It’s rare for a game to end in more heartbreaking fashion like that. Sadly for Detroit Lions fans, Sunday’s loss to the Ravens is just another instance of hopes and dreams getting crushed in horrific ways.
Watching Justin Tucker bounce his way to a record-setting, game-winning field goal made many Lions fans groan in agony, their team falling just short of an improbable victory over a playoff-caliber team. The Lions fell to 0-3 and are sitting in the NFC North’s—and NFL’s—basement. However, there are some positives to be had.
It doesn’t show up in the standings, but the Lions went toe-to-toe with the Baltimore Ravens, a team fresh off an explosive and exciting victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Limiting that offense to just 19 points is a victory in and of itself, especially considering the Lions gave up 41 points to the San Francisco 49ers and 35 points to the Green Bay Packers. The Ravens left points off the board, no question, but the defense showed great improvement. The pass rush, even missing Trey Flowers, was outstanding. Despite starting a 2020 UDFA and 2021 UDFA in the secondary, the Lions weren’t carved up in the passing game. The linebackers, after benching Jamie Collins, looked quick and decisive compared to previous weeks.
However, a low-scoring game means the offense faltered, and for the first half, the Lions accomplished very little. Zero points at halftime is a poor showing for a team that has otherwise shined out of the gate. Oddly enough, it was the second half where the offense came to life. T.J. Hockenson took a back seat in this game to the tune of just two catches for 10 yards, as Kalif Raymond led the team in receiving. D’Andre Swift became the go-to weapon on offense—although please, never let him throw the ball again.
Still, the Lions faltered in the end, and there is some blame to be placed on Dan Campbell. Playing it safe late ended up hurting the Lions—read Jeremy’s article about the three decisions—and gave the Ravens enough of a shot at winning. This was perhaps the first hiccup of Campbell’s tenure as head coach, but it can be a learning moment. Given his continued aggressiveness on fourth down, as well as a wise challenge on a Kalif Raymond catch near the end of the first half, Campbell still showed significant improvements over Matt Patricia.
With the Lions now sitting at 0-3, how are you feeling about the team?
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Do you feel better, worse, or the same after the Lions’ loss to the Ravens?
My answer: I feel a little better.
An effective pass rush is a must-have in the NFL, and the Lions front seven was finally showing up. That is my biggest takeaway from the game, and if the Lions can duplicate that success, it will help the rest of their defense. Amani Oruwariye and Bobby Price were fine in the secondary, but their job gets easier if the defensive line can pressure quarterbacks. If the Lions can hold teams to 20 or fewer points, that can set up the offense to win games.
I still think Jared Goff is a limiting factor on offense, but I also acknowledge that the wide receivers aren’t great either. The Lions have been operating with such a small margin of error that the smallest of mistakes can sink the team. We saw it against the 49ers, we saw it against the Packers, and we saw it against the Ravens. However, this was the closest game of the season, and for good reason: the defense looked serviceable. If the offense can score with more consistency, they aren’t half bad. I think the coaching staff has realized that D’Andre Swift is a mismatch in the passing game, and I expect him to continue to be Goff’s safety blanket.
Some fans are going to hate this, but I need to preach patience. Success isn’t going to come quickly for this team. I like the direction the Lions are heading, and you should too.
How do you feel about the Lions after their loss to the Ravens?
This poll is closed
A lot better
A little better
A little worse
A lot worse