November 28, 2002
Pats Beat Hapless Lions 20-12
BY: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
DETRIOT, MI -- The Patriots did everything they could to give Thursday's Thanksgiving Day game against the Detroit Lions away, but as usual Detroit wouldn't have any part of it.
New England (7-5) had a punt blocked, Tom Brady threw an interception inside their opponents 20-yard line to end a potential scoring drive, and the Patriots racked up nine penalties for 55-yards against a hapless Lions team who couldn't take advantage of them, and the result was a 20-12 Patriots victory.
The Lions (3-9) lost their first back-to-back Thanksgiving Day game for the first time since 1992-93.
The Patriots defense helped New England overcome a bad offensive performance, picking off Detroit quarterback Joey Harrington three times in the game, with two of them leading to Patriot touchdowns. Linebacker Tedy Bruschi got the first one off Harrington on the Lions second play of the game, picking him off at the Detroit 27 and taking it all the way in for a touchdown. Defensive lineman Bobby Hamilton later intercepted a second one at the Lions 19-yard line, and the Patriots offense scored four plays later on a touchdown run by runningback Antowain Smith to put them up 17-3.
As for Brady he finished the afternoon 18-of-30 for 210-yards, no touchdowns, and one interception.
New England drove down the field on their opening drive, but the offense sputtered and kicker Adam Vinatieri would kick a 31-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead just 4:54 into the game.
Bruschi's interception on the ensuing drive put the Patriots up 10-0, but on their third possession the Lions marched 77-yards on 12-plays which ended in a 23-yard field goal by Jason Hanson to cut the lead to a touchdown with just :11 remaining in the first quarter of play.
On the ensuing kickoff Deion Branch returned the kick 63-yards into Lions territory, giving the Patriots the ball at the Detroit 32-yard line, but on their third play from scrimmage at the Lions 19 Brady was trying to hit David Patten on a pass play and Chris Cash intercepted him at the Lions 16-yard line before being taken down 11-yards later, ending New England's drive.
Detroit couldn't capitalize and would later punt, and the Patriots would try again, this time from their own 20-yard line. They took the ball down to the Lions 47, but the drive would stall and Ken Walter came out to punt away the football. The Lions blocked it, and found themselves in very good field position at the New England 36.
However just three plays later Willie McGinest bailed his team out when he picked off Harrington at the New England 16-yard line and ended a potential threat.
After an interception by New England's defense gave the Patriots first-and-10 at the Lions 19-yard line, a 17-yard pass to Kevin Faulk helped set up a 1-yard touchdown run by runningback Antowain Smith, and suddenly the crowd got quiet as the Patriots now had a commanding 17-3 lead.
But the Lions were undaunted and moved the ball 53-yards on 11-plays giving Hanson the opportunity to convert a 45-yard field goal with :41 left in the half.
On Detroit's second possession of the 2nd half Hanson added another field goal, and suddenly Detroit was back in the game trailing by 8 at 17-9 with 4:12 left in the third quarter.
But Brady and the Patriots offense answered on their next drive, taking the ball 64-yards on 12-plays which ended in a 29-yard field goal by Vinatieri to put the game away at 20-9 just 1:43 into the fourth quarter.
The Lions would add a 46-yard field goal by Hanson on their next possession after Vinatieri kicked the ball out of bounds which gave Harrington the opportunity to start from their own 40-yard line. He was able to move them to the Patriots 27 where Hanson knocked the ball through.
But that was the last time Detroit would touch the football.
Brady took over at New England's own 19 after the ensuing kickoff and helped the Patriots hold the ball for the final 9:39 of the game. During that drive he converted two long third down attempts (3rd-and-12, 3rd-and-12) and drove his team to the Lions 1-yard line before kneeling down and running out the clock.
New England has four games left in the regular season and 10 days off before they face the Bills on December 8th at Gillette Stadium.
REVISION: In November 26th's Notebook Article: "Brady's 2nd Thanksgiving as Pats QB" the article opened saying that "Three Years Ago on Thanksgiving Tom Brady replaced Drew Bledsoe as quarterback of the New England Patriots". While this is Brady's third season as a member of the New England Patriots, the game occurred on November 23, 2000, which was actually only two years ago. Thanks to those who pointed this out and we apologize for the inaccuracy.