Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to an easy win Thursday against the Lions, 27-15.
DETROIT — Aaron Rodgers took every hit the Detroit Lions could dish out.
He just kept throwing — and winning.
Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and the Green Bay Packers built a big lead in the third quarter thanks in part to Ndamukong Suh's ejection during a 27-15 victory in Detroit on Thursday.
Detroit's best chance to beat the Packers was to knock Rodgers out of the game, just as it did last year in a victory that started a nine-game winning streak.
The Lions gave that tactic a shot, hitting him even if he had already gotten rid of the ball. Kyle Vanden Bosch was flagged for one of those late hits and could've drawn another penalty for trying to rough up the star quarterback even more on the same drive.
John Harbaugh beats brother Jim as Ravens clip 49ers
BALTIMORE — John Harbaugh could have gloated. He could have bragged.
Instead, the Baltimore Ravens coach played the role of gracious big brother after he bested Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers 16-6 Thursday night in the first NFL game featuring brothers as opposing head coaches.
The Ravens (8-3) tied a franchise record with nine sacks to end San Francisco's eight-game winning streak.
"To the 49ers and to my brother, I can't tell you enough how proud I am of him and the job he's done building that football team," John said of Jim, a rookie NFL coach. "That's a football team. The way they're built, it's pretty hard to figure out a way to beat them."
John, 49, and Jim, 47, grew up dueling each other in all sorts of games. This, however, was the first time their sibling rivalry was displayed on a national stage.
During the final minute, John got a Gatorade bath from his players — twice. After the game ended, the brothers hugged at midfield.
"There's a saying that says, 'As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another,'" Jim said. "And I have to say my brother John is the sharpest iron I've ever encountered in my life."
The Ravens chased, hindered and battered 49ers quarterback Alex Smith for much of the night despite playing without middle linebacker Ray Lewis, the team's leading tackler and spiritual leader. Lewis was inactive for a second straight game with a foot injury.
Smith completed 15 of 24 passes for 140 yards and an interception, and San Francisco (9-2) was held without a touchdown for the first time this season. Smith never could get into a rhythm against an aggressive defense that rarely let him set up in the pocket.
"It's tough to get ready for a defense like that in a short week. They do so many things," he said. "They're a great front. At home with the crowd noise, they were teeing off."
Terrell Suggs had three sacks for first-place Baltimore, which moved a half-game ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North.
"That's always the game plan, to get after the quarterback, but I think the No. 1 game plan was to win the Harbaugh Bowl," Suggs said. "Coach tried to downplay it — act like it's not me against my brother, this is the Ravens vs. the 49ers and let's get win No. 8 and make sure our destiny is in our own hands — but it was really important to him. We as a team went out there and really wanted to win for him."
Baltimore broke a 6-6 tie with a 76-yard, 16-play drive that lasted more than 7½ minutes and ended with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to tight end Dennis Pitta with 14:56 left. Flacco went 4 for 4 for 34 yards and a touchdown on third down during the drive.
"When you have that kind of game plan — your line being so efficient on third downs — you have to come through," Flacco said.
Billy Cundiff wrapped up the scoring with his third field goal, a 39-yarder with 4:16 remaining.
Rodgers refused to be rattled, kept his cool and won — again.
"We try to rise above things like that," Rodgers said. "We knew in a rivalry game, there are going to be a hard of hard hits, but we kept things between the whistles."
The defending champion Packers are 11-0 for the first time in franchise history and have won a team-record 17 straight, including the playoffs.
"I don't feel any pressure, this is a good place to be," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Who doesn't want to be 11-0?"
Green Bay easily passed what was expected to be one of its toughest tests toward joining the 2007 New England Patriots as the NFL's only teams to have 16-0 regular seasons.
"We're a long way from there," Rodgers said. "This is a big step toward our first goal, which is winning the division. If we are undefeated after 14 or 15 games, we'll talk about 16."
While the Packers are working on a perfect season, Detroit (7-4) has to figure out a way to avoid the physical and mental mistakes that have put the team on the playoff bubble after a 5-0 start.
The Lions have lost a franchise-record eight consecutive Thanksgiving games and added to their misery in ugly fashion.
