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Patriots give thanks for 20-12 win

Detroit – It might have been Thanksgiving, but this one was anything but a classic. Turnovers, penalties and squandered opportunities marked the contest but for the Patriots, at least the game wasn’t a complete turkey.



             Detroit – It might have been Thanksgiving, but this one was anything but a classic. Turnovers, penalties and squandered opportunities marked the contest but for the Patriots, at least the game wasn't a complete turkey. They'll take the 20-12 win and keep the playoff pace with a 7-5 record.  

In fact, the drive of the day may have been the one that ended the game, a 9:46, 17-play sequence by the Patriots that kept the Lions off the field and from any chance of a comeback.

On the day, Troy Brown led all receivers with 10 catches for 111 yards. Meanwhile, the Patriots ground game ran the ball 38 times for 139 yards, a big part of why they were able to keep the ball for 35:00 of the game. Tom Brady was 18 of 30 for 210 yards and an interception, while his counterpart, Joey Harrington, also had 210 yards on 22 of 44 passing, but his three first half interceptions were key to the Lions loss.

Both Tedy Bruschi and Richard Seymour got banged up in the first half and did not return to the game in the second half.



             As they have in their last two games, the Patriots broke onto the scoreboard with their first possession, a 62-yard, 10-play drive that ended with a Vinatieri 31-yard field goal. A nice run by Marc Edwards for 17 yards up the middle put New England on the Lions 17-yard line. Earlier in the drive, Patten took a ball off his shoe tops that was tipped in the air for a 28-yard pickup.  

And also like it has recently, the defense continued to come up large. On Detroit's first play of the game, Joey Harrington threw incomplete on a pass broken up by Ted Johnson and then Harrington tried his luck again over the middle. This time Tedy Bruschi made an outstanding stab at the ball, came up with the interception, and took it into the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown return.

Just like that, the Patriots were out in front 10-0 with only 5:16 worth of time off the clock.

The Lions made some noise on their next try. Starting at its own 19, Detroit put together a nice drive that included a reverse to Eddie Drummond for 23 yards and a 20-yard hook-up of Harrington and Germane Crowell. Two New England penalties helped the Lions cause. The first negated a nice third and 1 stop by Ted Johsnon. New England escaped giving up six points when, on third and 3 from the 4, Harrington overthrew Mikhael Ricks in the end zone. Jason Hanson came on to boot a 21-yard field goal and Detroit moved within seven at 10-3.

The Patriots closed the first quarter proceedings by almost taking the Lions kickoff all the way. Detroit was penalized and New England elected to have them re-kick from the 25. Branch took the second try and made a nice move to find a lane in the middle of the field. He got past the kicker but in doing so, lost just enough of his balance to allow the Lions special teamers to catch up. Still, the Patriots were down to the Lions 32.

Some nice downhill running by Smith moved the ball down to the 19 but then the turnover bug bit. Brady looked across his body to Patten but Chris Cash stepped in front and Detroit had the ball back on its own 27.

Despite negating the Branch return and a red zone opportunity for the Patriots, the turnover did not translate into Detroit points as the New England defense held the Lions to five plays and 16 yards.

But momentum seemed to shift Detroit's way when New England attempted to punt on fourth and 8 from the Lions 48. Ken Walter was swarmed and the kick was blocked. New England recovered on its own 36.

On second down, James Stewart broke into the Lions secondary for 21 yards down to the 15. On the very next play, however, Harrington, rolling to his right, felt the heat of Anthony Pleasant from behind and threw his second interception of the day, this one to Willie McGinest. What started as a one-sided affair had turned into a pendulum of possessions and missed opportunities.

The Patriots could not take advantage once again and punted, and once again, the Lions could do no better. With just over four minutes left in the first half, Harrington threw away his third ball from his own 21 with Bobby Hamilton the recipient. From the Detroit 18, Brady hit Faulk for 18 yards and two plays later, Antowain Smith took it in from the 1 and the Patriots had a two-touchdown lead at 17-3.

Detroit moved the ball down the field inside of two minutes left in the half and inside the Patriots red zone. A holding called pushed them back to the 27 and Harrington's third and 20 incomplete pass from the 27 forced a 45-yard field goal attempt from Hanson. He made it, moving the Lions to within 11 and himself as the No. 1 all-time point-scorer in Lions history, passing Eddie Murray.

The half ended with the score Patriots 17, Lions 6.

An extended drive of 13 plays and 64 yards gave the Lions the first points of the second half. After passing his way from the Detroit 16, Harrington hit Larry Foster for 21 yards to move down to the Patriots 24 but Mike Vrabel tipped a third and 7 pass and Hanson came on for a 39-yard field goal which he made.



             New England answered. The third quarter ended with the Patriots driving and on the Lions 13. Two big passes to Troy Brown for 14 and 24 yards was part of the reason but the Patriots also chose to pound the ball. Smith for 10. Edwards for 4. Smith for 5 and then 6. Faulk for 7. But on third and 4 from the 7, Damien Woody was called for a false start and on third and 9, Brady dropped back to pass and nearly threw up an interception as Todd Lyght tried for the pick in the corner of the end zone but was ruled out of bounds. At that point, New England was happy to settle for a Vinatieri 29-yard field goal to go up 20-9.  

Detroit made it a touchdown and 2-point conversion game with a 46-yard field goal. New England could have prevented even that but on third and 16, Harrington found Bill Schroeder for 23 yards to move the chains to the Patriots 32. Good pressure on Harrington at that point kept Detroit from moving much closer.

New England put the stuffing in the turkey with its subsequent drive that began with 9:46 left in the game. Four penalties, two on each team, symbolized the rough edges of this game, but the Patriots managed to find its way from its own 18 down to the Lions 12. More importantly, they did so while also completely running out the clock. The game ended with a Brady knee.

The Patriots get the weekend off and then will prepare for the Buffalo Bills and the return of Drew Bledsoe to New England next Sunday.

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