Sunday, December 8, 2013
The Detroit Lions go to 7-6 after losing to the Philadelphia Eagles 20-34 today. The weather conditions were very poor, by half time there was around 8 inches of snow on the ground and most of the first half was played in white-out conditions. The Lions were up by a score of 8 to 0 at half time and appeared to have control of the game only to see it all go the opposite way in the second half. In fact, the Eagles scored 28 point in the 4th quarter alone. The only bright spot in the whole game was Ross's punt and kick returns for touchdowns, something a Lion hasn't done since the 70's.
Mathew Stafford was 10 of 25 for a 148 yards with no TD's and no INT's. He had 5 fumbles however to go along with 2 from Joique Bell. While Stafford's were bad, Bells probably cost the Lions 2 scores. It was a very poor showing just the same regardless of the weather.
The Lions defense held the Eagles to only 11 completions of their own... which was good. Unfortunately they also allowed 299 yards rushing... which was horrible. How they played so bad as the weather improved is something I don't think I will ever understand. It was simply a very poor showing.
I could spend a great deal of time complaining about the poor coaching, poor officiating, poor ball handling, poor run defense, poor luck, and anything else that was poor, but it just gets so tiring. Tiring to write, tiring to read. So instead, I think I'll just put this game behind and look towards the next one.
The next one being on Monday night football against the Baltimore Ravens. If the good Lions team shows up it could be a very good game and a win for Detroit, but the poor Lions team shows up it's going to be a massacre. So far this year it's been a 50/50 deal as to which team will show up, I'm hopeful the fact it's a national game will keep their collective heads in the game and limit the number of totally stupid issues that keep happening. Going with that line of thinking I shall predict the Lions win this next game by the same score they just lost by, 34-20.
Posted by NetRat's Lions Blog at 8:01 PM
Thursday, November 28, 2013
What a difference.
The (now) 7-5 Detroit Lions tromped on the (now) 5-6-1 Green Bay Packers with a score of 40-10. After repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot for a quarter and and half the Lions got their collective heads out of their collective backsides and played like everyone knew they could. The Lions went on a rampage scoring 37 unanswered points after getting behind 3-10, what a difference a short week makes.
Matthew Stafford went 22 of 35 for 330 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs. The defense held Flynn to 10 of 20 for only 139 yards 0 TDs and 1 INT. Not only that, the defense also held the Packers to 24 yards rushing. The Packers only TD was a fumble recovery for 6 in the 2nd quarter just before Stafford and company woke up and started focusing on playing the game correctly.
The Lions defense even managed to get their first safety of the year. Did I mention the Lions forced two fumbles and recovered them both? No, I probably didn't. I would mention how the Lions blitzed more then I've seen them do all season but I don't want to get anyone's hopes up that that will continue into the future (though I truly hope it does). What a difference it makes.
Lions had 2 fumbles and 2 interceptions before they finally (FINALLY) stopped the bleeding and truly focused in on the game. I have no idea what switch got flipped or by who, but I'm terribly glad it happened. Hopefully whoever responsible can remember how to flip that switch in the future in case it's needed again.
There were many things that made a difference this game, I shall simply list some of them:
1. The Fans didn't sleep through the game, they actually made some noise and tried to be a proper 12th man.
2. The coaching staff actually called more run plays then pass plays, over 40 run plays to 35 passes.
3. The coaching staff actually blitzed the opponent, and the blitz actually got to the QB.
4. Matt Stafford actually completed more then 60% of his passes. Most of them were on target as well.
5. Most passes that could be caught were caught, the number of drops was severally reduced.
6. The officiating was fairly accurate, fair, and didn't interfere with the games outcome.
7. Every member of the team played as if they were totally focused on the game sometime soon AFTER the fumble for a TD in the second quarter.
What a difference every one of the 7 listed items made. The Lions are now alone in 1st place in the division, own the tie breaker with the Bears, and by splitting with the Packers this year no one owns the head-to-head tie breaker there (where as the Packers owned it before this game). When it comes time to determine the division winner at the end of the season these facts could make quite a difference.
