Final, Patriots 45-24: With the short week and a tough group of Lions, the Patriots knew this wasn't going to be an easy game. And they needed five second-half touchdowns to escape Detroit with a victory. The journey wasn't pretty, but a win is a win on a short week on the road. And this sets up the biggest game of the season in 11 days.
Fourth quarter, 1:22, Patriots 45-24: The Lions turned it over on downs in the red zone, and the Patriots will come out in the victory formation.
Fourth quarter, 3:14, Patriots 45-24: BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored a one-yard touchdown to give the Patriots 28 consecutive points, and this thing is getting testy on the field. It started when Lions middle linebacker DeAndre Levy fell late on Tom Brady and threw an elbow into the back of Brady's head at the bottom of a pile, and there have been fights after three consecutive plays.
Fourth quarter, 5:43, Patriots 38-24: Devin McCourty picked off an overthrow from Shaun Hill and returned it to the Detroit 12 to set up the offense in the red zone. Hill's throw sailed past Nate Burleson, and McCourty took advantage of it with his second interception of the day. The rookie actually could have scored if he kept his balance down the sideline before stepping out of bounds.
Fourth quarter, 6:42, Patriots 38-24: Tom Brady hit Wes Welker on a quick pass to the right, and Welker scored from 16 yards out to pad the lead. That was a really solid drive from the Patriots to take care of business. They've had issues with putting teams away in the fourth quarter, but the offense responded here.
Fourth quarter, 11:07, Patriots 31-24: The Patriots caught a break after a poor offensive pass interference penalty on Brandon Pettigrew wiped out a first down, and the Lions had to punt. The Patriots are taking over at their own 16, and they've got to come out and bury the Lions here. Detroit's confidence has to be waning, so the Patriots have to keep their foot on the throat.
Fourth quarter, 13:45, Patriots 31-24: Deion Branch abused Alphonso Smith again, using a double move to get open from the X position. Smith bought Branch's out-route, but Branch brought it back to the middle, took the pass from Brady and scored easily from 22 yards out.
End of third quarter, 24-24: The Patriots are moving again, as the quarter ended with Tom Brady hitting Rob Gronkowski for a 26-yard pass to the Detroit 30. Gronkowski really uses his size well and knows how to position himself in traffic. As he gets better and better, he'll be in Calvin Johnson's level as far as being open even when he's not open.
Third quarter, 1:00, 24-24: There was a whole lot of bend there, but the Patriots didn't break, as Dave Rayner pushed a 46-yard field goal from the left hash. It was actually a pretty poor kick, and now the Patriots have good field position.
Third quarter, 5:12, 24-24: Hopefully Alphonso Smith's family isn't watching this game because the Lions cornerback just got undressed on national television. Deion Branch burnt Smith down the left sideline and hauled in a long pass from Tom Brady, and by the time Smith caught up to Branch, the wide receiver turned him around a couple times and then broke a tackle to score a 79-yard touchdown on third-and-2. Holy cow.
Third quarter, 6:50, 24-17: The Lions salvaged a terrible third-and-goal play by surprisingly going for it on fourth down from the 1-yard line. I'm not a fan of long-winded plays on short-yardage situations, but the misdirection toss to Maurice Morris worked. Give the Lions some credit for having a good offensive scheme, but at the same time, the Patriots look bad on defense in this one.
Third quarter, 10:58, 17-17: Tom Brady hooked up with Wes Welker for a five-yard touchdown, as Brady's pass found Welker in the left flat, and Welker fought through a tackle to reach the end zone. The Patriots capitalized quickly, needing only four plays to travel 26 yards after Devin McCourty's spectacular interception.
Third quarter, 13:06, Lions 17-10: Devin McCourty is one special player, and he just ripped off a beautiful interception. McCourty snagged the ball at its highest point, leaping in front of Calvin Johnson to record his fourth interception, and he returned it to the Detroit 26. Amazing stuff.
Third quarter, 14:08, Lions 17-10: It was more of the same from the Patriots, who failed to generate anything substantial with their initial possession of the second half. After picking up a first down on their first play, Tom Brady got blown up just before releasing the ball on a flee-flicker, Brandon Tate got knocked off the ball on a screen pass and Brady misfired on a long pass to a very wide-open Deion Branch down the right sideline. Detroit takes over at its own 11 after a good punt from Zoltan Mesko.
Third quarter, 14:53, Lions 17-10: Brandon Tate returned the second-half kickoff to the New England 24-yard line, and the Patriots will try to erase this deficit. As poorly as the Patriots played in the first half, they've got to feel fortunate to only be trailing by seven points.
Halftime, Lions 17-10: That was a poor ending to the half by the Patriots' defense, which let the Lions move 41 yards on seven plays, and Dave Rayner kicked a 44-yard field goal as time expired. The most egrigious error came on Detroit's last offensive play, when Jerod Mayo let Nate Burleson run uncovered through the middle of the zone defense, and the wideout picked up 20 yards to set up Rayner with two seconds to go.
It's pretty amazing that Shaun Hill is having success so far. I like his fight and his intangibles, but Hill can't make many throws. Yet, he's completed 15-of-22 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. A good chunk of his completions have been on check-downs in the flat, but the Patriots have let some receivers slip through coverage more as the game has progressed.
