Well the Lions do it again, as they once again cost themselves a victory as they lose to the New York Giants in overtime with a final score of 23-20. While every loss hurts, this loss hurts the most for Lion fans because this loss eliminates the Lions from playoff contention.
Honestly, it’s the same old story. The Lions loss this game because of the turnovers and inconsistent scoring. They had multiple chances to win this game but they never took advantage of those opportunities.
Which is why I have to once again give credit to the Lions defense who continues to be the sole reason the Lions offense had a chance to win this game. The defensive did a great job of containing the run game. Nick Fairley, Ndamukong Suh, Ezekiel Ansah controlled the line of scrimmage and made plenty of plays in the backfield , holding the Giants to only 41 rushing yards in this game.
When it comes to the quarterback pressure, the defense was solid, they struggled early in the first half to create pressure but they did a better job in the second half of getting to quarterback Eli Manning. The secondary was solid today against the Giants., they did a solid job of covering the receivers and making them work to make great plays. Now there were obviously some lapses in the secondary, mainly Bill Bentley who was scored on early in the first half but besides that the defense was solid.
Now don’t misunderstand, I am not saying that the Lions defense is the best in the NFL, because we all know that’s not true. I’m simply saying that the Lions defense has done their job all season long, which keeping the Lions in games by containing various offenses every week. You look at the final score and see that the Giants win 23-20, keep in mind that 17 of the Giants points were scored off turnovers by the Lions offense. If the Lions don’t turn the ball over, Giants probably only score six points in that game. So while the Lions defense had some momentarily lapses in coverage, they still gave the Lions offense multiple opportunities to win this game, the Lions offense just didn’t take advantage.
Just like last time it all starts with the turnovers. The Lions committed THREE turnovers in this game. The first turnover came from Reggie Bush who fumbled the ball while in Giant territory. Then the last two turnovers were interceptions that of course came from quarterback Matthew Stafford. The first interception was completely Stafford’s fault for the main reason that he telegraphed a pass that was picked off by defensive end Justin Tuck. The second interception blame goes to both Stafford and tight end Joseph Fauria, meaning that Stafford’s pass wasn’t the best but it was catch-able which is why the I have to put some blame on Fauria who didn’t catch the ball. Nonetheless, the point being that all three of the turnovers were all avoidable and they help the Lions to lose this game. I can’t say it enough, the Lions can’t constantly turn the ball over and expect the defense to make up for their constant mistakes. The Giants score 17 points off of turnovers in this game, if the Lions don’t turn the ball over THREE times, the Giants only score six points in this game.
Let me remind fans, that the turnovers are not the only problem, the other problem goes back the Lions scoring consistently, something they continue to struggle with. Once again the defense did a great job of containing the Giants offense and when it came time for the Lions offense to play their part and score, they couldn’t do it. Now, I know the commentators made a big deal about wide receiver Calvin Johnson not being able to play at 100% but unlike the commentators, I don’t feel that’s the reason the Lions loss this game. Besides the turnovers, Stafford did a good job of spreading the ball around and getting everyone involved but like always Stafford continued to struggle with touch and accuracy. Then when it wasn’t Stafford’s struggling with accuracy and touch, it was the receivers dropping passes and missing opportunities to make a play. I say again that the Lions lead the leagues in drop passes, which continues to hurt the Lions ability to score.
When it comes to the run game, I felt running back Joique Bell performed great which is no surprise. He did a great job of carrying the load while Bush decided to hang his head down after an early fumble. I have said it before and I will say again, Bell is more than capable of carrying the load full-time for the Lions if given the opportunity. It was also nice to see running back Theo Riddick score his first touchdown of the season.
Again, I must point the finger at the coaching staff. I understand that we have to put blame on the players because they are obviously on the field but you have to put blame on the coaching staff as well. The consistent turnovers and costly penalties go back to Coach Jim Schwartz initiating a form of discipline and unfortunately he hasn’t which is why the Lions have struggled with turnovers and penalties all season.
Which leads me back to my point that the Lions cost themselves this game against the Giants, just like they have done all season long against other teams and it’s because of that fact that the Lions will not be playing in this year’s playoffs. Honestly, they have no one to blame but themselves, some will say if the Lions had won this game they could have possibly gone to playoffs. Yes, it’s possible but the point being that the Lions should have never been in this position. I say again that the Lions could have been 14-1 right now with complete control of the NFC North and fighting for home field advantage in the playoffs. Unfortunately for them they aren’t doing that, mainly because they put themselves in unnecessary situations against Arizona, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York Giants. Now don’t misunderstand, I am not saying that the Lions are a superstar team, I’m simply saying go back and look at the film and scores of those games and you will see the Lions lost those games because of turnovers and missed opportunities which is why they are in this predicament now.
Moving forward, the Lions should look to finish strong against the Minnesota Vikings but more importantly it’s time for the Lions to prepare for the future, which means taking a good look at head coach Jim Schwartz, the rest of the coaching staff and general manager Martin Mayhew. After they make those decisions, they can move forward with the upcoming NFL Draft and free agency, because one thing is clear, the Lions are not far away from being a good consistent team, they just need a few more pieces and the right coach and possibly general manager to take them to the next level. However, until that time, happy holidays to everyone even the Lions.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com