Stafford throws 5 TD passes, Lions beat Eagles 45-14

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Matthew Stafford and Mitch Albom Transform Lipke Rec Center in Detroit


DETROIT (AP) -- Matthew Stafford dropped back and perfectly lofted the ball where only Calvin Johnson could catch it.

Johnson leaped to come down with the 25-yard pass in the end zone for the first of a career-high matching three touchdown receptions, Stafford tied a personal best with five scoring passes, and the surging Detroit Lions kept the Philadelphia Eagles reeling with a 45-14 rout Thursday.

"When we're on point like that, it's hard to stop," Johnson said.

The Lions (4-7) have won three straight since firing their team president and general manager, and three in a row in their annual Thanksgiving game.

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Detroit ran for 108 yards, tied a season high with six sacks and Matt Prater made a 48-yard field goal.

"That's as complete a victory as we've had since we've been here," said Jim Caldwell, who won 11 games last season in his first year as Detroit's coach.

The Eagles (4-7) have lost three straight. They have allowed at least 45 points in two straight games in one season for the first time, according to STATS, and have lost by at least 28 points in consecutive games for the first time since 1971.

"We all take accountability," coach Chip Kelly said. "I'm a coach, not a player, so it starts with me. I'm not pointing fingers at anybody, and I don't think anybody points fingers at anybody."

Stafford threw for more than 200 yards and three touchdowns without a turnover by halftime for the second time in his career, according to STATS, to help the Lions lead 24-7. He finished 27 of 38 for 337 yards and threw five TDs for the fourth time in his career.

THANKSGIVING FOOTBALL HEROES:

10 PHOTOS
NFL Thanksgiving Heroes
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Stafford throws 5 TD passes, Lions beat Eagles 45-14

10.) Troy Aikman vs. Minnesota Vikings

Aikman’s Cowboys got into a shootout with the Vikings in 1998, but his team would be the one to go down to the score of 46-36.

There were tons of impressive stat lines on this Thanksgiving day – one of which will be later mentioned  on this list – and Aikman himself completed 34-57 passes for 455 yards and one touchdown. It’s a shame he couldn’t have added a touchdown or two more, because that would have put him higher up. However, the 455 yards is still an impressive feat and still stands as the Thanksgiving passing record.

(AP Photo/Tim Sharp)

9.) Sterling Sharpe vs. Dallas Cowboys

The Green Bay Packers got bested 42-31 by the Cowboys in 1994, but it was a person on the losing team that stole the show.

Packers wide receiver Sterling Sharpe dominated the game to the tune of nine catches for 122 yards and four touchdowns.

As if his day wasn’t impressive enough, the Packers as a team had only 277 yards of total offense, so Sharpe himself accounted for nearly half their offense.

It’s a shame his effort wasn’t good enough for a win.

(Photo by James V. Biever/Getty Images)

8.) Earl Campbell vs. Dallas Cowboys

The Houston Oilers and the Cowboys had the battle of Texas on Thanksgiving in 1979, and the two teams were both powerhouses at the time.

Campbell was the backbone for the Oilers, and on this day he turned 33 carries into 195 yards and two touchdowns.

Houston went on to beat Dallas 30-24 in one of the more exciting Thanksgiving games.

(AP Photo/Wally Fong)

7.) Barry Sanders vs. Chicago Bears

It probably speaks to Sanders’ greatness that this performance isn’t higher up on the list.

In 1977, Sanders’ Detroit Lions annihilated the Bears 55-20.

While the game itself didn’t look that entertaining, Sanders put on a side show on his own when he rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns.

It was just another day at the office for one of the game’s greats.

(MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images)

6.) Walter Stanley vs. Detroit Lions

I hope you’re not tired of seeing the Packers and Lions already.

In 1986, Stanley’s Packers and the Lions had an amazing battle that went down to the very end.

Stanley finished for four grabs for 124 yards and two touchdowns, and while that would have been a good day on its own, it was what he did on special teams that has him on this list.

With just 41 seconds left, Stanley returned a punt 83 yards for the go-ahead score and the Packers would go on to win 44-40.

(Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)

5.) Bob Griese vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Griese only had 16 touchdown passes in his other 13 starts in 1977, so I’m not sure if even he was expecting this type of performance from himself.

On this day, Griese’s Miami Dolphins scored a Thanksgiving record of 55 points in their blowout win over the Cardinals.

The game might have been a bit boring if it wasn’t for Griese’s six touchdown passes, which set the Thanksgiving record for touchdown passes thrown. He also had 207 yards and one interception.

That record is now shared with someone else, and I think he might be coming up soon.

(AP Photo)

4.) Tony Romo vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2006 was the year the world got introduced to Romo, and he made sure everyone knew who his name was after his first, of many, Thanksgiving performances.

The Cowboys beat the Buccaneers 38-10, but it was Romo’s performance that everyone was talking about.

In just his fifth career start, Romo completed 22-29 passes for 306 yards and five touchdowns.

It was an incredible performance and remains to be one of Romo’s best games.

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

3.) Peyton Manning vs. Detroit Lions

Before 2013 happened, 2004 was the huge statistical season for Mr. Manning – and this game might have been his best performance of the year.

Manning’s Colts beat the Lions 41-9, and if it looks like a really easy win, it’s because Manning made it that way.

The future Hall of Fame quarterback completed 23-28 passes for 236 yards and six touchdowns.

The six touchdowns is tied with Griese’s for the most thrown on Thanksgiving, and it was a career-best for Manning until he threw for seven in 2013.

(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

2.) Randy Moss vs. Dallas Cowboys

Remember the Aikman game that started off the list? Here’s the other performance that I foreshadowed.

