If you hadn’t done so already, you certainly jumped ship on the Detroit Lions after Sunday’s 38-10 drubbing in Arizona.
Coming into the game favored by a touchdown and facing a team that has been forced into starting rookie sixth-round pick Ryan Lindley at quarterback, it seemed as though the Lions would win this game.
Nothing could have been further from the truth.
Detroit was run out of the building by the Cardinals in this one, and despite what the score might indicate, the defense wasn’t to blame.
Of Arizona’s 38 points, 14 were scored defensively. 14 more were a direct result of a turnover that gave the Cardinals the ball inside the Lions’ 5-yard-line. Another 7 came in garbage time with the Lions down big. This was following a Lions turnover on downs in their own territory.
The defense surrendered a mere 3 points to the Cardinals offense when Arizona wasn’t given a gift. They played well enough to win, but Matthew Stafford and the Lions’
offense certainly did not.
Stafford threw three interceptions that led to 21 points for Arizona. He was erratic at best, the offensive line couldn’t keep him upright, and the two things combined resulted in a mess. Stafford completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes (24/50) and had a whopping QBR of 4.9. When Stafford gets knocked around like he did in this game, his play diminishes quickly, and Sunday was no exception.
It was the Lions’ worst offensive game of the year, and while injuries have plagued Detroit, their play is to blame.
At 4-10, the Lions now eye another great draft pick; but for once it’s unexpected. The Lions have become accustomed to losing, but this was supposed to be the year that Detroit rose up and proved they belonged.
How on earth are they 4-10 and at the bottom of the NFC?
Their inability to close out games has been an Achilles heel for this team all season. Losing all those close games wears on players whether they admit it or not. The Lions have also been bitten by the injury bug in a big way. First it was in the secondary with Louis Delmas and Bill Bentley going down. Then the wide receiving corps was hit: first Nate Burleson and then Ryan Broyles. Safety Amari Spievey has battled a concussion, tackle Jeff Backus missed a game with a bad hamstring, DT’s Corey Williams and Nick Fairley have both missed time.
The list drags on and on, but there’s more to this 4-10 story.
Even with all these players hurt, the Lions were still able to play Green Bay, Indianapolis, Houston and Chicago all down to the wire. The talent is there. I’ve seen this team play flashes of brilliant football this season, but their inability to sustain that level of play has cost them dearly.
The Lions have lost games because of all three units this year. They lost to Minnesota because they couldn’t cover kicks. They lost to Tennessee because the defense (and special teams) couldn’t stop big plays. They now lost to Arizona because the offense couldn’t hold onto the ball.
One series of plays on Sunday summed up the Lions’ season quite well. Trailing 24-10 with just over seven minutes to play in the game, Stafford and the Lions were driving. They had moved the ball down inside the Cardinals’ 10-yard-line and faced a 3rd-and-2. Stafford took the snap and lobbed it out to Kris Durham, who at 6-foot-6 is a great option for a fade route. The throw was on target and Durham made the grab to get the Lions within a score.
The only problem was one little flag for the stupidest of penalties: delay of game.
Two plays later, Stafford made one of his worst throws of the season that resulted in a 102-yard pick six.
Had Stafford simply snapped the ball when he should have, this game may have turned out differently.
The little things have added up to big problems in Detroit.
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