Atlanta's last successful visit to Ford Field came in 2005 and a recurring theme that day that was the key difference.
The potent running attack of the Falcons hit the Lions early and often in the first ever Thanksgiving meeting between the teams on November 24, 2005. On the other sideline, the script was flipped as the rushing lanes for Detroit were clogged by a rugged Falcons defense which forced them to the air.
Led by running backs Warrick Dunn and ex-Michigan State star T.J. Duckett, the Birds pounded the Lions for 256 yards on the ground. Dunn carried 17 times for a team-leading 116 yards while Duckett, making a return trip home, managed 72 more yards with one touchdown to this credit.
The Lions under head coach Steve Mariucci could only muster 75 yards rushing and the big lead held by the visitors for most of the game made Detroit rely mostly on their passing game with a combination of quarterbacks Jeff Garcia and Joey Harrington.
Just the reverse was true for the Falcons.
With a stout running game, Atlanta was able to set-up the play-action pass and TE Alge Crumpler was the benefactor. Crump caught seven passes for 104 yards with two scores. His last reception of the day ran his season total to 50 catches, setting a then-new team record for receptions by a tight end in a single-season.
Defensively, DE Patrick Kerney saved his best game of the season to help spoil Detroit's annual appearance on national TV as he totaled 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, six tackles and even a pass defensed. The final outcome was a 27-7 Falcons victory.
With a re-charged running game last week that saw Devonta Freeman churn out 139 yards, which included two bruising touchdowns, Atlanta marches into Detroit carry momentum via their ground game. Could history repeat itself again on the Ford Field turf just like it did on Turkey Day 2005?