Everybody deserves blame for this loss, especially the offense
There's plenty of blame to go around for Sunday's loss to the Packers. On offense, the Lions' inability to consistently finish drives with points absolutely killed them early on, and Matthew Stafford's inability to play at a consistently high level doomed them. We already knew that Stafford is nowhere near Aaron Rodgers' level as far as quarterbacking goes, but even with one bad leg, Rodgers still outshined him by a wide margin. For what the Lions are paying Stafford, he has to perform better in big games like this.
On defense, the Lions did quite well in the first half considering they allowed only seven points and had a goal-line stand. In the second half, however, they got carved up by a quarterback who could barely even move. They failed to get any real pressure on him, and for some reason they decided to not even cover Randall Cobb. I'm not quite sure what they were aiming for with their game plan once Rodgers returned in the second half.
Finally, special teams continued to be a problem. There were actually some positive moments -- Jeremy Ross had a nice return, the Lions blocked a field goal and the onside punt was quite awesome -- but they were all overshadowed by Green Bay's 55-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter. That punt return completely negated the Lions' goal-line stand, and it's something that just can't happen. (Something that also just can't happen: sending a kickoff out of bounds, which Sam Martin did in this game.)
The Lions have to learn how to win big games on the road
In the second half of the regular season, the Lions lost three games. All of those losses came on the road against teams with winning records (Arizona, New England and now Green Bay). I'm not going to sit here and harp on the stat about how Stafford is winless in road games against teams with winning records, because this is a team-wide problem; the Lions simply don't know how to win on the road against good teams. I'm not sure what is preventing them from playing well on the road, but every game seems to follow a similar script: Detroit gets down early and falls into too big of a hole to later climb out of.
With the Lions headed to Dallas next week to play the 12-4 Cowboys, they better learn how to win big road games real quick. If they don't, they're headed for another one-and-done appearance in the postseason.
That officiating was absolutely disgraceful
Let me be clear: the officiating did not prevent the Lions from winning; the Lions prevented themselves from winning. Even so, that doesn't excuse the pitiful officiating we witnessed on Sunday. There were countless questionable calls during Sunday's game, a couple of which involved replay. Just look at how the officials overturned Joique Bell's two-point conversion despite not previously overturning Rodgers' touchdown on a quarterback sneak. How was there enough evidence to overturn Bell's two-pointer but there wasn't enough to overturn Rodgers' TD? This kind of inconsistency on something like replay is alarming, especially when you read comments like this after the game:
Caldwell: Official explained it to me in detail that if he had hit the ball first it could be overturned.— Tom Leyden (@TomLeyden) December 29, 2014
That's Jim Caldwell explaining why he challenged Eddie Lacy's potential fumble on a play that was ruled down by contact and later upheld. The problem here is the explanation Caldwell received is not the actual rule:
If the DET defender hit the ball first, by rule, he's still down.— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) December 28, 2014
Obviously it's ultimately on Caldwell to know the rules and use better judgment when challenging, but it's absolutely inexcusable for an official to incorrectly explain the situation to a coach. There was a long conversation before Caldwell's challenge actually went through, and if that conversation entailed an official incorrectly explaining the rules to Caldwell, that's beyond unprofessional. We obviously don't know for sure, but I can't imagine Caldwell would have challenged if the rule had been properly explained to him. Even something as simple as that is apparently asking too much from the officials, though.