Remember how elated the Detroit Lions fanbase was after a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles? Sitting at 2-0-1, the Lions had a tough match ahead against the Kansas City Chiefs, but there was optimism that this could be their season.
The losses have piled up, and the only battle the Lions are in is for draft position. There are some positives, like Kenny Golladay racking up plenty of yards and touchdowns or Frank Ragnow turning into one of the league’s best centers, but the fans are left disappointed as a whole. Now, with plenty questioning the future of the Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia in Detroit, we are left wondering: what went wrong?
Today’s Question of the Day is:
What was the turning point for the Lions’ season?
My answer: In my opinion, there are four significant points to look at.
The first is the loss to the Chiefs, specifically the fumble recovery touchdown. The Lions went from putting up points — that could have won them the game — to the Chiefs scoring a touchdown due to a Kerryon Johnson fumble. The fumble itself was not an issue, but a majority of the officiating crew believed the play was dead, leading a majority of players to believe the same. It is a perfect epitome of the Lions: questionable officiating mixed with a critical mistake and a side of embarrassment. The Lions could have been 3-0-1 heading into the bye.
Speaking of questionable officiating, let’s move to the game after the bye: a prime time tilt versus the Green Bay Packers. We all know how this went, so I will skim to the crux of the game: the phantom hands to the face calls on Trey Flowers. The referees blew it on national television, and the Packers were gifted multiple chances to win the game. A crucial victory over a division rival evaporated due to calls not going the Lions’ way.
Another turning point to consider is the Quandre Diggs trade. This did not necessarily negatively impact the defense from a talent perspective, but it created a rift in the locker room. Diggs was a beloved leader in Detroit, and by trading him for a measly fifth round draft pick — not to mention the Lions throwing in a 2021 seventh rounder too — they only opened themselves up for criticism. Diggs has helped turn around the Seattle Seahawks defense, with him adding two picks and a touchdown in last night’s game. Not only did it leave a hole in the secondary already lacking depth, but it also puts Darius Slay’s future in Detroit in jeopardy. They were brothers in arms, and the discourse between sides could result in a parting.
The biggest blow to the Lions was the injury to Matthew Stafford. Stafford was on an MVP-level this season, and his injury late in the Raiders game threw the entire season into jeopardy. This team without Stafford is among the league’s worst, and they have played like it. Little needs to be said about how awful this injury was, and with it, the season was all but over.
Of the four points, I believe the Packers phantom calls is the turning point of the season. Stafford’s injury is a bigger loss, but the season was already dwindling. The loss to the Chiefs was tough, but there was hope after going toe-to-toe with one of the league’s best. The Packers game, however, was a brutal, demoralizing loss. The Lions got their hearts crushed on Monday Night Football, and in an already competitive NFC North, losing a game to a division rival in that manner was a tipping point. The Lions’ bend-but-don’t-break defense started breaking in the coming weeks.
It was the beginning of the end.