Sixteen times Matthew Stafford has led the Lions on the road against a team with a winning record. Sixteen times Detroit has gone home a loser.
New England improved to 9-2 on the season and extended its win streak to seven games with a dominating 34-9 victory over Stafford and the Lions. Tom Brady led his home squad to a 24-6 halftime advantage against the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL and never looked back.
A week after a season-high 246-yard outburst on the ground in Indy, New England was clearly not looking to run its collective head into the brick wall of the Lions No. 1 rush defense.
The New England Patriots take on the Detroit Lions at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, November 23, 2014.
Instead Brady and the air attack got back into the flow. Brady had a pair of first-half touchdowns to a virtually uncovered Tim Wright and LeGarrette Blount added a ground score on his first carry in his return to New England to build the advantage at the break.
On the flipside, Stafford never got much going through air, causing some Detroit writers to wonder aloud in the press box at halftime if it was the quarterback's "worst performance of the year" through 30 minutes.
Things didn't get much more impressive for the Lions passing attack in the second half, as Darrelle Revis and the Patriots secondary dominated Detroit. Stafford finished completing just 18 of 46 passes for 264 yards with no touchdowns and one interception for a 49.5 rating.
New England was able to throw extra defensive backs at the Detroit targets because the run defense was doing its job, holding Joique Bell to just 48 yards on 19 attempts. That made the Lions one-dimensional and not successful.
Offensively it wasn't perfect, but it was very productive as Brady tossed for 349 yards by completing 38 of 53 throws with the two scores and one interception for a 94.0 rating.
The Patriots have now scored 34 or more points in four straight games and six of the last seven. The defense has taken on plenty of different challenges in the passing game and dealt with them adeptly for more than a month.
New England's stars like Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Revis and Brandon Browner are making plays to win games. New faces like Akeem Ayers and Blount are rolling too.
The complementary plays like Ryan Allen's 66-yard field-flipping punt and Danny Amendola's long kick return have been a big boost.
The Patriots are now 4-0 in a six-game stretch of supposedly difficult games that was going to theoretically define the team and test its mettle. If that's the case, then this New England squad is rounding into form quite nicely heading down the stretch.
Now it's on to Green Bay and a two-game road trip against the Packers and then the Chargers.
But first here's a look at some of the good and the bad from the Patriots taming of the Lions on a beautiful fall day in Foxborough:
Darrelle Revis/Brandon Browner – The Lions entered the game with two real weapons in the passing game and the New England corners made sure that Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate didn't get things rolling through the air. Revis primarily matched up with Tate, while Browner bodied up to Johnson. Revis was dead on in coverage all day, regardless of the guy he was left to work against. He knocked away a touchdown against Johnson in the end zone, one of his team-high four of New England nine passes defensed on the day. Browner did his work on the back side, keeping Stafford from really even throwing toward Johnson. He was a physical presence and probably had his best game in his short Patriots career. New England's veteran corners are really rounding into form.
Brandon LaFell** – LaFell has become a comfortable weapon for Brady, especially when he's starting drives and games. The bigger receiver caught nine of the 12 passes of the day thrown his way for 98 yards. He also got behind the secondary on a would-be deep ball that was just out of his reach. LaFell has become a true complementary option, and maybe even more than that, for the Patriots passing attack.
Tim Wright – Nobody makes touchdowns look easier that Wright. Of course it helps when you are not covered. Twice the Lions seemingly lost track of the tight end and allowed him to just wait in the end zone for an easy touchdown from Brady. Certainly his being that open is a product of some of his teammates, including Rob Gronkowski, but Wright takes advantage of his chances to put up points, among his five catches for 36 yards.
Jonas Gray** – A week after rushing for 201 yards and a franchise-record four rushing touchdowns, Gray found himself watching from the sideline. The young back reportedly overslept and missed practice on Friday, so it's quite possible the Sports Illustrated cover boy was being disciplined in his DNPCD. He spent the day standing on the sideline next to his teammates and coaches.
Flags – On a day when the pre-game Salute to Service ceremony included a trio of oversized American flags, the Patriots kept the flag theme going throughout the game. New England's penalty problem has been pretty consistent all year, especially for a team that's established itself as a true Super Bowl contender. From holding and false starts on offense, driving-extending calls on defense and even multiple infractions on the same kicking plays, the Patriots are just earning too many penalty calls. No question that 11 penalties for 84 yards is not good. It's not costing them right now. And it may never cost them. The Seahawks were the most penalized team in the NFL last season on the way to a Lombardi Trophy. But it's always better to not have penalties than it is to have them. It's something to work on.
Shane Vereen – This was a Vereen-type day and yet the passing back wasn't great. Vereen rushed for just 12 yards on eight carries, with 9 coming on his long run. Vereen did catch eight passes for 48 yards. He wasn't on the same page with Brady on an early swing pass to the left side. On a day when a lot was working for the Patriots in all three phases, Vereen earns a spot here on what would probably be accurately described as nitpicking an impressive win.