By Ashley Dunkak
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – The Detroit Lions should have sealed up the NFC North title weeks ago. Instead, they now find themselves in need of some assistance from their rivals to have any prayer of going to the playoffs.
Winning their final two games is essential, of course, and the players can prepare for the New York Giants and for the Minnesota Vikings, but no matter how good the Lions are in those games, they can no longer get to the postseason on their own.
Earlier this season, the Lions were 6-3. After a Monday Night Football loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Detroit is just 7-7.
Chicago (8-6) is at the top of the heap now with a winning percentage of .571. Green Bay (7-6) is not far behind at .536. Both the Bears and the Packers are on two-game win streaks. Even Minnesota won its most recent game. Chicago has been without starting quarterback Jay Cutler for most of the season, and the Packers have been missing Aaron Rodgers.
What is usually a tough division has not been as challenging this year, and the Lions still have not been able to get it done.
“It’s tough,” running back Reggie Bush said. “We are the No. 2 ranked offense, and we didn’t play like it today. We didn’t play like we wanted it today on both sides of the ball. There were plenty of opportunities out there for us today to win the game and make plays, and we just didn’t come up with it on both sides of the ball.
“This is a setback for us,” Bush added. “This one hurts.”
Head coach Jim Schwartz, who continued to brush off questions about his job status in light of this late-season collapse of the Lions, said the team still has too much work to do to worry about all that.
“Our emotions aren’t important right now,” Schwartz said. “We have two games to play. We’re one down in the division. So I think that’s the most important thing for us to keep in mind at this point.This was a setback, no question, because like you said, we did control our own destiny until tonight. Now we’ve got to get some help from somebody. Chicago and Green Bay play each other the last game of the season, so one of those teams is going to get a loss.
“We go and get two wins, we’ll let everybody else sort it out,” Schwartz continued. “We’ve got to be resilient enough to bounce back from it. This was a tough loss for us. It was a tough football team that we played.”
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson said no doubt is creeping into the minds of him or his teammates at this point. He sounded like he was already looking ahead to the next game on the schedule.
“All you can do is come back and work hard over these last two weeks,” Johnson said. “Focus in on taking a weakness on or whatever it is that you need to focus on. Study this film, of course, and come back and get a win next week back at me.
“Fortunately, we still have a chance,” Johnson added. “We just have to win these last two.”