Second quarter, 0:45, Lions 14-10: That was the exact type of drive the Patriots needed before halftime, as they punched the ball into the end zone and left little time on the clock for the Lions. BenJarvus Green-Ellis capped off the 10-play drive with a rock-solid 15-yard touchdown run, bulldozing his way through the middle of Detroit's defense. After a very poor set of series, the Patriots can really recapture some momentum by keeping the Lions off the board before the break.
Second quarter, 5:58, Lions 14-3: Well, the Patriots have gotten flat, and the Lions just owned New England's defense on a 13-play, 63-yard drive that was capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Maurice Morris. One play earlier, Shaun Hill snuck for a few inches on a fourth-down conversion. The Patriots had a good start, but the last three possessions — two by Detroit's offense, one by New England's offense — have been completely one-sided in the Lions' favor. The silver lining is the Patriots have plenty of time to put something together here, and they also get the second-half kickoff.
Second quarter, 12:22, Lions 7-3: That was a bad showing for the Patriots' offensive line. Logan Mankins was flagged for a cut block on a play that otherwise would have turned into a first down, and Matt Light got beaten badly twice by Kyle Vanden Bosch. Also, Ndamukong Suh is winning every battle, and the Lions are shifting him all over the line.
End of first quarter, Lions 7-3: Calvin Johnson struck for the first time on the last play of the opening quarter, catching a 19-yard touchdown pass on an intentionally underthrown ball in the front of the end zone. Kyle Arrington was in coverage, but Hill made a good read and Johnson was in perfect placement to make the catch. Hill ran twice for first downs, the first time because Jerod Mayo tried to strip the ball instead of making the tackle on a third down. Later, Hill made those mistakes costly.
First quarter, 5:00, Patriots 3-0: Shayne Graham chipped home a 19-yard field goal — the 200th of his career — to give the Patriots the lead. That was a tough call for the Pats, who faced a fourth-and-a-foot, but they took the early points. It was the conservative call, especially from Bill Belichick, but the Lions have a really solid front-four that could cause some havoc on a short-yardage situation.
First quarter, 9:12, 0-0: The Lions went three-and-out, and they haven't gotten wide receiver Calvin Johnson into the game yet. Good coverage so far by the Patriots' secondary. Julian Edelman had another nice punt return, taking this one back 28 yards to the Detroit 43. So far, this looks infinitely more promising than the dud the Pats laid in Cleveland, and that's a great sign.
First quarter, 10:28, 0-0: Wes Welker dropped a pass on second down, and Tom Brady was sacked on third down, halting a drive that reached midfield. The Lions drew up a good one to get the sack, lining up Ndamukong Suh as a linebacker and sending a heavy blitz. Left tackle Matt Light got pushed out of the pocket, and Suh followed through the open lane to get to Brady, who didn't have much of a chance.
First quarter, 12:11, 0-0: The Patriots' defense held up on the opening drive, and the offense will take over at its own 19 after Julian Edelman's 11-yard punt return. Shaun Hill's lack of throwing power looks like it could be an issue against the Patriots' fast defense, which has really been able to close in on receivers. We'll see if they can jump on some passes as the game goes on.
First quarter, 14:54, 0-0: Stefan Logan returned the opening kickoff to the Detroit 29, and Shaun Hill will bring the Lions onto the field.
12:36 p.m.: The Patriots called tails and won the toss, and they elected to kick off. The Pats' defense will open it up in Detroit.
12:24 p.m.: The Boston Herald has reported Patriots running back Danny Woodhead signed a contract extension through 2012, so that's some good news for the two sides. This also means Woodhead is the only Patriots running back who is locked up after this season.
11:15 a.m.: Common sense has long since indicated Tom Brady would play in this game, but he's active Thursday for a much more practical matter, too. The Patriots only have two quarterbacks on the active roster, and there's no way Brady would have been on the inactive list unless they promoted Jonathan Crompton from the practice squad. Adding to that, because the Patriots didn't promote Crompton, you have to believe Brady is confident he can play the duration of the game against the Lions.
11:02 a.m.: Patriots running back Fred Taylor will play Thursday for the first time since Week 3, and safety Jarrad Page will be back in the lineup after missing five games. Oh, and that Tom Brady guy is going to play, too.
The Patriots released their inactive list, which includes right guard Stephen Neal, tackle Mark LeVoir, defensive lineman Myron Pryor, cornerback Jonathan Wilhite, defensive lineman Mike Wright, offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger, defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick and wide receiver Taylor Price. More details to follow.
7 a.m.: Save the turkey for later. You've got football to worry about right now.
The Patriots and Lions kick off a great day's worth of festivities Thursday at 12:30 p.m. with Detroit's annual Thanksgiving Day bash at Ford Field. It might not be the marquee matchup that Patriots fans have gotten used to over the last couple of months, but this one is every bit as important nonetheless.
That's because the Patriots need a win to ensure next week's showdown with the Jets remains the most significant game of the season.
But there will be no looking ahead for now — not for turkey or apple pie or Gang Green — so keep NESN.com's live blog fresh, as we'll keep your appetite primed throughout the day.
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