Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Josh Sitton labeled the Detroit Lions “dirt bags” and "scumbags” earlier this week, in comments that lit up the internet and dominated the pre-holiday hype.
The Lions didn’t respond in the press. But Ndamukong Suh, Ezekiel Ansah, Calvin Johnson and the rest of the talented Lions certainly sent a message on Thanksgiving Day: "you mess with the bull, you get the horns."
The Lions responded in a manner that would have made any high school coach proud: with their actions on the field.
The Lions embarrassed the Packers with a 40-10 victory in Detroit’s traditional Thanksgiving Day home game. It was more than just a blowout on the scoreboard.
It was one of the great physical beat downs in the history of the NFL. In fact, a more efficient team should have won by 50 points, not 30.
We introduced Total Team Yards this season as a way to measure yardage gained in all phases of the game: offense, sure, but also defense and special teams. If a team, for example, returns an interception or a punt 50 yards, we count those yards.
Detroit Thursday bested Green Bay by +502 in Total Team Yards Differential, easily the biggest territorial mismatch in 2013. In fact, only one other game this year was +300 – so the Lions essentially lapped the field on Thursday.
Top 10 Games 2013, Total Team Yards Differential
We don’t have historic Total Team Yards Differential data. So we don’t know where the Lions-Packers territorial beating ranks among the worst of all time. We can assume with some semblance of surety that it’s among the biggest beat downs ever.
We DO have historic total offense data available since 1940 at ProFootballReference.com and it confirms that bloated American football fans watched one of the great physical beatings in history unfold Thursday.
The Lions outgained the Packers 561-126 (+435). That differnential ranks No. 4 in the Live Ball Era (since 1978), No. 7 in the Super Bowl Era (since 1966) and No. 11 since 1940.
Top 12 Games NFL History (since 1940), Total Offense Differential
|1||1951||LA Rams||722||N.Y. Yanks||111||54-14||1951||+611|
|4||1966||L.A. Rams||572||N.Y. Giants||103||55-14||1966||+469|
|6||1979||New England||597||N.Y. Jets||134||56-3||1979||+463|
|8||1953||San Francisco||597||Baltimore Colts||136||45-14||1953||+461|
Football is, at its essence, a battle of territorial acquisition, using the human body as a weapon. The league itself put it best years ago, in a quote we referenced at the start of the season:
“Professional football is basically a physical assault by one team upon another in a desperate fight for land ... The most basic possession, land, is the issue in football and the most basic weapon, the body, is the means of acquiring it. It is a game of physical dominance; the weak are punished unmercifully and the unskilled are run off the field.”
The "scumbag" Lions lived up to the essential mission of those words on Thanksgiving, punishing mercilessly the weak and unskilled Packers.