"It really does ruin the holiday," center Dominic Raiola said. "You put so much into this and to go out there and lay an egg like that, it's disappointing. My day's ruined."
Suh's day might lead to another fine — and possibly a suspension.
He was tossed for stomping on Evan Dietrich-Smith's right arm in the third quarter.
Suh insisted he didn't intentionally step on the opposing lineman with his right foot, saying he was just trying to separate himself from the situation.
"I apologize to my teammates and my fans and my coaches for putting myself in a position to be misinterpreted and taken out of the game," Suh said.
Dietrich-Smith wouldn't say it was a dirty play.
"Stuff happens," he said.
Green Bay defensive end Ryan Pickett was more outspoken.
"There's no place for that," Pickett said.
The Packers took advantage of Suh's misstep just as they did on Matthew Stafford's three interceptions.
John Kuhn followed nose tackle B.J. Raji for a 1-yard TD plunge after Suh was flagged on third down, and Green Bay turned Stafford's interceptions into two TDs and a field goal.
Detroit became the NFL's first team to win three games in a season after trailing by 17 points with Sunday's comeback win over Carolina, but the Packers proved they weren't as vulnerable as the Panthers.
The Lions finally scored when Keiland Williams ran for a 16-yard TD with 13:11 left and added the 2-point conversion on a pass from Stafford to Titus Young that trimmed Green Bay's lead to 16. They scored a meaningless TD on Stafford's 3-yard pass to Calvin Johnson with 11 seconds left.
Detroit had raised expectations for a competitive and entertaining game during its annual showcase after losing the last seven games by three-plus TDs on average.
The Lions kept it close early — in a punt- and penalty-filled first half — then simply couldn't keep up with Rodgers' passing attack and failed to stay disciplined.
A game that was scoreless for the first 25 minutes turned into a 24-0 lead for Green Bay late in the third.
"You have to keep your composure," Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson said. "In big games, you need your best players there.
"They broke and we took advantage of it."
Rodgers doesn't need any help, but he did get an assist when Detroit lost three defensive backs to injuries, leaving the Lions with receiver Rashied Davis in the secondary.
Rodgers was 22 of 32 for 307 yards. He threw a 3-yard TD pass to Greg Jennings with 4:51 left in the first half for the first score of the game and a 65-yard pass to James Jones in the third for a 21-0 lead.
Stafford was 32 of 45 for 276 yards. He was picked off by Woodson, Clay Matthews and Robert Francois.
Despite the humbling loss, Stafford remained confident about how his team stacks up with the Packers.
"I still do feel like we match up really well against those guys," he said. "We didn't play our best. We didn't get a bunch of breaks."
Green Bay's winning streak, including its run in the 2010 playoffs, equals the streak the Oakland Raiders had during the 1976-77 seasons.
New England won 18 straight during the 2007 season only to lose to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
The Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints were the last teams to start a season 11-0, pulling off the feat two years ago.
"We know we have something special, 12-0 is our goal," Pickett said. "And if 16-0 is there when we get there we'll embrace that."
NOTES: Packers RB James Starks (ankle), LB A.J. Hawk (calf), LB Desmond Bishop (calf) and OG Josh Sitton (knee) were injured. ... RB Kevin Smith (right ankle), FS Louis Delmas (knee), CB Chris Houston (knee) and CB Brandon McDonald (knee) went down for Detroit. ... Green Bay's next game is on the road against the New York Giants and Detroit plays at New Orleans.
BAILEY'S LATE FG LIFTS COWBOYS PAST DOLPHINS:
ARLINGTON, Texas — Win big, win small; win pretty, win ugly. Tony Romo learned a long time ago that victories are the only thing that matter in the NFL.
So on a day when he was sloppier than he'd been in months, and when his defense was giving up plenty of long drives but only one touchdown, Romo had one chance to make it pay off — and he did. He and DeMarco Murray led an efficient final drive, setting up rookie Dan Bailey for a 28-yard field goal as time expired to give the Dallas Cowboys a 20-19 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Thursday.
Dallas (7-4) won its fourth straight, and fourth this season decided by a kick by Bailey in the final two minutes or in overtime.
Heck, it was the second time in five days that he ended a game with a winning field goal.
