Heading into the final weeks of the season, you would expect a team like Detroit to have already had a game where they just fail in all aspects. You would think that the Lions had gotten all of the small mistakes out of their system by now. You might even have the idea that Detroit would be getting better and not worse by week 14. Well, if you did think any of those things, then you would be 0% correct as the Lions played possibly their worst game all season on Sunday.
Detroit came out of the gates and looked like they didn't practice all week. They managed to lose a game in which their opponents, the Minnesota Vikings, appeared to be doing everything possible to serve the Lions this game on a silver platter. The Vikings were even without starting running back Chester Taylor, who ranked fifth in rushing yards coming into the weekend. As it turns out, a familiar face to the Lions would step in for Taylor to lead the Vikings to a 30-20 victory.
It is the typical and usual story by now for the Detroit Lions. Come out in a game that you're actually favored to win (I still don't see how that was possible) and just lay an egg instead. As bad as Detroit did look today, take out just one or two of the six total turnovers Detroit committed and the story may have been different for only the third time this season. However, this isn't about the "what if's" but rather the "why's." Why did a team have six turnovers? Why did they come away with 0 points on a drive when getting down to the 1 yard line? Why is Jon Kitna still the quarterback? The obvious answer to that question is because the team behind all of this is the Detroit Lions. Nothing seems to be changing around this team, and that was evident yesterday.
From the very beginning of this game Detroit was thrown around by Minnesota. Credit is due for the way the Vikings went about their opening drive as it set the precedent for how things would turn out. On the first drive of this game, the Vikings ended up with a touchdown thanks to a former Lion. Artose Pinner made his return to Detroit after being cut in training camp and scored on a 3 yard run to give the Vikes an early 7-0 advantage. The drive that Pinner capped off lasted 14 plays and took up over half of the first quarters. Detroit's defense was already worn out, and to make matters worse, would be back on the field with little rest.
A few minutes after the Minnesota touchdown, Detroit's offense showed their first signs of not being ready. It's something that was present all day long and got started via a mistake coming from one of Detroit's best players. Roy Williams caught a pass from Jon Kitna and turned to take it up field. Once he made his cut, Williams simply put the ball on the turf. Untouched, Williams fumbled and Minnesota promptly recovered. The play was challenged by Detroit as it was awfully close to being incomplete rather than a fumble, but the referees upheld the call giving possession to Minnesota.
Proceeding the turnover, Artose Pinner got another chance down in the redzone to show off his stuff to former teammates. Pinner himself carried the ball greatly 21 yards down the field to set up a 4 yard TD run, making it his second of the day. Already, the Lions trailed 14-0.
The Detroit turnover trend was just getting started, so it was time for another costly mistake. When the Lions needed something good to happen after two Minnesota touchdowns, Jon Kitna threw an interception that again gave the Vikings great field position. Taking advantage of that, Minnesota quickly got back into the endzone on a 3 yard scramble by Brad Johnson. The Vikes now had a controlling lead of 20-0 (extra point snap was fumbled and throw was no good).
Needing something big to happen in order to stay within reach, the Lions finally caught a break. Following a three and out by the Detroit offense, Brad Johnson made a crucial error that resulted in a huge touchdown for Detroit. Johnson didn't get off a good pass, which led to Jamar Fletcher intercepting it and going 88 yards for the touchdown. Detroit was back in the game and only trailed 20-7. Minnesota committed another turnover on the next drive when Artose Pinner fumbled the ball, and that ended up resulting in a 53 yard Jason Hanson field goal. At the half, Vikings lead 20-10.
The start to the second half wouldn't get any prettier for the Lions offense. On one of the very first plays of the third quarter, Jon Kitna was hit and the ball came loose. Minnesota recovered the fumble and got 3 more points from another turnover. Detroit did answer back on this occasion as Jason Hanson kicked his second field goal of the game on the next drive. This kick was from 45 yards out and made the score 23-13 in favor of the Vikings.
In the closing stages of the third quarter, Detroit shot themselves in the foot a couple of times. First, Mike Furrey fumbled the ball over to Minnesota following a Vikings challenge that got the play overturned. That didn't hurt the Lions in the sense that the defense got a stop, but it still was just another thing to add to an ever-growing list of miscues. Upon receiving the ball back, Detroit quickly found a way to get rid of it again. Jon Kitna threw another interception with some help from Roy Williams and gave the Vikings another chance to take this game over.
Artose Pinner again stuck it to his former team after the turnover. Pinner found the endzone for the third time on the day with this touchdown coming from 1 yard out. That gave the Vikings a 30-13 advantage and really appeared to put things out of reach for Detroit.
The Lions still managed to fight back. Kitna found Kevin Jones for a 23 yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 10 with over lots of time still remaining. The touchdown pass from Kitna to Jones appeared to give a boost to the defense. They held Minnesota again and put it back into the hands of Jon Kitna.
The next sequence of events that unfolded really defined this game. Detroit got down to the 1 yard line with a 2nd and goal looming and handed the ball off to Kevin Jones. With hardly any forceful blocking, Jones tried to dive into the endzone but instead had his leg injured. He would be carted off the field, so the injury appears to be relatively serious. On the next play, Arlen Harris came into the game and was stuffed, bringing up a 4th and goal from the 1 yard line. In this situation a touchdown looks nice, but being down by 10 points, a field goal gets the deficit down to 1 possession. It is a tough choice for a coach to make, and depending on the result, you'll be the hero or the goat. Rod Marinelli was the goat. He had the offense go out there to try and score a touchdown, but Jon Kitna got sacked instead.
That ended the Lions' chances of making a comeback. Minnesota punted and gave the Lions a chance to come up with a rally with little time left. However, Jon Kitna threw another interception in which it looked as though Roy Williams didn't even react to the pass. That made it six total turnovers on the day for Detroit, which is a number that almost no team could come back from. That proved to be the case as Detroit lost 30-20.
Following the disappointment of this last game, Detroit now has to go to the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field to face the Packers. Green Bay is having another less than successful year but is still much better off than Detroit. The Lions will look to get their first win against a divisional opponent all year. Kickoff is slated for 1:00 p.m. ET.