The now 7-4 Lions got whooped on by the now 11-0 Green Bay Packers by a score of 15-27 today during the first game of the Thanksgiving NFL football marathon. In preseason I had predicted the Lions would lose this game 24-31 and last night in my forum I altered my prediction to say the team that scores first would win 31-24. I guess you could say I was fairly close in these predictions but it sure didn't help the Lions playoff hopes by losing a game they failed to be even competitive in.
I suppose you could say the defenses were competitive for a large portion of the first half when the score was 0-0 until the Lions lost their composure. A lot will be said about one specific aspect of the game, that being the actions of Ndamukong Suh, but even before that occurred things weren't going well for the Lions. What Suh did didn't help, that is for sure, getting himself evicted from the game and allowing the Packers to score a TD instead of a field goal after the yardage and automatic first down were tacked on... but what Stafford and company was doing didn't help either.
Suh might think he as just trying to get up off the ground... or perhaps he thought he was trying to shake loose from being grasped by the leg (I can't tell if that was true in the one angle from the video I saw or not) but what it appears to most is that Suh smacked the players head into the ground multiple times and then stomped or kicked the arm of said player on his way away from the pile. The appearance of this act is what drew the flag, it's what got him evicted, it's what will get him fined, and it might get him games (as in more then one game) suspended without pay. This link will explain what I mean:
Suh comments after the act (but before he has seen the film) make me believe he doesn't know what it looks like to everyone watching. He made a rather odd apology to his "true" fans, teammates and his coaches but nothing about the act itself which doesn't help his case any. I'm not sure what it is he thinks happened or did in fact happen, but take it from me, that won't matter now, it's all about the appearance of what happened so unless someone has a different camera angle or someone in that pile was mic'd, this is going to remain a black mark for a very long time on Suh's reputation and it's going to cost him and the team plenty, now and later.
Now prior to the eviction (and after as well) there were many questionable officiating calls which didn't help the attitude of the players (or this fan) at all. By my count nearly a third of the calls were suspect if not outright wrong. That kind of repeated abuse of power will get most any player upset. It's hard to win if you are upset. It's hard to keep your composure if you're upset. I would've loved to speak at length about each penalty but for the first time in ages I failed to record the game so I can't play it back.
Aside from Suh missing over half the game, the yardage and penalty his flag generated, the poor attitude of the players in general for questionable calls, and the yardage those penalties either gave or killed, there were many other parts of this game that didn't help.
It didn't help that Kevin Smith was injured with what looks like a high ankle sprain and was lost for a lot of the game (and probably the next 3 or 4 games as well).
It didn't help that some of the receivers continue to drop the ball at critical times.
It didn't help to have 3 interceptions regardless of who's fault it was.
It didn't help that Stafford mostly threw short passes and for the third week doesn't appear to be fully devoted to the game being played. Has he lost faith in the play calling? His teammates? The officiating? The fans? The work he has to do now that he's not got a separated shoulder? I don't know what it is, but for whatever reason he just doesn't seem to be as engaged or competitive as he should appear. This of course could just be me... until I have more information I'll leave it at that.
Speaking of facts, let's get back to that... Stafford connected on 32 of his 45 passes for 1 TD, 1 two point conversion, and 3 interceptions. He was credited with 276 yards 81 of which went to Maurice Morris the highest receiver of the day by far (all the check downs didn't help the score in my opinion).
Jason Hanson missed a 47 yard field goal but I'm giving him some slack as he's on his 3rd holder in less then 2.5 weeks. The punting game didn't help with field position though, it sure would be nice to get that part of the game fixed.
There were so many injuries to the defensive backs that Rashied Davis WR played DB for a large portion of the game. That didn't help with the score either, though I'm glad he was able to contribute as much as he did. Perhaps it would be smart to have more then 4 CBs active when you play the best O in the league, but that's just me.
The Lions were 2 for 2 in the redzone, it just didn't help that they only visited the redzone twice. I'm not sure how the coaching staff is going to fix this, but they face the Packers again in week 17 at Lambeau Field and if they are able to get themselves 3 more wins before then, they may have a chance at the playoffs (and may end up facing the Packers a third time) so "it" has to be fixed, whatever "it" is.
I would start making these repairs by fixing the things that didn't help this game.
ps. Coaches, Players, anyone else involved, it's a lot easier to win if you are having fun. Figure that small part out and it'll go a long ways too.