A week after winning their first game of the season, the Detroit Lions found themselves incredibly undermanned on the road against the Denver Broncos, losing 38-10.
Struck by an illness and multiple positive COVID-19 tests, the Lions were extremely limited in their ability to practice this week and activated seven players off the practice squad the day before the game.
After a strong second quarter, the Lions were only down seven points at the half, before things spiraled out of control after the break.
Let’s take a closer look at some key aspects of the Lions' Week 14 loss.
Stock Down: ball security
The Lions turned the ball over in a myriad of ways against the Broncos.
Running back Godwin Igwebuike put the ball on the ground on the opening possession of the second half. Jared Goff telegraphed a pass late in the game that led to an interception by safety Justin Simmons. And to complete the trifecta, the Lions turned the ball over on downs.
For a team that was already down a lot of key players and starters, the Lions made things much harder on themselves by giving Denver extra possessions.
If the Lions want to have any shot at winning another game before the conclusion of the 2021 season, they will have to take much better care of the football.
Stock Down: run defense
184 yards on 39 carries to the tune of 4.7 yards per carry and three scores. The Broncos got whatever they wanted on the ground, whenever they wanted.
Unfortunately, this has been a reoccurring defensive theme for the Lions. Too often, opposing running backs are not even touched until they are well into the second level and by then, it’s too late. Broncos running backs Melvin Gordon III and Javonte Williams often had massive lanes to run through, leaving linebackers and safeties scrambling to make tackles in the second level.
Undermanned or not, this is somewhere the Lions need to see improvement over the final month of the season.
Stock Up: Craig Reynolds
With starters D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams out, reserve running back Craig Reynolds made the most of his chance against the Broncos.
Reynolds finished with 83 yards on eleven carries and had several nice plays - including ripping off this 35-yard run:
.@13_CJR got us going on that last drive #DETvsDEN | : FOX pic.twitter.com/YVbioDmuaN— Detroit Lions (@Lions) December 12, 2021
If he can show more of this, he may carve out a role for himself on the active roster.
Stock Down: health
Beyond the players who were sick or on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week, the Lions were dealt yet another massive blow in Denver when rookie cornerback Jerry Jacobs was carted off the field with an apparent knee injury and Alex Anzalone was also forced from the game with an ankle injury.
Just rotten luck for a team that has suffered an unbelievable amount of injuries this season.