Part of me wants to dwell on the mistakes made by the Lions that cost them a shot against the Green Bay Packers. The other part of me simply wants to dismiss the 27-15 loss because the Packers are really that good.
Either way you look at the game, the facts are clear: the Lions had 11 penalties on top of three turnovers, all Matthew Stafford interceptions. The penalties, especially in the first half,
stalled drives inside Packer territory and took points off the board. The turnovers cost the Lions dearly as well, as the Packers scored 17 points as a result.
Things didn’t go smoothly on offense, defense, or special teams for Detroit. Jason Hanson even missed a field goal! The offense turned it over and committed stupid penalties. The defense failed to get a single turnover, and only hit Aaron Rodgers twice (although both were sacks). The special teams unit did manage to hold the opposition without a score for a change, but the Hanson missed field goal was costly, as it would have gotten the Lions on the board.
Despite the mistakes, the Lions shouldn’t get down on themselves because of this loss. The Packers really shouldn’t lose another game this year until the playoffs, and even then they will be favored in every game they play. Barring a Rodgers injury, the Packers should win their second consecutive Superbowl.
Even though there is no shame losing to the Packers, the Lions still have issues to address. The play of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has to top Jim Schwartz’s list of things to deal with this week. During the third quarter, Suh was ejected from the game after holding a Packer offensive lineman on the ground, then stomping on him. The incident was the dirtiest play yet from Suh, who now faces a potentially lengthy suspension. Schwartz must condemn that kind of play and let his team know that it won’t be tolerated. He should start by benching Suh indefinitely.
The turnovers have to stop as well. The Lions started 5-0 because they didn’t turn the ball over. Since then they have gone 2-4 because they have turned the ball over. Stafford has to protect the ball better than he has in the past three games or the Lions will slowly fall out of playoff contention.
To make things worse, the Lions lost several key players to injury. Running back Kevin Smith went down early, although I can’t say I’m surprised since he was out of the NFL for a year. Then the Lions lost safety Louis Delmas and corner Chris Houston, and wide receiver Rashied Davis played most of the fourth quarter as a defensive back.
Despite losing the suddenly resurgent Smith, the Lions still were able to run the ball effectively to the tune of 6.5 yards per carry. The running game has been a positive, albeit unnoticed, part of the Lions’ offense and should give the team something positive to build on during their long week.
The schedule ahead isn’t much better, as Detroit still has games against New Orleans, Oakland, San Diego, and a week 17 rematch with Green Bay.
Hopefully the Lions can get it rolling in their last five games, because their performance on Thanksgiving barely topped Nickelback.