For the first time in quite a long time, the Lions faced a defense that played them straight up. There was no rolling coverage or tricks. It was man vs. man, and the shorthanded Lions couldn’t make enough plays to win.
Without All Pro receiver
"It was pretty much like everybody in the league would (play us without Johnson)," Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "They played it much more straight up. They keyed in a lot more on stopping our run game and made us prove we could beat them throwing the ball."
The offense had just 222 passing yards, their lowest output of the season, and got just 64 yards from their run game, which compounded their problems.
"We did some good things throwing the ball in a couple instances, but not enough," Linehan said.
It’s still uncertain if the Lions will be without Johnson for a second-straight game this week in Cleveland as he deals with a knee injury suffered two weeks ago vs. Chicago. If Johnson doesn’t play, Linehan said it’s up to everyone to pick up the slack.
"What you do is the next guy has to step in and do the job," Linehan said. "We’ve got guys that are willing and working really hard. I’m proud of how hard they are working at stepping into situations that maybe weren’t expected of them when the season started.
"Everybody deals with that in the NFL and we’re no different than anyone else. We’ve got to go out and get the job done regardless if you’ve got an injury or not. It’s just part of the game."
Everyone from quarterback
"Tough challenge," Linehan said of the Cleveland defense. "Their whole defense is playing well. Their front seven is making a lot of impact, but their defense is top five in passes defensed. Overall, their defense from top to bottom is playing as good as any defense we’ve faced."
That means Linehan will have to have a good game plan as well.