The Lions now have 10 long days until they go take on the Philadelphia Eagles, hopefully the momentum from the 2nd half of the Packers game carries over into the Eagles game. Hopefully the Lions do not lose the focus they displayed today, or if they do lose focus I truly hope they are able to find it before it's too late and eek out another road win. Every road game is challenging, and the Lions haven't shown they are consistent yet this year, but it's just possible they can win this game to maintain their lead in the division. My prediction is once again hard to make, but I'll go with a 24-23 score and cross my fingers and toes. Hmmm... I appear to have some kind of optimism again, what a difference a win makes.
Posted by NetRat's Lions Blog at 11:13 PM
Sunday, November 24, 2013
The (now) 6-5 Detroit Lions lost to the (now) 3-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 21-24. The Detroit Lions simply refuse to take ownership of the NFC North by winning their way to division champs. However, the Chicago Bears lost today to the Rams and the Green Bay Packers finished in a tie with the Minnesota Vikings which means the Detroit Lions remain in 1st place anyway. In 4 days the Lions play the Packers on Thanksgiving day, it should be an interesting match-up to say the least. Just about ever fan on the planet now expects the Lions to lose. I am curious to see how they handle the pressure of a nationally televised game.
Matthew Stafford had yet another horrible game, completing 26 of 46 for 297 yards, 3 TDs and 4 INTs. Many of his teammates contributed to the loss, but in my mind, Stafford crumpled under pressure and contributed the most to the loss.
Some fans want to throw the loss onto the feet of the defense, but that same defense held the Bucs to 39 rushing yards (less the negative 17 yards for the QB) and that same QB was held to only 14 completions. The problem is those 14 completions netted 247 yards and 2 TDs... and the Lions defense created zero turnovers once again.
Some fans want to put the blame on the Lions coaching staff, but the only part that I blame them for is failing to help the players handle the pressure of winning.
The momentum from the wins before the bye week is all gone now. The two losses since actually has the fans and the players going in the wrong direction. Many fans have actually given up on the season already, even though the Lions still are 1st in the division. The problem now seems to be that the team (and the fans) don't know how to handle success. The pressure to win, to make the playoffs, is causing the players to bumble and fumble their way through the game, and causing the fans to turn on a dime with every bad play. There was no home field advantage this week. May not be next week either unless the team has some big time plays early in the game and then keeps doing them throughout the day. The players and the coaching staff needs to handle this pressure, otherwise there really is no reason to get to post season as the team won't handle the pressure of the playoffs any better. I haven't exactly got the formula for success at this point, but the players have forgotten how to have fun and just play... they are putting so much pressure on themselves that it's an impossible situation. Hopefully someone of note in that organization figures out that they are putting too much pressure on themselves and gets them to stop, coaching staff and players alike.
Maybe the upcoming nationally televised game will get their collective minds off the playoffs and on to the game itself. It is also possible the added pressure will make them fold like a broken chair. That is why I am anxious to see the next game. It could easily be a turning point in the season, or it could signal the end.
There is a hierarchy in the Lions that has to handle this pressure to win, it starts with Schwartz, goes to Linehan and Cunningham, then quickly goes to Matthew Stafford, followed by Reggie Bush, Calvin Johnson and the rest of the team (and let's not forget special teams). Everyone on the team needs to keep their focus under the pressure to win, and enjoying the game again is a large part of that. The same goes for the 12th man, that is to say, the fans who go to the game. Everyone needs to first relax, have fun, and then focus on winning the game helping in any way they can.
I desperately want to predict a win on turkey day, I know the Lions have the talent to win, I'm just not sure that all those who go to Ford Field on Thursday will handle the pressure well enough to win the game. Here's hoping.
Posted by NetRat's Lions Blog at 8:44 PM
Sunday, November 17, 2013
The now 6-4 Detroit Lions lost to the now 4-6 Pittsburgh Steelers by a score of 27-37. The Green Bay Packers lost today but the Chicago Bears won, getting them to 6-4 as well. Lions remain at the top of the division by virtue of the head-to-head tie breaker. The cushion the Lions could have enjoyed is now gone after only 1 week.
