By Ashley Dunkak
FORD FIELD (CBS DETROIT) – Until Sunday, the Detroit Lions had bounced back from every loss with a win the following week. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who lost their first eight games of the season, ended that streak.
The Lions (6-5) still have a shot at the NFC North title and still have a shot at the playoffs. The way the team played Sunday, committing five turnovers and making costly mistakes left and right, made those goals seem unlikely, but the season is still only about two-thirds of the way over, and Detroit has just three days until its next game.
“There is still a lot on the line,” head coach Jim Schwartz said. “As disappointing and bitter of a loss as this is, we have a short turnaround to bounce back. We have a five-game season. This does not eliminate us from the playoffs. It doesn’t do anything other than make the last five games even more urgent. Those are our marching orders over the last five games.”
When the Lions’ record sat at 6-3, cautious optimism abounded about the team’s postseason hopes. After Sunday’s loss, the phrase “same old Lions” reared its ugly head yet again. Wide receiver Nate Burleson said the Detroit’s struggles are unrelated to the rising expectations that had surrounded the team.
“Everyone inside the organization is what we try to focus on,” Burleson said. “If we win big, people are going to praise us and pick us for the Super Bowl. If we lose tough, then people are going to say that these Lions suck and it’s the same old Lions. We can’t dive into what people say.”
No one had to tell the Lions, though, that their performance Sunday constituted a setback.
“You can’t take any team in this league lightly,” defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. “Whether they’re 0-and-whatever or they only have to wins on the season, you have to respect everybody. I don’t think our team by any means took them lightly. I just feel like we made too many mistakes to obviously win the game. We got what we deserve.”
Detroit’s next chance to prove it deserves better is already approaching quickly as the team plays the NFC North rival Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving Day. Everyone agrees the short turnaround will be a plus this week.
“The good thing for us, we play on Thursday,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “We get to get that taste out of our mouth, get back out on the field and play a team in our division. Obviously don’t like losing games, especially in the fashion that we lost it. Got some work to do and have an opportunity to make it right next week.”
Though the loss aggravated him just like it did all the other Lions players, Burleson in particular maintained a persistently positive tone about the kind of team Detroit is and what lies ahead.
“We’re the better team but they played better today,” Burleson said. “We are mad about that. We’re made that we lost. We’re mad that we made a ton of mistakes, but we still had a chance to win. There is so much more to be excited about. We have a game in a few days, and we still have a chance to win the division, so there is so much more to be happy about than to be overly frustrated.”