Five things we learned from Lions 34-17 win over the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving:
1. The offensive firepower expected all season showed up in all four quarters. We’ve see it in fits and starts, but the problem has been consistency. Yes, playing the Bears’ woeful secondary helped, but this performance should give the unit confidence moving on.
2. The up-tempo play of the offense — it’s wasn’t no huddle, it was quick huddle — helped Matthew Stafford get rid of the ball quicker and sacked less. It was particularly beneficial — and this was no coincidence — with two rookies starting on the offensive line in left tackle Cornelius Lucas and right guard Travis Swanson. Lucas improved over Sunday’s game and Swanson has been solid in his three starts. It’s possible Riley Reiff (knee) could be back against the Bucs on Dec. 7 and Larry Warford (knee) has started running so he’s getting closer too.
3. Defensive end Ziggy Ansah improves week to week before our eyes. He had a sack and three quarterback hurries along with two tackles for loss. Ansah is still learning the game, he’s only got upside.
5. Dominic Raiola’s 200th start is an amazing feat when you consider that only four active NFL players have more — Peyton Manning at 251, Charles Woodson at 230, Justin Smith at 212 and Tom Brady at 202. Coach Jim Caldwell on Raiola: “Obviously, because of the fact that there haven’t been very many guys that have done it, that shows that there’s excellence involved in it. That also shows that he’s been able to stay healthy. What I mean ‘stay healthy,’ it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s been healthy the entire time because you aren’t, particularly at that position, you play through a lot. So, he can play through pain, difficulty, which is hard to do as much banging as they do down in the trenches. The leadership he provides is the apex to our offensive line and is invaluable. We certainly appreciate him.”