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High Expectations Continue to Fall for Detroit Lions

Photo Credit: Emily Peterson

Photo Credit: Emily Peterson

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With a new season comes new hopes, and for the Lions hopes and expectations have never been higher. Last season the Lions finished with a record of 11-5 which allowed them to reach the playoffs with a wild-card round match against the Dallas Cowboys, which I’m sure we all remember as the heartbreak of last year as they fell 20-24. Now with very much the same roster, with the exception of having a healthy Calvin Johnson, the Lions were expected to be one of the fiercest and more competitive teams in the NFL. Instead, the Lions start off with a record of 1-7 with their only win coming against the Chicago Bears in Week 6.  So what’s the issue? The answer is simple, poor offensive production. The Lions started off the season on the road against the San Diego Chargers. While this game was projected to be competitive and a difficult win for the Lions, many people were shocked to see the Lions fall in this game. After leading for most of the game, the Lions allowed 30 unanswered points which led to the 33-28 loss.

With heads still held high and expectations still high for the Lions, they marched into Minnesota the next week to play the Vikings in what should have been a sure fire win, but alas their poor second-half play carried on into the game and the offense never really got going. This, little did the Lions know, would be their trend going forward. In the game against the Vikings, the Lions trailed the entire game. Even with two fumbles by Minnesota star running back Adrian Peterson, one of which gave the Lions the ball back early in the 3rd quarter, at which point had the Lions been able to muster out a touchdown they would have been able to tie the game and possibly change the overall outcome. Now after dropping their first two games, the stakes were high for the Lions as they got ready for their home opener against the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football the next week.

The Broncos had not lost yet, and Detroit was still looking for their first win of the season. There was no better place to get that elusive first win than in front of over 60,000 fans cheering them on. The home crowd didn’t seem to make much of a difference however as the Lions were unable to ever really get going on offense once again, this time against one of the league’s more average defenses. The Lions weren’t able to get on the scoreboard until late in the second quarter which would have tied the game had the extra point attempt not been blocked by the Broncos. Then the defense collapsed and allowed Peyton Manning to drive down the field just before the end of the half to put the broncos up 14-6. The Lions then game out from halftime looking strong on defense, then turning it around on offense scoring their second touchdown of the game however they failed to tie the game once again after the failed two-point conversion attempt. Now with the score at 14-12 the Lions were looking like they might actually have a chance to win this game, then came the fourth quarter. The offence now began to fail, with their four drives all ending in disappointment with a punt, fumble, interception, and then to wrap up the game an incomplete pass by Matthew Stafford which caused a turnover on downs. The defense showed how fatigued it was allowing 10 points in the fourth quarter, the final score of the game being 24-12.

With another primetime game for the Lions in week four an even bigger disappointment was the result, the loss this time coming with a little controversy. The offense once again was unable to get going, however the defense played well all game. After the first half the Lions were only down 10-3 with plenty of time to win this game. They weren’t however able to score at all in the third quarter leaving it all up to the fourth quarter now down 13-3 after allowing another field goal on the first drive of the second half. Now the Lions needed to be clutch, and started it off right with a forced fumble to start the final quarter of play. However the offence was unable to get anything going being forced to punt on the drive preceding the fumble recovery. Then the defense brings all the hope back yet another fumble, this one being returned for a touchdown and suddenly the Lions were only down 10-13. After unproductive yet very time consuming drive for the Seahawks the Lions now had a chance to come back and win this game. They almost did just that after driving down the field to the Seattle 11, then came the controversy. On a pass to Calvin Johnson that was fumbled and the ball went out of bounds giving the ball back to the Seahawks and would end up being the game for Detroit as they would fall 13-10. Now the controversy is that the ball was batted out-of-bounds which is illegal and the ball should have remained in Detroit’s possession and should they have scored a touchdown, they would have won the game.

After a heartbreaking loss against the Seahawks, the Lions were now in a do or die situation finding absolutely crucial to get their first win of the season against the Cardinals who just received their first loss against the Rams the previous week. Even with quarterback Matthew Stafford throwing an interception on the first drive and running back Ameer Abdullah fumbling on the second drive the Lions were able to score a touchdown on their third drive. Sadly this would be the only real success for the Lions for the remainder of the game leading up to the fourth quarter. The Cardinals would tie the game on their next drive following the Detroit touchdown. Stafford would throw another pick and the lions would fumble again before the end of the first half, giving the team four total turnovers in the first half with more to come in the second half. Stafford would throw his third pick of the game on his first drive of the second half, following which Head Coach Jim Caldwell would bench Stafford for the remainder of the game. Now with backup Dan Orlovsky in the game the Lions, the offense looked slightly better however the backup would finish the game with 191 yards a touchdown and an interception. The touchdown did not come until late in the fourth quarter. The final score of the game was 42-17 Cardinals.

Week six came along and all hope for the Lions was basically gone. What should have been a sure fire win was being projected as yet another loss for the woeful Lions. However the Lions were prepared to prove to everyone that they were still there and could still be considered a winning football team, and that’s exactly what they did on Sunday against the Bears. The Lions offense finally got going this week leading 7-3 at the end of the first, and was up 21-13 at the half. Then in the second half the Lions allowed only three points and gained three points for themselves with a score of 24-16 to end the third. In the fourth quarter the Bears made a huge comeback and with 2:23 left in the game the Lions were down by four points, Matthew Stafford lead the Lions down the field in 2:02 for a touchdown to give the Lions a three point lead with 21 seconds left in the game. However the Lions defense collapsed and allowed the Bears to drive down the field and kick a game tying field goal as time expired. This meant overtime football in Detroit, which the Lions were able to make a field goal on their third drive in overtime to win the game 37-34.

Finally getting a win the Lions had regained a winning mindset, or so we thought. The Lions took on the Vikings for the second time this season this time on their home field. However once again home filed wasn’t much of an advantage. The Lions came out strong scoring a touchdown on their first two drives, and at halftime they lead 17-15. Coming out of the tunnel for the second half the Lions once again collapsed allowing 13 unanswered points, and other than a safety late in the fourth quarter, the Lions were scoreless in the second half. They would go on to lose this game 28-19, leaving everyone disappointed yet somehow unsurprised.

Week 8 saw the Lions facing a weak and banged up Kansas City Chiefs team in Wembley Stadium in London. The Chiefs were without their star Running Back in Jamaal Charles however this didn’t seem to matter as it was absolute domination by the Chiefs from the start of the game. The Lions looked decent on their first drive and were able to get a field goal but this would be their only real success for the game. At the half the Chiefs lead 24-3. The final score was even worse at 45-10; the only touchdown by the Lions came late in the fourth quarter on a pass from Matthew Stafford to receiver Lance Moore. This game was the first one with new offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, after the Lions fired Joe Lombardi on Monday October 26th following the loss to the Vikings.

With the Lions struggling early on with little potential shown up to this point, it’s once again looking like a Lions season bust. Changes were made but after the performance by the offence under the new coordinator could the problem stem somewhere else? With rumors stirring around star receiver Calvin Johnson being traded before the deadline, is he really on his way out? Could the Lions be looking at a first overall pick this year in the draft? Could this be Matthew Stafford’s last year in Detroit? Could we see yet another head coach in Detroit? Hopefully all these questions will be answered sooner rather than later. The Lions are on a bye week this week, and if changes are to be made this is the most opportune time to do so.

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High Expectations Continue to Fall for Detroit Lions