There were many factors in the game, not the least of which was that it was raining. It was played outside on a grass field. CJ and Bush are playing hurt (and so was Bell by the end of the game). On and on the excuses go. Fact of the matter is, if the Detroit Lions want to win the division and get deep into the playoffs they simply can NOT play like they did today.
Matthew Stafford was only 19 of 46 good for 362 yards 2 TDs and 1 INT. He completed only 3 of his 16 passes in the second half of the game. None of those 3 were to Calvin Johnson. 19 of 46 is a 41% completion percentage, there really is no excuse for that, not even due to the couple of drops that his wide receivers had (which were bad).
The Lions gave the ball away 2 times by fumbling and 1 time by interception. They created no turnovers of their own. This is inexcusable as well. Some are blaming the coaching staff going for a 1st down instead of a field goal as one of the reasons for the loss, but in fact the play worked, it was a first down, the problem was the punter fumbled the ball away instead of simply allowing himself to be tackled. I loved the play myself, just not the execution of it.
Ben Roethlisberger passed for 367 yards and 4 touchdowns including two touchdowns in the final 5 minutes. The Steelers scored 37 points. No amount of excuses can make that any better. The Lions defense failed, there was rarely any pressure by the front 4 and there were no blitzes all game long if I recall correctly. You are not going to win jack if you create zero turnovers AND give up 367 yards through the air every game.
Matthew Stafford broke a 55 year old record to become the Lions' all-time leading passer. Yet his accuracy was pretty much horrible during the game (even some of the passes that were completed were really bad throws). As one of the top paid players on the team he needs to help overcome the shortcomings on the rest of the team, not become a part of the problem. No excuses, he failed to do that this game.
It was a team wide loss, you can not possibly assign blame to any one person or group. The running backs were ineffective, the passing game stunk, the receiving was terrible, the tackling was atrocious, there really wasn't anything to be proud of this game by anyone. No excuses, the Lions lost this game and can not allow it to happen like this again or they simply wasted the season. Time for the coaching staff to earn their keep. Time for the team captains to step up and lead. Everyone needs to work harder and do better, inside or outside, rain or shine, on O or on D. It doesn't matter who could be blamed for the loss, it only matters that it doesn't happen again.
Lions have a couple of home games coming up. Against the improving Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then 4 days later on Thanksgiving Day. Mathematically they may not be "must win" games, but in reality, they are. Put in the work now, put in the effort during the games, and keep yourselves under control and focused... win the dang games. No excuses.
My prediction? I'm afraid I can't give one. I have no idea why the team lost focus this game nor do I know what they might do in the next two. I can only hope the home crowd can keep the collective Lions' heads in the game. If the crowd does, if the Lions do [remain focused] then two wins is easy to predict. If not, if the Lions fall to 6-6, we'll be spending the last half of December talking about the upcoming 2014 draft, and probably about who the next set of coaches might be.
Posted by NetRat's Lions Blog at 9:40 PM
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Wasn't Very Pretty
The 6-3 Detroit Lions won their 2nd game of the season against the 5-4 Chicago Bears 21-19. Since the Packers also lost today that puts the Lions in first place in the division all by themselves, a game ahead of the Packers and two games ahead of the Bears (due to tie-breaker rules). The Lions have never had a solo lead in the division this late in the year since they won the division in 1993. If I wanted to describe the game in 3 words or less, I'd have to simply say "it wasn't pretty".
Calvin Johnson broke Herman Moore's Lions TD record in the game after scoring two touchdowns to bring his total to 63 in 100 games, a full 2 years sooner then it took Herman Moore to get to 62. Matt Stafford was 18 of 35 for 219 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT. Like I said, it wasn't pretty.
The Lions defense held the Bears to 38 yards rushing, proving once again that they are a run defense to be reckoned with (no team is running wild on them this year, so far). They did allow 312 yards passing between the two Bears' quarterbacks though, there is still work to be done on the pass defense but they did tighten up when the team needed them to the most, and even if it isn't very pretty, at least it got the job done.