"We're just finding ways to win," said Romo, who offset a pair of interceptions with a pair of touchdown passes.
That plucky formula will send the Cowboys into December leading the NFC East. They're a half-game ahead of the New York Giants, pending their game at New Orleans on Monday night. If New York wins, the clubs would be tied; a Saints win would keep Dallas on top alone.
"There is no favorite," Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman said. "I'll tell you what happens at the end of the season. We just have to keep on plugging and get some wins."
The Dolphins (3-8) had four drives that got within 10 yards of the end zone, yet settled for field goals every time. Their only touchdown came on a 35-yard pass from Matt Moore to Brandon Marshall.
However, Miami still nearly pulled it out. In the second half, the Dolphins scored on all but their final drive, and that was all it took to end a three-game winning streak.
"When you come into somebody else's place, those (deep drives) have got to be touchdowns," Miami coach Tony Sparano said. "They've been touchdowns the last few weeks and that's why you win."
Eighteen years after these teams played another Thanksgiving game decided on a last-second field goal — one best remembered for Leon Lett's gaffe on snow and ice — conditions were so balmy that the glass end-zone doors at Cowboys Stadium were opened for the first time all season.
Maybe that's what caused both teams to play so sloppy for so long. TV viewers, especially anyone fresh off a huge holiday meal, might've dozed off watching the first half.
But things got plenty interesting after halftime. Moore led Miami on three straight scoring drives of at least 70 yards, the last putting the Dolphins up 19-17 with 7:14 left.
Dallas punted on its ensuing drive, then Moore was finally stopped, too. Miami punted and Dez Bryant made a rare appearance as a returner, taking it 20 yards.
Romo took over at the Cowboys 36-yard line with 2:59 left. Jason Witten went into the huddle and told teammates, "'We need this W, whatever it takes. No penalties. We've got to get it there,'" left guard Montrae Holland said.
Witten caught consecutive passes to put Dallas at the outer edge of Bailey's range. Then it was up to Murray to drive the ball closer.
With blood streaked across the white numbers on his blue jersey, Murray churned out 27 yards on the next five carries. His constant gains — between 3 and 9 yards, including one where he went down rather than stretch for more and risk going out of bounds — took the clock from 2:41 to :17. After a kneel-down to waste more time and center the ball between the hash marks, Bailey split the uprights.
"That's what they are paying me to do, I guess — to go out there and make kicks," said Bailey, who has made 26 in a row, one shy of the club record.
Romo ended a streak of 128 straight passes without an interception, but he completed 22 of 34 for 226 yards. Many of those came while scrambling and some while also being hit or grabbed. He was patient waiting for a 5-yard touchdown pass to Laurent Robinson to develop, and the pair were in sync on an 18-yarder made with Romo moving to his left.
"He just kind of kept hanging in there," Garrett said. "I thought he moved in the pocket really well. In critical situations, he ... allowed us to make plays."
Murray ran 22 times for 87 yards, and caught four passes for 41 yards. Robinson caught seven passes for 79 yards. Witten had four catches for 43 yards and Bryant caught three balls for 35 yards.
Moore was 19 of 32 for 288 yards and a touchdown. He took four sacks and had trouble handling several snaps; one went through his hands and was recovered by Dallas only 5 yards from the end zone. That set up the first Romo-to-Robinson touchdown, with 55 seconds left in the half, ending Miami's streak of 13 quarters without allowing a touchdown.
Reggie Bush ran 16 times for 61 yards and had 35 more on three receptions. Marshall had 103 yards on five catches, including the TD pass hauled in while Newman had him in a headlock for about 5 yards.
"We felt like we played a good game all day, but we didn't make enough plays and they did," Miami safety Yeremiah Bell said. "That's the price you pay, so if we would have made more plays, we would have won the game."
NOTES: The Cowboys improved to 28-15-1 on Thanksgiving. Romo is 5-0 on the holiday; he missed last year's game — which Dallas lost — with a broken collarbone. ... The Dolphins are 3-4 on Thanksgiving. ... Miami's Shayne Graham, who was among Bailey's competition for the Dallas job in the preseason, made FGs of 23, 26, 27 and 28 yards.