Penalties and mistakes result in 31-17 loss at New Orleans

Posted Dec 4, 2011

It’s the same old sad song and dance for the Lions.

Another post-game press conference talking about penalties and missed opportunities in their 31-17 loss to the Saints, Sunday.

 “We made a big point last year at pretending we were on a playoff run,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said after the game.” Guess what? We’re in one right now and we need to act accordingly. And by that I mean we need to be a team that doesn’t beat ourselves.”

 The Lions were flagged 11 times for 107 yards, which included two unnecessary roughness penalties, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and three offensive pass interference penalties.

 “All the penalties hurt us,” Stafford said. “Stupid penalties. I’m about tired of talking about it.

“Before the play, after the whistle, we did some dumb things. It really set us back (and) we can’t have that, we know that.”

 Even with all the penalties, the Lions almost had another one of their patented second-half comebacks in them.

But they were too busy getting in their own way to complete it.

After falling behind 24-7 at halftime, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford put the team on his shoulders and got them to within a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

But his shoulders weren’t wide enough to carry the defense or the barrage of penalties from his teammates on offense.

Stafford simply didn’t get enough help from other side of the football or from his receivers

Stafford completed 31-of-44 passes for 408 yards with a touchdown and a late interception.

But his effort was all for not.

One of the big story lines coming into Sunday was how the Lions' injury-plagued secondary, without starters Louis Delmas or Chris Houston, would hold up against the Saints’ No. 1 passing offense.

The Lions wouldn’t like the answer to that question.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees carved up the Lions secondary with surgical precision the tune of 342 yards and three touchdowns.

“We had some injuries but that’s absolutely no excuse,” Schwartz said. “We have paid professionals that have a lot of experience that stepped in today and particularly in the first half we played poorly on defense. We never gave ourselves a chance. We didn’t get the job done in coverage. We didn’t get the job done at rushing the passer.”

 The Saints had 438 yards of total offense.

There was one point when Brees completed 13-straight passes. He finished 26-of-36 passing with no interceptions.

Stafford got the Lions to within 24-17 after a 9-yard touchdown pass to running back Maurice Morris at the end of the third quarter.

The Lions had a chance to cut into the lead even further after the defense held the Saints to a three-and-out on their next possession, but squandered the opportunity when kicker Jason Hanson missed a 55-yard field goal wide left.

Hanson had another field goal blocked at the end of the first half when it appeared the Saints defender who blocked the kick was offside. A flag wasn’t thrown on the play.

After the Hanson miss, Brees orchestrated a seven-play, 55-yard drive that culminated in a Darren Sproles 6-yard touchdown to push the lead back to two scores at 31-17.

The Lions never got any closer because they couldn’t get out of their own way.

“Just bad mistakes at bad times and good football teams don’t do that,” said Lions defensive tackle Kyle Vanden Bosch. “Playoff teams don’t do that and good football teams don’t do that.”