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Sunday, November 17, 2013

2013 Game 10 - Detroit Lions @ Pittsburgh Steelers


Excuses

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.

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