Once again my main complaint of the game would be Stafford's ball placement. The Lions nearly lost this one and if they had a lot of people would've come down much harder on Matt for his errant throws. However, at some point near the end of the 3rd quarter (as I was saying in chat once again) you could see the Lions quarterback get into a kind of groove (as they say). You could see his focus improving. Some call it clutch (big talks about that a couple weeks ago in my forum). That ability to focus despite the added pressure of needing to win the game as time runs down. Now the Lions weren't actually behind in the 4th quarter it just felt like they needed more points to win the game, but I could tell that the Lions were going to win at that point in time regardless of the past 3 quarters and regardless of the lead, simply because Stafford suddenly was placing the ball much better. He was focused. He was clutch. It wasn't a pretty game, but it was effective.
The defense was also clutch, as I said. They tightened up just when the team needed them to the most. Despite some mental errors earlier, which were made up for a little later on, the team put in that extra soul searching effort right at the end of the game to prevent a 2 point conversion and an on-sides kick to seal the deal. No, it shouldn't have had to come to that, the Bears were dealing with their own issues (some of which the Lions created)... so what can you say, it wasn't a pretty win, but it was a win, and it propels the Lions into first place in the division holding a crucial tie-breaker and momentum as they continue the 2nd half of the 2013 season.
The next game will be in Pittsburgh against the Steelers, a team who struggled earlier this year but have since starting playing a little better. I predict another close game until the 4th quarter then once again finding the Lions the winner with a score of 26-20. Fair warning, it's not likely to be very pretty either.
Posted by NetRat's Lions Blog at 8:24 PM
Sunday, October 27, 2013
The (now) 5-3 Detroit Lions won at home against the (now) 4-4 Dallas Cowboys by a score of 31 to 30. While that line sounds impressive, it doesn't do any justice for describing the actual game that was played. Every week members of my Lions Forum go into the chat-room during the game as we watch it from various locations throughout the world, at the end of the chat this week I pronounced today's game the "Game of the Decade". I've been watching the Lions for 2 1/2 decades and I'm sorry, but these types of games don't happen that often.
I'm also sorry I predicted the Lions would lose this game last week, but as I posted repeatedly in my forum all this last week, the Lions aren't going to win unless certain things happened. One was that Matthew Stafford needed to cut in half his miss-throws. Bad ball placement is (in my opinion) why the Lions are losing the close games (not that other aspects of the team are innocent, not by a long shot). Well, Stafford did indeed cut in half his accuracy issues in this game, and that gave him the one stat he was deficit in, a greater then 62% completion percentage. (I'm not talking the drops, in this or any other game, those happen and Stafford can not control that). Stafford was 33 of 48 for 488 yards 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions (only one of which was on him). Now THOSE are franchise QB numbers!
Calvin Johnson set an NFL regulation yardage record, boasting a total of 329 yards to go along with his TD. I'm sorry Mr. Bryant, but there is now no doubt who is the better WR in this league (as if there were any before).
Another key to the game I was harping on this last week was the lack of balance between run plays and the passing game. Linehan and the Lions did a great job at that in this game, with 143 total yards on the ground (and 3 TDs) run by 4 different players. Including a fake spike as time was ticking down when Stafford went over the top instead for his rushing TD. I'm sorry, but that was just one sweet play (and not called as far as I can tell, Stafford did that one on his own).
The last key to the game was turnovers, I stated that the Lions had to win that particular stat by 1 or more to win the game. Well, the Lions gave up 4 turnovers and got none. If I recall correctly, only 1 time in 55 games has a team in the NFL won the game after giving up 4 or more turnovers. The Lions are the 2nd team in 56 to do so. No, I didn't see that one coming.
What I did see coming was the win. No, not last week when I predicted a loss. No, not during the week leading up to the game as I reiterated my prediction of a loss. No, not even during half time when the Lions were losing 7-10. It was during the 3rd quarter after the 4th turnover when the Lions were still only down 3 and just before the score went to 7-13, I stated more then once as fellow fans were giving up on the game and the season that I first posted that I thought the Lions would win this game. Play after play I simply became more and more confident that the Lions were going to win. I almost gave up shortly after the 2 minute warning at the end of the 4th quarter until I realized that the Cowboys weren't trying super hard to get a first down and the Lions had 2 timeouts remaining. With a minute to go the Lions drove the field for the game winning TD. Why did I believe with all my heart the Lions would win the game when they were pretty much giving the game away? Because they turned over the ball 4 times but were only down 3 points and CJ was ticked off when he fumbled the ball away. I'm sorry, but you don't want to get the Hulk nor Megatron mad. The focus in his eyes and the way the rest of the team had been playing gave me the premonition, the feeling, the Lions would win the game.
