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Epic Lions Loss Shows Some Glaring Weaknesses

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NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 23: Amari Spievey #42 of the Detroit Lions recovers an onside kick in the final minute of the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on September 23, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans won 44-41 in overtime. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

NASHVILLE, TN – SEPTEMBER 23: Amari Spievey #42 of the Detroit Lions recovers an onside kick in the final minute of the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on September 23, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans won 44-41 in overtime. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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By: Jamie Samuelsen

One day, someone should write a book about the Lions 44-41 overtime loss to the Titans. Because let’s be clear – there’s no way to sum up that game in a simple blog.

 

It’s a waste of time to recap exactly what happened. You all saw it. And it’s also a waste of time to debate what the biggest storyline is to come out of the game because if Matthew Stafford is seriously hurt, the Lions could have completed 12 Hail Marys and it still wouldn’t be the number one story of the game.

 

If the Lions could have pulled out the miracle, it would have been a very heartening win and another classic ‘victory from the jaws of defeat’ number like they pulled off last season. It would have made them 2-1 and kept them in a tie for first place in the NFC North. But if they had won, it might have masked some of the truly ugly things that happened during an ugly afternoon.

 

And the cold fact of the matter is that the Lions didn’t deserve in any way to win the game against the previously hapless 0-2 Titans. And what’s worse, the Lions are now 6-9 in their last 15 games (including the playoffs) following their 5-0 start of 2011. No, this does mean that the Lions are a sub-.500 team. But it is a pretty decent snapshot of what has happened to this team since their good news start of a year ago.

As good as Stafford is and as good as Johnson is, they’re still not enough to compensate for the shoddy defense. Consider the following.

-          The defensive line recorded zero sacks against Jake Locker who was starting his third career game. In addition, they only were credited with one quarterback hit.

-          The safeties (Erik Coleman and John Wendling) each made egregious mistakes which led to long touchdowns. Louis Delmas needs to get back on the field, immediately.

-          Locker finished with 378 yards after totaling 438 in the first two games combined.

-          The linebackers looked slow. Locker accelerated past Stephen Tulloch on a 31-yard run late in the first half.

This loss is not totally on the defense. The special teams allowed a gimmick punt return and a kickoff return for a score. Brandon Pettigrew frustrated Lions fans again with his giant gaffes. I honestly haven’t a clue what to do with Pettigrew. He’s too good to keep off the field, but he makes to many mistakes to be counted upon on a regular basis. Every time he has the ball in his hands, I don’t expect it to stay there for very long.

And the offense as a whole seemed to continue to search for its identity. A text to the Lions post game show yesterday summed it up perfectly. It was like Mikel Leshoure was a new toy under the tree at Christmas and the Lions (and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan) seemed to forget about all of the other toys. Leshoure looked good (VERY good), but that shouldn’t cause the Lions to look away from Johnson who had just one catch in the first half. Inexcusable. If I ever hear someone start a sentence with, “Teams try to take Calvin Johnson away from the Lions,” I may lose it. ALL teams try to take Johnson away from the Lions. The problem is that none actually can, that is unless the Lions let them.

This is one loss. The Lions certainly can learn from this and rebound from it. But it’s the first loss in the last season plus that truly would qualify as a ‘bad’ loss against a lesser opponent. It doesn’t mean that the Lions are cooked or have slipped back to mediocrity. But it does mean that the problems that plagued this team last season have not gone away. And given the current personnel, they don’t seem like they’re going away anytime soon. In other words, the offense better start cranking it up; because the defense is not going to be able to win any games for this team this season.

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