By Steve Keating
DETROIT (Reuters) - The Green Bay Packers overcame a slow start and kept their perfect National Football League (NFL) season intact with a 27-15 win over the Detroit Lions on Thursday that spoiled yet another Motor City Thanksgiving Day.
Two of the NFL's most explosive offences produced few fireworks early but the Packers made the Lions pay for their mistakes by turning three Matthew Stafford interceptions into two touchdowns and a field goal.
"I felt it was an excellent character win for us," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters. "It was a tough day for both teams ... we knew it was going to be a physical, aggressive game. The stadium was electric."
The biggest blunder of the day belonged to Lions defensive end Ndamukong Suh as the second pick in the 2010 NFL Draft was ejected for a personal foul that set up a John Kuhn touchdown that swung the NFC North showdown in Green Bay's favor.
The Packers, who entered the contest averaging a NFL-best 35 points a game, managed just 44 yards of total offence in a scoreless opening quarter but Aaron Rodgers was soon back on target tossing for 307 yards, including touchdowns to Greg Jennings and James Jones.
The rout marked another disappointing start to holidays for Detroit as the Lions (7-4) absorbed their eighth straight Thanksgiving Day loss. The Packers, however, are on a 17-game win streak that includes last season's Super Bowl run.
The last time an unbeaten team played on Thanksgiving was in 1962 when the Packers paid a visit to the Lions and were handed their only loss of the season.
An excited crowd filled Ford Field Thursday hoping to witness a repeat of that upset nearly a half-century ago.
But as Detroit self-destructed, the champions seized their chances, Clay Matthews intercepting Stafford's tipped pass in the second quarter and returning it to the Lions' 13-yard line where Rodgers promptly hit Jennings to go up 7-0.
The Packers opened the scoring in the second half with a 77-yard drive, kept alive when Suh was ejected for stomping on the arm of Green Bay lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith setting up a one-yard touchdown plunge by John Kuhn.
"I understand, in this world because of the type of player and type of person I am, all eyes are on me," said Suh, who has earned a reputation as one of the NFL's dirtiest players.
"So why would I do something to jeopardize myself and jeopardize my team? I don't do bad things and I have no intention to hurt somebody."
The Lions never recovered from Suh's gaffe as the Packers put the game out of reach.
Detroit's first possession of the second half ended with another Stafford interception followed immediately by a 65-yard touchdown strike from Rodgers to Jones.
Stafford's third interception capped a miserable third quarter for the Lions, Mason Crosby converting the turnover into a 35-yard field goal and a commanding 24-0 lead that sent many in the crowd streaming for the exits.
Keiland Williams and Calvin Johnson each scored consolation touchdowns but the Lions never threatened a serious comeback as the Packers improved to 11-0 for the first time in franchise history.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)