I'm sorry for all those fans who left the game early, because you missed one fantastic game, one you would gladly pay to go to again at any time in your life. You'd even be willing to pay more then you did.
I'm sorry for Mr Spurlock who (it would appear) has lost permanently his return job today. I do not believe he will be on the Lions roster come Wednesday.
I'm really sorry for Mr Broyles. Today's injury probably means the end of his NFL career.
Last, I'm sorry for the other teams in the league. The Lions almost went into the bye week having lost a game they would've known they could've won, especially after giving up 4 turnovers. Their mental state after the bye week might have put the team in the basement. Instead, the team has got 2 weeks to let this confidence sink into their systems, the team is going to be very confident going forward and very difficult to stop now.
I think my future predictions will be based more on health then on history. The Lions now know what they are capable of, this is the kind of thing that propels teams into the playoffs. It really does. They are going to annihilate the Bears after the bye week. Sorry Bears fans, but the Lions will win this next game by 3 scores at a minimum.
Posted by NetRat's Lions Blog at 7:57 PM
Sunday, October 20, 2013
The Detroit Lions lose this one 24-27 to the visiting Cincinnati Bengals. A week ago, if you recall, I predicted the Lions would lose the Bengals game 24-27. How's that for E.S.P.?
The division is now tied up with a 4-3 record for the Bears and Lions and a 4-2 record for the Packers putting them in first place and the Lions in 2nd due to tie breaker rules.
Matthew Stafford was 28 of 51 for 357 yards and 3 TDs with 0 INTs. Stafford failed to hit the 60% completion percentage that I always say is a requirement for a good chance to win a football game. The team also failed to create any turnovers, another factor that usually only happens to the losing team, but since both teams failed to create any, it was a wash this game (Dalton didn't fail to hit the 60% completion mark however).
With near a minute to go in the game, the Lions had the ball with the score tied 24-24 facing a very long field. I had this premonition if you will that the Lions absolutely no matter what should NOT give the ball back to the Bengals. It was paramount that the Lions drain the clock and if at the end of regulation, with less then 5 seconds left, should the Lions be in field goal range then put it through to win the game... but I felt that under no circumstances should the Bengals have the ball with any time left on the clock. As it turned out, that E.S.P. of mine was absolutely correct. Our rookie punter who was likely nervous and under pressure to belt a great punt shanked it instead, giving the Bengals great field position, 2 completions later it was the Bengals with 4 seconds on the clock who hit the game winning field goal.
Many will blame the punter for the loss, but I have a feeling that even had he hit another 60 yarder the Bengals still would have made the completions necessary to get a game winning field goal. No way to prove that obviously, but my E.S.P. was screaming at me that that would be the result. I felt the way to control the game was to have the ball for the remainder of regulation... not to kneel it, but to use run plays and high percentage passes to try to get in field goal range without getting into a 4th down situation. Worse case, they go into overtime.
If I felt it necessary to place blame for the loss, it wouldn't be the punter, but rather the quarterback and the defense. The quarterback for his lack of accuracy and the defense for it's lack of turnovers. This would be something that could be argued for eternity without ever coming to a consensus, that's the nature of football. I don;'t feel it's necessary to place blame however, I would just hope that the team works on improving accuracy and creating turnovers. All future games pretty much depend on this.
That said, my E.S.P. tells me the only way to win the upcoming Cowboys game is to outscore them (on offense). That is going to require a team effort and a whole lot of focus. It is certainly possible for the Lions to win this game, but with the continued struggles with accuracy I'm inclined to predict another Lions loss of 20-38. Please Detroit Lions, prove me wrong, destroy my E.S.P. sense once and for all. I don't want to be right.
Posted by NetRat's Lions Blog at 11:26 PM