1998 was Moss’ rookie season, but he wasn’t paying like a rookie.

Wait, maybe he was – I mean the Cowboys held him to only three catches.

Oh,but all three of those catches went for touchdowns, huh?

AND they combined for 163 yards?!?

That’s right, Moss had an insane day with 163 yards and three touchdowns on three catches, and he appeared to be the difference in the 46-36 win for the Vikings.

It was said that Moss was mad that the Cowboys had passed on him, and he wanted to make them regret that decision.

At least on that day, I’d say mission accomplished.

(AP Photo/Tim Sharp)

1.) O.J. Simpson vs. Detroit Lions

In 1976, O.J. Simpson put on one of the greatest rushing performances of all-time against the Lions.

Simpson had 29 carries for 273 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-14 loss.

The 273 yards was the most Simpson ever ran for in his career, and it is still the sixth-best rushing game of all-time.

It’s a shame it had to come in a loss, but I’m not going to fault Simpson on this once since he did everything he could have done.

(AP Photo/File)

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"Our quarterback is comfortable in this offense," Caldwell said. "And when that happens, it gives you opportunities for your playmakers to do things."

Johnson had eight catches for 93 yards and three TDs, matching his career high set in 2010.

After not throwing to Johnson much early in the game, Stafford started connecting with the star receiver. The Eagles couldn't do much about it, especially when starting cornerback Nolan Carroll left in the second quarter with a broken right ankle and was replaced by rookie Eric Rowe.

"At the end of the first quarter, I realized we hadn't gotten 81 the ball yet, so we dialed up some plays for him," Stafford said. "We started getting aggressive, and that opened up a couple routes for him."

The quarterback seems to be clicking with plays called by offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, who replaced the fired Joe Lombardi a month ago.

"I love that he's so aggressive," Stafford said. "That rubs off on the players because it is fun when he's giving you chances to make big plays."

Taking advantage of Johnson in one-on-one coverage, Stafford threw 4- and 3-yard TD passes to Johnson in the third quarter.

"We're attacking the defense, and not playing defense on offense," Johnson said.

Stafford started the scoring barrage with an 8-yard pass to Theo Riddick, who made a sharp move to the inside to get away from linebacker Mychal Kendricks late in the opening quarter. Stafford threw a go-ahead, 2-yard TD midway through the second quarter to Golden Tate, who lined up as a fullback and went to the flat where he caught the ball and stopped, letting safety Walter Thurmond run past him.

Mark Sanchez started in place of Sam Bradford, who was inactive with a shoulder injury. Sanchez completed 19 of 27 passes for 199 yards and two TDs. He connected with Brent Celek early in the second quarter on a 2-yard pass to help Philadelphia pull into a 7-all tie and with Jordan Matthews for a relatively meaningless, 24-yard TD late in the game.

Sanchez was able to connect with receivers when he had time, but that didn't happen very often.

Detroit's Ezekiel Ansah had a career-high 3 1/2 sacks, one of which forced a fumble by Sanchez that the defensive end recovered.

"That guy's got a serious grip - rigor mortis or something," Sanchez said.

NOTES: Eagles WR Josh Huff was evaluated for a concussion during the game. ... Lions S Glove Quin left the game with an injured left ankle, which he was protecting with a walking boot. ... The game was stopped briefly in the fourth quarter when people ran onto the field with a banner promoting animal liberation.

UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS:

32 PHOTOS
nfl rankings 11/16
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Stafford throws 5 TD passes, Lions beat Eagles 45-14

32. Cleveland Browns (2-8)

Last week: 31

(AP Photo/Don Wright)

31. Tennessee Titans (2-7)

Last week: 29

(AP Photo/James Kenney)

30. San Diego Chargers (2-7)

Last week: 28

(AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

29. San Francisco 49ers (3-6)

Last week: 27

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

28. Dallas Cowboys (2-7)

Last week: 26

(AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

27. Baltimore Ravens (2-7)

Last week: 21

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

26. Detroit Lions (2-7)

Last week: 31

(AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6)

Last week: 31

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

24. New Orleans Saints (3-6)

Last week: 18

(AP Photo/Mark Tenally)

23. Chicago Bears (4-5)

Last week: 25

(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

22. St. Louis Rams (4-5)

Last week: 16

(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

21. Washington Redskins (4-5)

Last week: 23

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

20. Houston Texans (4-5)

Last week: 24

(AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

19. Indianapolis Colts (4-5)

Last week: 17

(AP Photo/AJ Mast)

18. Miami Dolphins (4-5)

Last week: 20

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5)

Last week: 19

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

16. Kansas City Chiefs (4-5)

Last week: 22

(AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

15. Oakland Raiders (4-5)

Last week: 14

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

14. Philadelphia Eagles (4-5)

Last week: 13

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

13. Seattle Seahawks (4-5)

Last week: 10

(AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

12. New York Jets (5-4)

Last week: 8

 (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

11. Buffalo Bills (5-4)

Last week: 16

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

10. New York Giants (5-4)

Last week: 12

(AP Photo/Gary Hershorn)

9. Atlanta Falcons (6-2)

Last week: 9

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

8. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4)

Last week: 11

(AP Photo/Don Wright)

7. Green Bay Packers (6-3)

Last week: 6

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

6. Minnesota Vikings (6-3)

Last week: 7

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

5. Denver Broncos (7-2)

Last week: 4

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

4. Cincinnati Bengals (8-1)

Last week: 2

(AP Photo/Frank Victores)

3. Arizona Cardinals (7-2)

Last week: 5

(AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

2. Carolina Panthers (9-0)

Last week: 3

(AP Photo/James Kenney)

1. New England Patriots (9-0)

Last week: 1

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

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