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Turnovers Contribute to Loss at Seattle

Posted Nov 8, 2009

After one quarter of play, it looked like the Detroit Lions had the potential to coast to victory.

Up 17-0 after capitalizing on two Seattle turnovers and a four-and-out, it seemed all they had to do was retain momentum by controlling the clock and continuing to score.

But two second-quarter interceptions allowed Seattle back in the game – Detroit was up 17-13 at the half – and three more in the second half sealed the deal for the Seahawks.

“We all know how much turnovers mean in the game of football and today was a classic example,” said Head Coach Jim Schwartz. “We got turnovers early, we capitalized, got up and then we gave the ball back too much. That turned the game.”

These types of games happen when you have a young offense led by a rookie quarterback, but Schwartz says all the blame shouldn’t be put on quarterback Matthew Stafford’s shoulders.

Stafford made risky decisions on passes that turned into interceptions, but it was those risky decisions that helped the Lions build the 17-0 lead in the first place.

“It’s hard to say at that point, ‘Okay, what’s been successful, turn it down,’” said Schwartz.

“There’s just times we need to help him out all together. We need to be able to hold up a little bit longer in pass rush; we need to be able to make catches, he needs to make smarter decisions, he needs to make more accurate passes. It’s not just one person. It’s all around. The turnovers are on our whole offense.”

Stafford placed the blame on himself.

"It's frustrating,” he said. “I didn't play well. I just made some poor throws, really. I was aggressive sometimes, but if I make a good throw in those situations maybe we're coming out with touchdowns instead of picks. Obviously I can't turn the ball over like that."

Following the game, Schwartz was asked whether Stafford had “taken a step back” in his progress. Obviously the injury kept him out of two games and he has been shaking the rust off, but Schwartz didn’t seem too concerned about the progress of his rookie quarterback.

“Where I think he took a step back (in an area) he had passed early in the season (was with) the interceptions where he was too aggressive down the field where it warranted checking the ball down or making a little bit of a safer play,” said Schwartz.

Over Stafford’s first four games, he was definitely making progress as it pertained to checking the ball down. He was finding the outlet and avoiding interceptions instead of making the risky throw downfield.

Not all of the interceptions fall into that category, however. One of the second-quarter interceptions was tipped and, at the end of the game, Schwartz says risks are warranted.

“You have to be aggressive when those things happen,” he said. “We (also) had too many times where we were in 2nd-and-long on offense – we lost yards on first down – and that makes it difficult on the quarterback. But he has to do a better job of taking care of the ball for sure.”

With Detroit playing well against Pittsburgh and then turning in disappointing performances at Green Bay and against St. Louis, a road win would have been a nice boost for Schwartz and the now 1-7 Lions.

"Normally in these types of losses, coaches are hurting,” said veteran linebacker Larry Foote. “We'll probably get some of (his anger) tomorrow, but he didn't have to scream (after the game). Everybody in this locker room is hurting right now."

The Lions had hoped the past two weeks would mark a fresh start after the bye week, but two losses have instead been the outcome.

There is still that hope for improvement, however, with a team that is learning how to win with new players, young players and a new coaching regime.

“We’re not going to be demoralized,” said Schwartz. “We’re going to be mad, we’re going to be determined, we’re going to take steps to address what happened today, but we’re not going to be demoralized. We know exactly what happened in this game.”

Fixing it will be the focus this week as the team prepares for Minnesota.

“Every loss is (disappointing),” said tight end Casey FitzSimmons. “When you put so much toward it and you watch your teammates work; everybody works their tails off and to lose games in the NFL hurts.

“Everybody’s out there trying like hell to win and it hurts. The only thing that feels good in this business is a win.”