After an impressive start on Sunday, the Detroit Lions looked like they would cruise to victory over the San Diego Chargers. The team was clicking and seemed locked in. Rookie running back Ameer Abdullah had scored a touchdown n his first career rush, juking all pro safety Eric Weddle out of his shoes. Saftey Glover Quin took an interception back for a touchdown, showing early signs of his amazing form that we saw last season, and Eric Ebron, who had struggled in his rookie season had an impressive start capped off with a wide open touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Stafford. The defense was dominant and Philip Rivers had trouble in the pocket, constantly rushed and no open receivers down field.
The Lions finally looked like the team we had been expecting for years, an offensive force with a crushing defense and led 21-3. Then it all came crashing down late in the first half. The Chargers scored their first touchdown in the latter half of the second quarter, on a drive that was kept alive by sloppy penalties from the Lions defense. The Lions offense began to stagnate, and the Chargers got the ball once again with a chance to make it a one possession game before half time. They were close to closing the lead, but corner Darius Slay made a key interception in the end zone to maintain the Lions 11 point lead.
Same Old Problems for the Same Old Lions
In the second half, the Lions seemed helpless. The Chargers pass rush threw Stafford off, and lead to two straight interceptions. The Lions defense looked confused and a step behind, allowing the Chargers to move downfield with ease. Outside of Darius Slay, the secondary seemed unable to cover their receivers. The Chargers roared back into the game and scored 30 straight points to take the lead and eventually win the game.
For the Lions this was a familiar situation. They got off to an impressive start, but as time went on the teams problems became heavily apparent. First of all, is the teams offensive line. LaAdrian Waddle was out for the game, and the rest of the line could not handle the Chargers pass rush. This has been a problem for the Lions for years now, and although they attempted to address it by drafting Laken Tomlinson in the first round, there is still far more work to do.
Losing Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley heavily weakened what was once the NFLs best defensive line, and despite an impressive performance by defensive end Ziggy Ansah, the unit failed to generate much pressure in the second half, and became a non-factor. With DeAndre Levy out injured, the linebackers seemed unfocused and without a leader. They consistently missed tackles and were often caught out of position.
Star receiver Calvin Johnson was absent nearly all game, only targeted 3 times, and an apparent elbow injury to Matt Stafford early in the second half rattled him and his decision making was terrible. There was also a glaring absence of Theo Riddick, as the likes of Abdullah and Zack Zenner were chosen over him. The team seemed complacent on offense as their aggression from the first half seemed to dwindle out. They were on a high and dramatically crashed down. The same complacency which costed them a playoff game against the Cowboys in January.
It was not all bad for the Lions though. Ameer Abdullah had an impressive introduction to the NFL, and Eric Ebron showed that he can live up to his potential. Darius Slay had another great game as he slowly moves his way up to one of the better defensive backs in the league.
The Lions hope to challenge for the division title yet again this season, but have a lot to work out if they hope to reach their goals. The first half of the game showed that they have the ability to run with any team, but the second half showed that they still have many of the problems from the years past. A crucial game against Minnesota next week will give them a huge opportunity to prove themselves against a division rival, and hopefully avid the tag of being known as the “Same Old Lions.”