Tough game. The Lions lost the game (as predicted by yours truly) after being tied at half time. The second half kick off that was returned for a TD by Chicago seemed to have a very negative affect on the entire team. I guess they just aren't mentally tough enough (yet).
There is a certain lack of confidence that shows through when things go wrong and unless something big and good happens soon after then the team tanks even harder. That too is more or less predictable. That is why it'll be hard to win until they play some teams that are also lacking in confidence (such as Washington last week and the Rams after the bye week). It'll take time for the coaching staff to build up team confidence, in the meantime there are some things I noticed that will help out the coaching staff, and some that will hurt.
Matt Stafford proved it's not a fluke. He can indeed drive the offense down the field on a time consuming series of plays that result in a score. More then once during the same game even. Considering it was merely his 4th NFL start in his first year in the league, that is really quite remarkable. Yes, he still makes rookie mistakes (there is a limit to miracles after all) but it bodes well for the future of the team.
The run defense isn't horrible. They've pretty much contained AP, Portis, and Forte (except for one or two big plays) which is no easy task. Compared to last year when teams could run at will it is a very big improvement. If they can continue to improve there (by eliminating those big plays) and also work some on the pass defense the games will get easier to win.
Special teams looked like special ed in this game, I don't know if that was due to the injured players who were out or if they simply forgot how to play. I predict there will be ton of special teams work this week (not really stretching my neck out there am I). They don't need to be the best in the league, but they do need to be better then what they were in this game.
Pettigrew needs to work on his focus. Too many dropped balls. Same goes for Aaron Brown in the return game who bobbles the ball nearly every time. Kevin Smith needs to get healthy (or healthier), he has heart but his production was just not there today. CJ, Stafford, and a few others were hit pretty hard in this game. Chicago was the team playing "tough" not the Lions. Chicago was the team inflicting pain. That too seemed to sap the Lions mental toughness.
If they can heal up, work on special teams a ton, keep with the decent run defense and learn to have a little fun during the game the competitiveness will show itself... and once that happens, the confidence will build and the wins will come.
Time to get tough... both mentally and physically... enjoy the match and feel good about how hard you fought, win or lose.