PONTIAC, MICH., NOV. 22 -- Barry Sanders, who had not carried more than 12 times in any game as Detroit lost its previous three games, ran for 147 yards on 23 carries and scored two touchdowns today and Eddie Murray kicked four field goals as the Lions rolled to a 40-27 victory over the Broncos.
"Barry is a super talent," said Lions owner William Clay Ford, who has urged more use of Sanders. "There are 27 other teams out there who wish they had him. It's criminal not to use him."
Quarterback Bob Gagliano threw for 248 yards and three touchdowns as the Lions improved to 25-24-2 in their traditional Thanksgiving Day game.
It was the most points by the Lions (4-7) since a 44-40 Thanksgiving Day loss to Green Bay in 1986. The Broncos (3-8), AFC champions in three of the last four seasons, lost their fourth in a row.
"We couldn't slow them down much in the contest," Denver Coach Dan Reeves said. "Barry Sanders is just unbelievable. He had a great game and we just couldn't contain him."
Sanders, in only his second 100-yard game this season, ran for a seven-yard touchdown and caught a 35-yard touchdown pass.
"It felt good to be more involved," said Sanders, who had carried only 144 times for 697 yards in Detroit's first 10 games. "We suffered a couple of tough losses. The morale of the team was down. We needed to get a win."
The Lions took a 27-17 halftime lead, scoring on five of their six possessions. It was the first time the Broncos had faced a run-and-shoot offense this season.
"Historically, balanced attacks are more successful, and today was an indication of what a balanced attack can do," Sanders said. "We did pretty much what we wanted to do on offense."
Richard Johnson caught touchdown passes of 11 and 43 yards, Sanders had his seven-yard touchdown run and Murray kicked field goals of 24 and 32 yards in the first half.
In the second half, Sanders turned a quick flip from Gagliano into a 35-yard touchdown and Murray, who missed the previous five games with an injury, kicked field goals of 43 and 45 yards.
"There's been a lot of criticism about not getting the ball to Barry," Gagliano said. "Today we were running this offense the way it's designed to be run. We're doing some productive things and I think it was helpful to get Barry the ball more."
"This is something to build on," said Detroit Coach Wayne Fontes. "We beat an outstanding football team. If you take a long look at it, we are a better football team."