There are many reasons why the Detroit Lions lost to the Green Bay Packers 27-15 on Thursday.
Heading the list is the fact that top - meaning quarterback Aaron Rodgers - to bottom, the Packers have more talent than the Lions.
That's not to say Detroit doesn't have some good players. It does. But in terms of overall team depth, G.B. has the edge in quality players.
The Lions lack an effective running game, their defensive secondary pales in comparison to the Packers and the Detroit squad doesn't have nearly the mental discipline the team from Wisconsin has shown.
That, perhaps more than anything, led to the Lions' loss on Thanksgiving Day.
Losing three members of their defensive backfield to injury didn't help, either
Detroit running back Kevin Smith went down early with an ankle injury and QB Matthew Stafford threw three interceptions.
But in the first half, the Lions committed a couple of stupid penalties on defense- like Kyle Vanden Bosch roughing Rodgers - and three other infractions that stalled offensive drives.
The Lions should have been leading at intermission instead of being down 7-0.
Then, after stopping the Packers deep in the Detroit zone on third down in the third quarter, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh appeared to have stomped on Packer offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith's right arm when the latter was laying on the artificial turf.
That led to a first down and the Packers went on to score, making it 14-0 instead of a 10-point game. It also led to Suh being ejected and may lead to further disciplinary action by the NFL this week.
Everything for the Lions went downhill from there.
Detroit coach Jim Schwartz likes his players to be tough and "on the edge" on the field, especially the defensive line. That's OK, but only if the Lions play with mental discipline.
They didn't Thursday and it cost them big time.
The Packers weren't nearly as undisciplined as the Lions, though they were penalized eight times for 64 yards.
"We kept things between the whistles," Rodgers said. after the game. "That's how we've been coached and we stayed disciplined."
That speaks volumes.
Today, the Lions sit at 7-4 and are still in the hunt for an NFL wild card playoff berth. It's new territory that will take some time for the Lions to fully digest and for the team to act like one of the league's elite squads.
Like the Packers.
But it's going to take a lot more mental discipline than the Lions are showing.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.