The Green Bay Packers overcame a slow start to keep their perfect NFL season intact with a 27-15 win over the Detroit Lions on Thursday that spoilt yet another Motor City Thanksgiving Day.
Two of the NFL's most explosive offences produced few fireworks early on but the Packers made the Lions pay for their mistakes by turning three Matthew Stafford interceptions into two touchdowns and a field goal.
"I felt it was an excellent character win for us," said the Packers head coach, Mike McCarthy. "It was a tough day for both teams... we knew it was going to be a physical, aggressive game. The stadium was electric."
The biggest blunder of the day belonged to the Lions defensive end Ndamukong Suh as the second pick in the 2010 NFL Draft was ejected for a personal foul that set up a John Kuhn touchdown that swung the NFC North encounter in Green Bay's favour.
The Packers, who entered the contest averaging a NFL-best 35 points a game, managed just 44 yards of total offence in a scoreless opening quarter but Aaron Rodgers was soon back on target, tossing for 307 yards, including touchdowns to Greg Jennings and James Jones.
The rout marked another disappointing start to the holidays for Detroit as the Lions (7-4) absorbed their eighth straight Thanksgiving Day loss. The Packers, however, are on a 17-game winning streak that includes last season's Super Bowl run.
The last time an unbeaten team played on Thanksgiving was in 1962, when the Packers paid a visit to the Lions and were handed their only loss of the season.
An excited crowd filled Ford Field hoping to witness a repeat of that upset of nearly half a century ago. But as Detroit self-destructed, the champions seized their chances, Clay Matthews intercepting Stafford's tipped pass in the second quarter and returning it to the Lions' 13-yard line, where Rodgers promptly hit Jennings to go up 7-0.
The Packers opened the scoring in the second half with a 77-yard drive, kept alive when Suh was ejected for stomping on the arm of Green Bay's lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith, setting up a one-yard touchdown plunge by John Kuhn.
"I understand in this world, because of the type of player and type of person I am, all eyes are on me," said Suh, who has earned a reputation as one of the NFL's dirtiest players. "So why would I do something to jeopardise myself and jeopardise my team? I don't do bad things and I have no intention to hurt somebody."
The Lions never recovered from Suh's gaffe as the Packers put the game out of reach. Keiland Williams and Calvin Johnson scored consolation touchdowns, but the Lions never threatened a comeback as the Packers improved to 11-0 for the first time in franchise history. With five more wins Green Bay would become only the second team to win all 16 games of their regular season.