There isn’t much of anything nice to say about the Detroit Lions after their performance on Sunday in Baltimore. The offense couldn’t string together positive plays, the defense made Joe Flacco look #elite, and Matt Prater missed his first field goal inside 50 yards all season long—and his first extra point of the season.
It was bad, all bad.
The Slow Starts Continue
The Lions had a -46 point differential in the first quarter coming into this week, and that’s the 31st worst mark in the NFL this season.
After Sunday’s first quarter had ended against the Ravens, Detroit was a -49 in point differential. The Lions shot themselves in the foot when Matthew Stafford fumbled a snap with the team well within field goal range for Matt Prater. The slow starts continued and it’s just as a mystery as how to fix it at this point.
Jarrad Davis: Still a Rookie
Jarrad Davis made a few blunders to start this one—a neutral zone infraction, a play where he could have been flagged for a late tackle, and a missed tackle opportunity in the backfield.
Davis’ play has been equal parts exciting and maddening, but as a rookie, these are the sort of growing pains we should have expected.
The Lions Defense is Clueless on the Goal Line
Detroit was left confused and bewildered by the Ravens offense on the goal line not once, but twice, on essentially the same play. The Lions just couldn’t stop play-action passes when Baltimore neared Detroit’s end zone, and as Chris Spielman mentioned on the telecast, it seemed to be a complete lack of communication by the defense.
On a macro level, the defense just isn’t forcing the turnovers they were at the beginning of the season, and if that isn’t happening, they’re giving up yards and points.
Tion Green's first carry: 33 yards pic.twitter.com/B1o0LcTAf4— Detroit Videos (@DetroitVideos) December 3, 2017
Everybody wanted Tion Green, and eventually everybody got Tion Green.
After his first carry went for a huge gain, Green and the Lions offense struggled to move the ball on the ground. But Green would not be denied, even if Golden Tate was going to get in his way.
Tion Green's first NFL touchdown pic.twitter.com/oYjkdTslFj— Detroit Videos (@DetroitVideos) December 3, 2017
Nine Players on the Field
While it’s totally legal to play with less than eleven players on the field while on defense, it isn’t recommended. Jim Caldwell mentioned he had to fix the problem of not having eleven men on the field after the Thanksgiving Day debacle where Detroit had ten on the field for a Kyle Rudolph touchdown.
In Baltimore, after the Lions defensive front finally got some push and nearly forced a fumble from the throwing hand of Joe Flacco, Detroit lined up for a crucial third down... with nine players on the field. Caldwell seems to still be figuring out how to get those eleven guys out there.
Lions had nine players on the field on this third down play. pic.twitter.com/XqN6b1oNwc— Ryan (@Ryan_POD) December 3, 2017
Stafford with a Hand Injury with Four Games Left... Again
Late in the game, with the Lions down by 10, Stafford threw up an ill-advised pass that sailed over Marvin Jones Jr. head and into the hands of the rookie he was picking on all day long, Marlon Humphrey.
On the play, Stafford hit the turf, and his throwing hand was stepped on by Terrell Suggs. It looked bloody and bruised as Stafford walked back into the locker room with a towel draped over it. If Stafford isn’t ready to play next week, the Lions could kiss their playoff hopes goodbye.
The Lions just aren’t there yet, and the playoffs aren’t in their cards this season.
Sure, the Falcons lost, but the Lions couldn’t capitalize on their opportunity to pull even with the reigning NFC Champions. Oh, and the Packers came from behind to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in overtime, so they’re 6-6, and Aaron Rodgers is eligible to return in two weeks.