Credit: Jeffrey G. Pittenger-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles: Good, Bad & Ugly

The Detroit Lions were slight underdogs headed into their game with the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Many of us here at SideLion Report did not like their chances as they didn’t seem to match up particularly well against the multi-faceted Eagles’ offense.

Then mother nature intervened.

A freak snowstorm would likely be a bad omen for the Lions, a dome team, right? But it was the Lions that took it to the Eagles early when the snow was at its heaviest.

Yet it would all fall apart in ways only Lions’ fans can understand. In the end, Detroit dropped their third game in the last four, 34-20.

I miss the blizzard

The snow storm turned out to to be a blessing in disguise because the worst fears with the Lions’ defense against the Eagles’ offense didn’t materialize initially. While the offense had trouble holding onto the ball despite moving it, the defense continued to force three and outs during the heaviest part of the snow.

But as the game went on, and the snowfall dissipated, the Eagles’ adjusted. Particularly LeSean McCoy, who shredded the Lions’ usually stout run defense for a career-best 217 yards on the ground. The Lions’ offense, on the other hand, inexplicably went south as conditions improved and the defense was on the field way too much in the second half.

Mistakes everywhere

The Lions controlled the ball through much of the first half, but fumbled away opportunities to put points up on the board. I can understand and somewhat excuse fumbles in a driving snowstorm, however the one near the goal line was a killer. Not because Joique Bell fumbled again, but because they were running it on third down instead of trying for the end zone with single coverage on their tall receivers. Bad play calling may have cost them points on that drive.

With Detroit still only down by a score in the fourth quarter, a bad snap went past Matthew Stafford and for some inexplicable reason, he tried to pick it up. Had he fallen on it, the Lions would have kept the ball. Instead Philadelphia took over. Though the Lions still had a chance, that seemed to be the dagger.

Snow or not, home or away–the Lions have to hold on to the ball and they just seem incapable of doing it.

Defense went MIA

Credit: Jeffrey G. Pittenger-USA TODAY Sports

Some fans will point to the horrible, inexcusable and unquestionable bad calls on the drive which saw Philadelphia tie the score in the third quarter. There is no doubt that those blown calls were largely responsible for the Eagles scoring on that drive, however there is no excuse for all the other second half scores. The weather wasn’t a factor and the penalty calls (and there were a lot of them) were legitimate the rest of the way.

The defense did a helluva job on Thanksgiving and through the first half on Sunday. I would hate to say they quit, because I don’t think they did. But they likely were a bit demoralized with the lack of success of the offense, and were completely gassed.

While Jeremy Ross had a career game, and gave the Lions’ something they haven’t had since 2004 (a punt return TD) and 1977 (punt and kick return TD), his heroics continually put the tired defense back on the field.

Bottom Line

  • As bad as this game went for Detroit, let’s remember one thing–they still lead the division and could retain a two-game lead should Dallas beat Chicago tonight. Most figured the Lions would lose this game, and they did. Now, the Lions must do something they haven’t done all season. This will be the third time this season where they will have two straight home games and they have yet to win both of them. Do that against Baltimore on Monday Night Football and New York the following Sunday, and the division is pretty much locked up. And, as we all know, anything is possible when you get in the postseason.
  • I love watching snow games, however its always much more enjoyable when your team is not playing.
  • The Fox announcer, Kevin Burkhardt, put it very succinctly when he said (paraphrasing): This is what infuriates people about the Lions, they have a ton of talent but can’t stop making stupid mistakes. Its very true. Certainly snow and bad officiating altered Detroit’s game plan, however horrible play on offense and defense cost them this game, not extenuating circumstances.
  • With that said, they are still in the driver’s seat in the division and I won’t crown them “Same Old Lions” until they piss it away.
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