FIRST DOWNDEFENDING MEGATRON
The Cardinals were dead set on not letting Lions receiver
Teams have used two defenders treat him like a gunner on the line of scrimmage to prevent a free release before, but usually on the outside part of the field at the goal line. The Cardinals did it at times on Sunday when Johnson was in the slot in-between the 20-yard lines.
“We’ve seen it down in the red zone,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said. “We’ve seen him doubled before a lot of different ways. But they certainly took an approach to try and take him out of the game.”
The strategy worked, to an extent. Johnson still had 10 catches for 121 yards, but was held out of the end zone and the Lions only scored 10 points.
The maddening part about the strategy the Cardinals used was that it gave someone else an opportunity to step up and make plays against single coverage.
“We have four other playmakers on the field that are one-on-one when that happens,” Schwartz said. “Also when they’re running that coverage, they only have four to be able to rush.
“So the onus is on us to be able to make a play when that happens. We’ve got to protect the passer, give him time, let somebody else needs to be able to get open. When that’s the situation, that’s an ideal situation for somebody to go make a play. We didn’t get that done.”
“We just didn't have our guys step up and make plays - myself included,” Scheffler admitted after the game.
There was a whole lot of that going around. Eight other players caught a pass besides Johnson but only Scheffler had more than 18 yards.
That’s simply not good enough.
SECOND DOWNSTAFFORD UNDER DURESS
The official stats will read that Stafford was only sacked two times, but make no mistake; he was under much more duress than that.
Stafford took probably his biggest beating of the year against a hard-hitting Cardinals defense and was slow to get up after a number of the eight hits they laid on him.
For the first time since probably the 49ers loss Week 2, an opponent thoroughly dominated the Lions offensive line.
“I thought we got our butts kicked up front,” Schwartz said. “Matt took too many hits.”
The poor play upfront wasn’t reserved to just pass protection, either. The Lions averaged just 3.8 yards per carry for a total of 84 yards on 22 carries.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it or soften the blow,” guard
The Lions gained a total of 312 yards on offense, which is nearly 100 yards below their average, and had seven series that went three plays and out.
THIRD DOWNFUMBLE ON THE PUNT
One of the big turning points in the game came early in the second quarter.
The Lions were leading 7-0 and had just forced a Cardinals punt. On the punt, though, Lions cornerback
The officials originally ruled that the Cardinals had touched the ball and the Lions would maintain possession. They then came back and ruled it a fumble and Cardinals ball after getting together and talking about it.
The change to the call didn’t sit well with Schwartz, who had a long conversation with the officials before heading into the locker room at halftime.
Schwartz wanted to know why the officials changed the call without the use of replay.
“The question there was on the fumbled punt, originally they ruled it was our ball and the onus would have been on the opponent to challenge and there wasn’t conclusive proof,” he said.
“We had one of those Thanksgiving where it was basically the same thing. The onus is on the team that’s making the challenge. When the official came back and said, ‘The ruling on the field stands’, that’s code for ‘We don’t have anything to overturn it’. He didn’t say the ruling’s confirmed, he said it stands and my question was, how come it went from that to flipping it saying it’s their ball because now the onus all of a sudden turned to us. That was that conversation.”
The officials got the call right, it was just the way they got there that didn’t follow protocol.
FOURTH DOWNLIONS AT 4-10
For a sixth-straight week, Lions players were trying to put their heads around another loss.
The problem is, none of them could provide any clear answers as to how they’ve gotten to 4-10.
”Never though we’d be 4-10,” Sims said. “Never even imagined losing or being .500. This was the year to go ahead and get it (done).
“Like I said, if it was something I could shed light on, why this is happening (it would be easier to explain). If it was (us) not practicing hard enough… I don’t even know what to say.”
It was as exasperated the locker room has been following a loss this season. The Lions have lost six straight and no one seems to know how or why or how to turn it around.
"Yeah, I mean, we put a lot of work into this,” Scheffler said. “You have people that want to make comments, rip on us, for a number of things and I guess that's warranted. At the same time, we put a lot of work into this, it's our life, and we're devastated."