The Detroit Lions lost their second consecutive contest Sunday, falling 44-20 at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens. As usual, Detroit got off to a rough start, with the Ravens holding a 20-0 lead at halftime. The Lions cut the score to 20-13 by the end of the third quarter, but they wouldn’t get any closer as Baltimore ran away with the victory. Detroit now sits at an even 6-6 on the season, tied with the 6-6 Green Bay Packers and four games behind the 10-2 Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North. Here are three takeaways from the Lions week 13 defeat:
Week 13 Detroit Lions Takeaways
Another Slow Start
Entering Week 13, the Lions ranked 26th in the NFL with an average of only 2.7 points scored in the first quarter. That number didn’t get any better on Sunday. Detroit was held scoreless the entire first-half, putting up their first points of the contest three minutes into the third quarter via a Theo Riddick four-yard run. That score cut the Ravens lead to 20-7, and a Tion Green touchdown run- his first career touchdown- made it 20-13 ten minutes later. But Detroit couldn’t complete the comeback attempt, and the Ravens pulled away for the blowout win.
Slow starts have been a common narrative for the Lions over the past two seasons. Even last year, they sat a meager 23rd with an average of 3.5 points scored in the first quarter. But during that 2016 playoff campaign, the problem was mostly ignored. With Matthew Stafford leading the charge, Detroit would consistently make up for their early deficits with clutch fourth-quarter comebacks, pulling out close win after close win. But this season, the Lions haven’t had that same luck.
Contrary to last year, Detroit’s early-game struggles are proving to be too much to handle. After a historic 2016 that saw the Lions win eight games via fourth-quarter comebacks, that same magic hasn’t carried over into 2017. Maybe the team should start coming up with a gameplan other than trying to trying to steal away wins in the final 12 minutes.
The Offensive Line Struggles… Again
Similar to their slow starts, the inability of Detroit’s offensive line has been another consistent problem facing the Motor City. Stafford was sacked another three times on Sunday, moving his total to 36, good for third most in the NFL. Two of those sacks resulted in fumbles, one of which was lost.
Not only that, but the Ravens had consistent pressure on the Lions star quarterback even when they couldn’t bring him down. A prime example of this came with six minutes left in the game, when a huge hit by Ravens lineman Willie Henry forced Stafford to sail the ball over the head of Marvin Jones. The pass was intercepted by cornerback Marlon Humphrey– his first career pick- and the game was pretty much clinched for Baltimore. Even worse for the Lions was that Stafford was slow to get up after the big hit. He eventually exited the contest with a broken finger.
The deficiencies of their offensive line didn’t completely inhibit Detroit’s offense, though. Stafford still completed 24 of 29 passes (including 20 in row prior to his interception, a team record) for 292 yards and a touchdown. The Florida native also decided to focus more downfield in Baltimore. He averaged 10.07 yards per attempt Sunday, just the second time Stafford’s posted a value above 10 this season. His favorite target was Jones, who hauled in four receptions for 90 yards.
But if the Lions want to maximize their potential on offense, their offensive line is going to need to improve. This better be a focus heading into the 2018 offseason.
There’s no other way to look at it: Sunday was an embarrassing day for Detroit’s defense.
Joe Flacco shredded the Lions secondary for 269 yards and two touchdowns, 116 of those yards going to Mike Wallace. Flacco’s 83.4 QBR and 105.0 passer rating both mark his second-highest values on the year for each respective statistic.
Furthermore, second-year back Alex Collins tore apart Detroit’s defense as well. The 2016 fifth-round pick out of Arkansas rushed for 75 yards on only 15 carries with two touchdowns.
Overall, both the Lions pass and rush defense rank a lowly 23rd in the NFL. These are numbers that must improve for a team that aims to stay in the playoff hunt year in and year out. Hopefully, that improvement starts next Sunday, when the Lions take on the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay.
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