Stafford, playing with a sore non-throwing shoulder, threw one touchdown pass and four interceptions in a rookie-like performance, after passing for five scores in Sunday's win over Cleveland. Detroit trailed the Browns by 21 before coming all the way back. The Lions (2-9) looked like they were building off that momentum by recovering a fumble on the opening kickoff and with Stafford's TD pass to Calvin Johnson. But the Packers (7-4) scored 27 unanswered points in the second and third quarter to turn the game into a familiar rout. Detroit lost its previous five games on Thanksgiving by an average of 23.4 points, and eight of nine in the showcase game. The Lions are 33-35-2 on the holiday since 1934. The Packers have won nine straight against them overall, and coach Mike McCarthy is 8-0 in the suddenly lopsided series. Charles Woodson returned his second interception for a score late in the game and struck a Heisman Trophy pose in the end zone, just as he did in 1997 at Michigan before going on to win the award. Woodson forced and recovered a fumble on the ensuing possession. Rodgers was 28 of 39 for 348 yards and connected with Donald Lee, Donald Driver and James Jones for scores. He has played Detroit four times and those passing totals rank among the top eight in his career. Driver had seven receptions for 142 yards, including a 68-yard catch, and a TD that gave the Packers a 20-7 lead midway through the third quarter. Green Bay played without cornerback Al Harris and linebacker Aaron Kampman, both of whom had season-ending knee injuries in last week's win, and were just fine without them. Stafford was only 20 of 43 yards for 213 yards, and his four interceptions were one fewer than he had earlier this year. He was listed as doubtful for the game because of his shoulder injury, but his decision-making seemed to be more of a problem than his health. Johnson, who was questionable with hand and knee injuries, only had a 9-yard catch to go with his 1-yard score. In Detroit's last game, Stafford broke an NFL rookie record with 422 yards passing and drew praise for playing hurt on the final untimed play. He also became the youngest player to throw five touchdown passes in a game.
At Arlington, Texas, Tony Romo snapped the Dallas Cowboys from their offensive slumber by leading them to a season-high 494 yards, with Miles Austin delivering 145 yards and a touchdown. By winning for the sixth time in seven games, Dallas are guaranteed of going into the final month of the season atop the NFC East. Oakland and their new starting quarterback, Bruce Gradkowski, were coming off a victory over division-leading Cincinnati just a few days before, but couldn't even cross midfield in the first half. The Raiders' lone highlight was top draft pick Darrius Heyward-Bey making the first touchdown catch of his career.
At Denver, Kyle Orton steered six scoring drives, Matt Prater kicked four field goals and safety Brian Dawkins led a ferocious defence as Denver beat New York. Elvis Dumervil dumped Eli Manning twice, extending his NFL-leading sack total to 14. Dumervil's second one came in the fourth quarter and resulted in a fumble that sealed Denver's first win since October 19. Hosting their first Thanksgiving game since 1963 in the American Football League, the Broncos returned to the physical style of play that marked their 6-0 start and ditched the sieve that was their defense during their four-game skid. The Broncos halted their freefall and pulled within a half game of conference leaders San Diego. *AP