Lions playoff post-mortem: 5 turning points that doomed 2018
Looking back at what was ultimately a doomed season, here are some of the key turning points that scuttled the Detroit Lions in 2018.
Officially being eliminated from the playoff race is as much of a relief as anything else at this point. It seemed like from the very beginning and then every step of the way this season, any glimmer of hope that the Detroit Lions presented was quickly extinguished.
Now with the benefit of hindsight and without the blinding optimism of but still, if they can somehow win the last three … it’s easier to dissect all the little moments that added up into another year of life for the curse of Bobby Layne.
The crucial miscues from Sunday’s 14-13 loss at Buffalo (botched extra point, Prater’s missed field goal, Jarrad Davis jumping offside) provided the final nails in the coffin, but none had the same impact on the season as a whole as the ones listed here.
Week 1: Stafford’s pick-six against the Jets on MNF
The Monday Night season opener ended so ugly for the Lions, it’s easy to forget that Quandre Diggs sent the stadium into a frenzy with a pick-six on the very first play from scrimmage. It didn’t take long for the good vibes at Ford Field to dissipate though, as Lions Run Defense v1.0 couldn’t stop anyone, and Stafford continued his now decade-long trend of slow starts.
Trailing 24-17 but still early in the third quarter, the Lions offense was in position to shake off the rust and begin trading touchdowns with New York until rookie quarterback Sam Darnold made one more mistake. Instead, it was another Stafford mistake that started to spin things out of control, both for the game and for the prospects of the brand new season.
Seemingly recovered from two bad interceptions earlier, Stafford once again stared down a Jets defender, this time linebacker Darron Lee. Lee sprinted 36 yards for one of the easier interception returns you’ll ever see, the Detroit fell behind 31-17, and things only got worse from there.
Doom Level: 7
Stafford’s poor decision making at key moments has played a critical role in no fewer than three losses this year. Starting this pattern right out of the gate, especially in a prime time game after an overall shaky preseason for the franchise, was an ominous sign of things to come. Even so, there were 15 games left to play, and plenty of opportunities to change the narrative of the season still remained.