Falcons 27, Lions 7
The Atlanta Falcons dominated the Detroit Lions so thoroughly, Michael Vick was able to kick back and relax.
Vick threw two touchdown passes to Alge Crumpler and Warrick Dunn ran for 116 yards to lead Atlanta to a 27-7 victory over host Detroit on Thursday.
"It's always nice when you get an opportunity in the fourth quarter to sit down, enjoy the moment and the victory," Vick said.
While he was chilling and Detroit fans were leaving, Falcons Coach Jim Mora was probably the only one nervous about replacing his exciting quarterback with Matt Schaub early in the fourth quarter.
"When you've lost two in a row, it's hard to feel you've got one in the bag," Mora said. "Until the very end, I was on pins and needles not having Mike in there."
Atlanta (7-4) took advantage of playing the mediocre Lions (4-7) and closed the gap behind NFC South co-leaders Carolina and Tampa Bay to a half-game after having lost two straight at home.
The Falcons improved to 4-1 away from home.
"We're road warriors," Crumpler said.
The only positive for Detroit was this: The result of its annual Thanksgiving home game wasn't as bad as its 41-9 loss to the Colts last year. That marked the team's most lopsided loss on the holiday.
Like last season's matchup, however, the visitors were ahead by so much in the fourth quarter they rested their star quarterback.
"It was ugly and it was embarrassing," said Joey Harrington, one of three quarterbacks Detroit used.
Vick was 12 for 22 for 146 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. Crumpler tied career highs with seven receptions and two touchdowns and had 104 yards receiving.
"Eighty percent of the time, Alge's open," Vick said. "He knows how to create space for himself and he's always there. He's my guy."
Dunn went over the 100-yard mark on just 17 carries, thanks in part to some huge holes opened up by the offensive line, and topped 1,000 yards for the second straight season.
"Today was just a total team win," Crumpler said. "Our defense came out and created turnovers. Offensively, we controlled the clock."
Atlanta, the NFL's top rushing team, ran for 256 yards.
Harrington started for the Lions and was 6 of 13 for 61 yards with an interception. Jeff Garcia entered late in the first half and completed 14 of 24 passes for 154 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Rookie Dan Orlovsky was 5 of 11 for 43 yards and, fittingly, lost a fumble with 15 seconds left just outside Atlanta's end zone.
The Falcons led 17-0 early in the second quarter after scoring on three of their first four drives while Detroit had turnovers on its first two possessions.
A lucky bounce helped the Lions avoid the shutout.
Garcia's pass to Roy Williams was broken up by DeAngelo Hall, then bounced off safety Keion Carpenter before Williams caught it for a 31-yard score with 9 minutes 18 seconds left.
In what has become a Motor City tradition, some fans chanted, "Let's Go Red Wings!" late in the fourth quarter as perhaps 5,000 spectators stuck around to watch the end of the awful performance.
"It's embarrassing to come out here and play the way we did on national TV," Lions guard Damien Woody said. "I'm just shocked that we came out the way we did."
The Lions have lost four of their last five Thanksgiving games after losing only once from 1994-2000.