The Detroit Lions lose to the San Fransisco 49ers on their home turf with the final score being 19-25. Both teams are now 5-1. Both teams played hard, very hard, and I'm sure the left coast press will state how overwhelming Gore and the 49ers were but I saw the opposite... that being how underwhelming the Lions played.
At first glance the stats show one thing but having watched the game my eyes saw another. I'd almost think the entire team had their gatorade spiked with sleeping pills during half time... or perhaps they were just dehydrated... either way, Matthew Stafford had a very underwhelming day never really finding his "groove" or even some semblance of consistent accuracy while the defense lost about as much enthusiasm to play as the fans did to make noise. Even the play calling was "sleepy" or perhaps "inadequate" would be a better word. I even wondered a couple times whether both Linehan and Stafford weren't suffering from concussions (or perhaps having sympathy symptoms for Scheffler and Durant). The longer the game wore on, the worse the players got... Backus became old and slow, Stafford looked lost or in the wrong time zone, the receivers started playing less sharp, actually, most everyone on the team played less sharp, not to be outdone the officiating got worse, heck by the end of the game Schwartz forgot he was a head coach on television and lost his cool... and I don't really know the reason for any of it. Monday Night Football hangover perhaps? Sounds too easy.
The winning teams' quarterback had a whopping 17 completions for 145 yards 1 TD and 1 INT. The losing teams' quarterback had 28 completions for 298 yards 2 TDs and 0 INTs. Yet Stafford never really strung more then a couple of passes in a row together with any kind of accuracy. Both teams converted only two 3rd downs.
The safety the 49ers defense got was simply a bad play by Stafford and bad play calling by Linehan, but the 49ers defense got the points whereas the Lions defense got none all game, although the Lions defense did create a fumble on the first 49ers offensive play of the game and an interception later on.
The winning team had 15 penalties for 120 yards, the losing team had 6 penalties for 54 yards.
Both teams had 2 TDs but the Lions went for 2 points at the beginning of the 4th quarter and failed to convert. Jason Hanson also missed a 52 yard field goal making his other two while the 49ers made all 3 of theirs.
The Lions time of possession was just over half the game at 30 minutes 21 seconds.
The officiating was questionable on and off all game long but unless the Lions tanked the game due to being upset at the officiating that isn't why they lost.
No, the reason the Lions lost was due to the next two sentences:
1. Stafford was sacked 5 times (and hurried many more) while Smith was sacked only twice.
2. Lions had 66 yards Rushing, the 49ers had 203.
The Lions defense failed to stop the run, being gored by Gore on two huge plays, and they failed to sack Alex Smith. That is what lost the game.
The Lions offense failed to compensate for the underwhelming defensive play by being, well, average. The offensive line was below average as was the quarterback while the rest of the team was at or above average for the most part.
I had expected more from the offense and a lot more from the defense.
Much was made after the game about the pushing match between the head coaches (apparently Harbaugh said something profane and shoved Schwartz) but while newsworthy to others it meant nothing to me and still doesn't.
What concerns me is the inability to stop the run game by the defense, the inability by the offensive line to protect Stafford, the inability to execute the basic plays efficiently when the officiating is suspect, and the team being out coached by the 49ers.
I blame this loss on coaching and age.
Age: I'm just now starting to wonder if Jeff Backus' age isn't catching up with him, he really didn't have the stamina to play the whole game (I think you'll see that his play in the 4th quarter was simply terrible) while at the same time the defensive tackles are relatively young and failed to play the run on the way to the quarterback a few key times.
Coaching: Reinforce the run defense when struggling during the game. Hydrate your players if they are getting sluggish. Settle down your players when the officiating is suspect. Get short yardage fast when backed up into your own endzone. Save the 2 pointers for the last half of the 4th quarter. And finally, FOCUS.
Hydrate, Communicate, and then Celebrate but never lose focus.
When the coaching is underwhelming the players play that way.