By Jeff O'Brien

When a team loses 47-7, it is difficult to pick out one play that could have changed things.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 26: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scores a 25 yard touchdown ahead of Duron Harmon #26 and Tracy Walker #21 of the Detroit Lions during the third quarter of a game at Ford Field on December 26, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

The Detroit Lions, though, can at least consider it.

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On the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ first possession, they faced third-and-9 from their 19. Linebacker Jahlani Tavai sacked Tom Brady for a 6-yard loss, but Everson Griffen was offside on the play.

Given a second chance, Brady converted the first down with a pass to Chris Godwin, then put the Buccaneers ahead with a 33-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski.

After that, it was a disaster for the Lions (5-10).

DETROIT, MI – DECEMBER 26: Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9), with a heavily taped right ankle, watches the action on the field from the sideline during a regular season game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Detroit Lions on December 26, 2020 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Detroit with Robert Prince handling coaching duties after interim head coach Darrell Bevell was sidelined by COVID-19 protocols, lost quarterback Matthew Stafford to a lower-leg injury on the first series of the game.

Chase Daniel completed 13 of 18 passes, but for only 86 yards and never got the Lions past midfield.

“We were 1 of 10 on third down, which means we weren’t staying on the field,” Daniel said. “When that happens, you are putting your defense in a very tough spot, and it is even worse when you are facing Tom Brady.”

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 26: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throws the ball during the second quarter of a game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 26, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Twenty-three years after backing Brian Griese on the University of Michigan’s 1997 national championship team, Brady didn’t show any signs of age. He completed 22 of 27 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns in the first half as the Buccaneers took a 34-0 lead.

“I’m not going to blame the defense for all of this — this is a team game and we fell short on both sides of the ball,” Prince said. “The offense couldn’t stay on the field and the defense wasn’t able to get the kind of stops we needed to beat a very good football team.”

Tampa Bay rested Brady in the second half, but Blaine Gabbert only needed 10 seconds to make it 40-0. After a touchback on the kickoff to start the half, Lions running back D’Andre Swift fumbled on first down. The Buccaneers recovered the ball on the Detroit 25 and Gabbert hit Gronkowski on the next play for his second TD of the game.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 26: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers makes a 25 yard reception for a touchdown during the third quarter of a game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 26, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Detroit’s only points came on Jamal Agnew’s 74-yard punt return in the third quarter, but the Buccaneers only needed four plays to make it 47-7 on a franchise-record sixth touchdown pass of the game.

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“It’s been frustrating, because we’ve been looking for a play like that all season, and when we finally get one, it comes when the score is 40-0,” Agnew said.

David Blough, the third Lions quarterback of the game, did get the offense into Tampa Bay territory early in the fourth quarter, but the drive ended with a punt from the Buccaneers 40.

“It was a crazy week with the coaches and it is obviously tough to lose Matthew after one drive, but that’s why Chase and I are here,” Blough said. “No one feels sorry for us. It is our job to go into the game and execute and we didn’t do that.”

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 26: Antonio Brown #81 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers makes a reception for a touchdown ahead of Justin Coleman #27 of the Detroit Lions during the second quarter of a game at Ford Field on December 26, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Tampa Bay could have scored 50 points, but Ryan Succop missed two extra points and a 42-yard field-goal attempt.

“I’ve been in a few games like this,” Blough said. “We (Purdue) played Auburn in the Music City Bowl in the last game of my senior year and got beat 63-14. That wasn’t much fun.”

The Lions allowed 588 yards, the second-highest total in team history and the highest in a regulation game. In 1990, the Lions gave up 566 yards in a 43-23 home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, then allowed 676 in a 41-38 overtime loss to Washington three weeks later.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 26: Mike Evans #13 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rushes with the ball after a reception ahead of Tramaine Brock #31 of the Detroit Lions during the fourth quarter of a game at Ford Field on December 26, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Those, though, were the only times the Lions allowed 40 points in a 6-10 season. This year, they’ve given up that many five times and are averaging a league-worst 32.1 points allowed per game.

“This just isn’t good enough,” Prince said. “We had our team, they had their team and they beat us up.”

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