It took a little over 30 minutes before the Patriots realized that they were playing a game, but when they figured it out, they dominated the Detroit Lions to pull off a 45-24 win. The two halves of the game were like two completely different games. During the first half, the Lions beat up the Patriots. Tom Brady was hit several times while the defense was carved up by Shaun Hill. The Lions had 195 total offensive yards while the Pats had 156. The Lions got 15 first downs to the Patriots’ 8, and they also converted 57% of their third downs. They led on the ground as well, rushing for 69 yards while the Pats ran for 20 less yards. At the end of the first half, a 44 yd. field goal by Dave Rayner as time expired gave the Lions a 17-10 lead. After the halftime festivities, it was a whole different game.
The Patriots’ first drive of the second half went for four plays and then they punted. On the ensuing Lions’ drive, things started to go the Patriots’ way. Shaun Hill was intercepted by rookie Devin McCourty, which led to a Brady-to-Wes Welker 5-yard touchdown pass, tying up the score 17-17. The Lions roared back and scored another touchdown, taking back the lead, 24-17. Then it was all Patriots. Brady threw a 79-yd. TD pass to Deion Branch, a play in which Branch juked CB Alphonso Smith 3 or 4 times on his way to the endzone.
After a Dave Rayner field goal miss, Brady hooked up with Branch again for 22-yd. touchdown. Then he hit Welker for a 16-yd. touchdown and after another McCourty INT, BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for his second touchdown of the day. In total, Brady was 21 of 27 passing for 341 yards, 4 touchdowns, and no interceptions. That’s good enough for a QB rating of 158.3, which is a perfect rating. That is the first perfect QB rating of the 2010 NFL season and Brady’s second of his career. The two main beneficiaries of Brady’s perfect were Wes Welker and Deion Branch. Welker caught 8 passes for 90 yards and 2 touchdowns while Branch caught 3 passes for 113 yards and 2 touchdowns. Gronkowski was also able to snag 5 passes for 65 yards.
Defensively, the team didn’t seem to be awake until the second half. Jerod Mayo led the team with 12 tackles while Gary Guyton and Pierre Woods each had a sack. The player with the best game defensively was easily Devin McCourty, who had 4 tackles and 2 big interceptions. McCourty is really starting to come into his own as a starting corner in the NFL. He now has 5 interceptions on the season, which puts him in a four-way tie for 3rd in the NFL and tied for 1st among rookies (along with Seattle’s Earl Thomas). McCourty is certainly putting himself into the conversation for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Bill Belichick has given the team a 4-day break before they begin to prepare for the New York Jets, who also won on Thanksgiving and are tied with the Pats for the AFC East lead. The Monday Night showdown between the two teams is unquestionably the Game of the Week and could not only determine who will win the AFC East, but also home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in the AFC.