Last week, Detroit had a 24-14 lead on Minnesota before ultimately losing 28-24. It’s happened yet again: the Lions have a lead and appear well on their way to victory before ultimately crumbling late and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. It feels like it’s happened so many times in the Dan Campbell era–the Lions are so close to being a winning team, but they just can’t close the deal. This team still doesn’t fully know how to win, although they have made some real improvements this season.
Let’s go over the games in the Dan Campbell era the Lions could’ve won but didn’t over the past two seasons including last week against the Vikings:
- 2021 Week 3, Ravens: this was the game where Justin Tucker won it on a 66-yard field goal at the very end. Lions absolutely should’ve won it. The field goal bounced in off the crossbar. Come on.
- 2021 Week 5, Vikings: Lions lost 19-17. They took a 17-16 lead with 37 seconds left after scoring a TD and going for 2 to take the lead. But they lost on a last second 54-yard field goal by Minnesota’s Greg Joseph. Unreal.
- 2021 Week 10, Steelers: It was a tie. A freaking tie. The Lions were 0-8 up to that point, but they snapped their losing streak by tying the Steelers. It was in Pittsburgh, in the cold November rain, and David Blough was starting for the Lions. The Lions got in position for a game-winning 48-yard Ryan Santoso field goal in OT with about 4 minutes to play, but it was nowhere close. They then almost came down with a pick on Pittsburgh’s next possession but dropped it. Pittsburgh was actually on the verge of being in field goal range at the end of OT, but Detroit forced a Pat Friermuth fumble and recovered it with 8 seconds left. The Lions certainly tried the old hook and ladder play but it went nowhere and the game ended in a tie. Although it was the end of the Lions’ losing streak, nobody was celebrating.
- 2021 Week 11, Browns: Lions lost 13-10 on the road. They were down 13-0, stormed back to make it 13-10, but just couldn’t stop Nick Chubb at the end and Cleveland was able to salt it away. Was not a heartbreaking end but it was a close game that the Lions were in and reasonably could’ve won had they made just a few more plays.
- 2021 Week 12, Bears: Lions lost 16-14 on a last second Cairo Santos field goal. Lions just couldn’t stop the Red Rifle, Andy Dalton, as he led the Bears on a game-winning drive that took up about the final 7-8 minutes of the game. The common trend here in most of these games it that the Lions just need to be able to get one last stop to secure their lead, but they consistently can’t do it.
The Lions are scoring a hell of a lot of points this season. They have the most points scored in the entire league right now. Jared Goff was out there lighting it up against Seattle: he was 26/39 for 378 yards and 4 TDs and he didn’t even have Sungod.
Unfortunately Detroit has the worst scoring defense in the league, allowing 35 points a game.
The defense is the weak link for the Lions. They kind of alluded to this in Hard Knocks. There was a part, if I remember, where they were frustrated that the offense was continually schooling the defense in practice. They drafted Aidan Hutchinson to try to shore up the pass rush, they found a late-round gem in the linebacker Rodrigo from Oklahoma State. And 2020 first round pick, cornerback Jeff Okudah, who the Lions took #3 overall but who has been dealing with injuries for most of his young career (including an Achilles tear last year), now finally is on the field and living up to his potential. Okudah is low-key one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL right now. He absolutely clamped Justin Jefferson last weekend–held him to 3 catches for 14 yards. Just man-handled him. There’s a clip that went viral of him just tossing Jefferson to the ground.
And yet despite Okudah, Hutchinson and Rodrigo on the defense this year, they’re still just not good enough to get the job done.
In week 4, the Lions lost to the Seahawks 48-45 in a game where Seattle didn’t punt once.
I mean we are talking about a Lions defense that simply doesn’t do anything. They’re cones. Mannequins. Cardboard cutouts.
The Lions have the highest-scoring offense in the league but the worst scoring defense in the league. The end result is a 1-3 record.
They let Seattle run for 235 yards in the game on 33 carries.
That’s 7.1 yards per carry. That’s like some shit you see when Alabama plays Vanderbilt.
Actually, no, not even: when Alabama played Vanderbilt the other week and won 55-3, Alabama had 228 yards on 34 carries, which is 6.7 yards per carry.
So actually Seattle had more success running the ball on the Lions defense than Alabama had against Vanderbilt this year.
That’s just embarrassing, man. Detroit let up 8.8 yards per play to SEATTLE. Seattle was the worst offense in the league prior to this week.
Detroit let Geno Smith pass for 320 yards and 2 TDs on 23/30 passing.
Are they going to think about firing Aaron Glenn? Probably. It sucks because he was on Hard Knocks and if you watch Hard Knocks you grow to like those guys, but being this bad on defense is unacceptable. The Lions are going nowhere fast if their defense is this poor.
This game against the Seahawks was extremely winnable for the Lions, and yet because their defense couldn’t get ONE SINGLE STOP, they lost 48-45.