Looking back at Lions' last 100-yard rushing game ... in 2013

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- They exhaled and celebrated. Inside the Detroit Lions' locker room that day, they understood the accomplishment. Green Bay had tormented the Lions. Matthew Stafford had never beaten them. Packers offensive lineman Josh Sitton called them "scumbags" and "dirtbags" on defense. And the Lions, they hadn't won on Thanksgiving in a decade.

Down went the streak. What they didn't know at the time is that another streak had begun -- possibly a worse one.

Reggie Bush ran for 117 yards in a 40-10 victory that day, his third 100-yard game of 2013. Twice more, Bush hit at least 90 rushing yards. Even after Thanksgiving that season, Bush and Joique Bell each had over 85 yards in a game.

Bush finished with a 1,000-yard season, the Lions' first since Kevin Jones in 2004. Bell emerged as a power back with good hands. They became the first duo to each have at least 500 yards rushing and receiving for the same team in a season.

So for Bush's Thanksgiving game to be the Lions' most recent 100-yard game? No one expected that. It has been 68 games and counting for the Lions, the longest drought in the NFL in 25 years. The last team without a 100-yard rusher for that long was the 1988-93 Cleveland Browns, a 69-game stretch.

"Last 100-yard rushing game? Get the f--- out of here, no," Bell said. "Me and Reggie, we went over 200 that game."

"Was that Reggie? Oh, wow. I knew it had been a while. I didn't know what game that was. Jeez. That's what, six years? Five years? Wow," former Lions receiver Kris Durham said. "That's tough. That definitely will put a lot of stress on a lot of other facets of the game, your defense, your throwing game and everything."

The attention has been constant. Former Lions receiver Nate Burleson, now a host and analyst on NFL Network and CBS, said it is on the "bingo board" of facts announcers always bring up, that "Reggie Bush was the last Lion to rush for 100 yards."

It has been a stat often used as the capper for one of the worst rushing teams in the league the past four years. Since the end of 2013, there have been really only two close calls: Bell running for 91 yards against Chicago on Thanksgiving in 2014, and Ameer Abdullah gaining 94 yards against Minnesota in Week 4 last season.

Until recently, though, the Thanksgiving 2013 game was known for other things. A dominant defense. The Sitton comments. The end of the Thanksgiving streak and for beating an Aaron Rodgers-less Packers team -- the last time Jim Schwartz would win a game as Lions head coach. At the time, it seemed like a franchise-shifter.

"I wasn't shy about exorcising our demons. For us to move forward we have to know our past," Burleson said. "Oftentimes teams avoid it and act like their past didn't exist, but I constantly talk about it. I was like, 'Guys, at some point, we got to win this. Like what are we doing? We're actually playing in front of Detroit. We're not playing in front of the avid fans that can appreciate both teams. This is the Thanksgiving game. Are y'all kidding me right now? This is the world watching. How are we going to gain respect if we can't win in front of the world?'

"It was a good feeling. Guys, they embraced the moment."

It was a moment created by an explosive run game and a stifling defense that held Green Bay to 126 yards. Combined, Bush, Bell, Jeremy Ross and Stafford ran for 241 yards, the best rushing total by the organization since Nov. 23, 1997, against Indianapolis, when Barry Sanders, Ron Rivers, Tommy Vardell and Scott Mitchell ran for 249 yards.

Bush had four carries of 10 or more yards in that 2013 game. Bell, who ran for 94 yards, had two 10-plus-yard rushing gains. They had a strategy, particularly when facing the Packers, a team they knew so well. Bell said the Lions ran "a lot of powers" along with some misdirection.

"We knew that they were strong off the edge with Clay Matthews coming off the edge, so we always wanted to try and run away from Clay's side," Bell said. "We knew their weak point was either in the middle or opposite of Clay, so that's kind of where we focused on trying to attack. Even on the touchdown I scored right up the middle, when I ran it up to the 1-yard line and tried to stretch in the end zone and got to the 1, and the next play we ran right up the middle -- even though we ran right up the middle, opposite side of Clay, Clay was still in on the play, making the tackle as I was going into the end zone.

"Clay is a great player and we just wanted to make sure we stayed away from him. Not saying we were afraid to run to his side, but you have to take advantage of your opportunities and we knew our opportunities were away from him."

Matthews had five tackles. Green Bay's other linebackers -- A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones -- had 12 each.

That the Lions were even able to run as well -- and as often -- as they did almost didn't happen. Bush, after promising a week earlier he wouldn't fumble again in the 2013 season, fumbled on the first drive on a hit from Matthews. Stafford lost a fumble in the first half that was returned for a touchdown, giving Green Bay a 10-3 lead.

Then the Lions scored 37 unanswered points, including two touchdowns in the span of four minutes at the end of the first half to gain control.

Much of that came from the run game that was set up on the first two drives by Bush and Bell -- the opposite of the Stafford-to-Calvin Johnson passing game that had been Detroit's staple. With the two backs going, the Lions became almost impossible to stop.

"What happened with this game, it wasn't the wide receivers looking at each other nodding heads. It was the running backs coming back, saying, 'Yo, let me get another rock. Give it back to me,'" Burleson said. "Reggie's smiling. Joique is smiling. OK, all right, we got you. The wide receivers were enjoying blocking.

"We knew that if we got our blocks, there was no question these guys would get to the second level and make a big play."

Green Bay couldn't stop it. The Lions converted 9 of 12 third downs, tied for the highest third-down success percentage the team has had since 2010. Bush was particularly effective, picking up eight first downs -- although only one came on a third down.

"A lot of times they are checking at the line. I know that Stafford can call his run/pass options coming up to the line; if he has numbers he wanted, they are going to continue to run it. For whatever reason, we just couldn't seem to stop it," Hawk said. "Their O-line played really well. I definitely remember that.

"They have guys that when they are pulling around on the outside and stuffing him in there, it just seemed like we couldn't get our fits right, couldn't do what we needed to get on the other side of the line of scrimmage."

The Packers had no tackles for loss and sacked Stafford once. The Lions won up front. The backs took care of the rest in a win that had different meaning then than it does now.

The 100-yard significance? That rose because of Detroit's ineptitude after. Bush was potentially the Lions' best back of the past decade, and 2013 was his best season. Thanksgiving was possibly his best game of that season.

And at least until the Lions snap their streak, he'll continue to be known for being the last Detroit player to hit 100.

"Reggie that year was something different, man. I remember when I first saw Reggie, I was like, 'You didn't look this big when I played against you,'" Burleson said. "I remember, I don't know what game it was, it might not have been that game but there was a game where he was running like a f---ing animal, and I would catch glimpses of his face and it was all scrunched up and his veins were popping [in] his arms and his helmet was flying off. I thought this man was a lion for real. Like he's conquering his jungle.

"But that is crazy."