LIONS INSIDER

TWENTYMAN: The good and the bad from Sunday's loss

Posted Oct 7, 2013

Tim Twentyman looks at the highs and lows that played a part in the Lions' 22-9 loss at Green Bay

The Detroit Lions lost their 23rd consecutive game on the road to Green Bay on Sunday and the game was never really in doubt.

The Lions failed to generate any cohesiveness on offense without receiver Calvin Johnson and spoiled a pretty good game from the defense. The Lions held the Packers to their lowest point total of the season (22), but did give up two big plays and had two crucial penalties that resulted in 16 points.

There’s always more bad than good when we’re talking about a loss, so here’s a little of both from Sunday’s 22-9 defeat.

THE BAD …

WHERE'S THE VERTICAL PASSING GAME?

The Lions were without the best receiver in the NFL in Calvin Johnson, and that severely limited their vertical passing game, especially on the outside.

The two largest plays in the passing game for the Lions were for 25 and 22 yards, respectively, and those came in the middle of the field from the tight end (Brandon Pettigrew) and slot (Ryan Broyles) positions.

That against a Packers pass defense that ranked 28th in the NFL entering the game.

The Lions haven’t needed big plays down the field the first month of the season because their receivers have been able to turn short passes into long plays. However, that’s not always going to be the case, like Sunday, and the Lions need to be able to make a play from time-to-time down the field.

By comparison, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed five passes of more than 20 yards Sunday and all five were on the edge.

It hasn’t been a problem just this week for the Lions.

According to Stats, LLC, the Lions are just 2-of-9 passing for 60 yards and an interception on passes that travel at least 21-plus yards in the air this season. Stafford’s passer rating on those attempts is 15.3, the third lowest in the NFL.

TWO COSTLY PLAYS; TWO COSTLY PENALTIES

Somewhat lost in the poor play of the offense was another pretty good performance by the Lions defense.

The defense held the league’s second-ranked scoring offense to their lowest output of the season (22). That came out to five field goals and one touchdown, but the touchdown was a big one, and it came off the heels of a field goal set up by a 67-yard run by Randall Cobb.

The Packers had six "explosive" plays of 20-plus yards in the game, but none bigger than those two.

The touchdown was an 83-yard catch along the left sideline to James Jones. It was a result of both a good throw-and-catch by the Packers, and some miscommunication between the Lions. Cornerback Chris Houston said after the game he thought he had help over the top on the play and looked up and didn't.

Safety Louis Delmas took some of the blame for the Cobb run for making a bad pre-snap adjustment.

The defense also had two very costly penalties that prevented them getting off the field on third and fourth down and led to two field goals.

The first was a tripping penalty on Ndamukong Suh on third-and-7. Suh was getting held on the play, but was flagged for tripping Rodgers as he ran by him. The play resulted in an incomplete pass.

The second was a holding penalty on cornerback Bill Bentley on a fourth-and-4 play. Instead of getting off the field after an incompletion, the Packers got themselves a 52-yard field goal.

OFFENSIVE LINE WOES

There were legitimate questions entering the season concerning how a revamped Lions offensive line, with three new starters, including a rookie, would perform.

The Lions quickly quelled any question marks with their play through the first month of the season. They even led the NFL entering Sunday’s game with just three sacks allowed.

But they regressed in a big way at Lambeau Field.

For really the first time this season, the line lost the battle at the line of scrimmage. They averaged just 3.4 yards rushing on 19 carries and Stafford was under siege for most of the game.

Linebackers Nick Perry (2), Clay Matthews and Brad Jones all recorded sacks off the edge.

It certainly wasn’t the best outing for tackles Riley Reiff, Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard, who replaced Fox (knee injury) in the second half.

THE GOOD …

ZIGGY ANSAH'S PLAY

Ziggy Ansah is proving the Lions were right about him.

The rookie defensive end was taken No. 5 overall and his production through five games has certainly warranted the pick.

Ansah had another sack on Sunday and added a tackle-for-loss, a quarterback hit and forced a fumble.

Through five games, Ansah is leading all rookies with 3.5 sacks. His two forced fumbles on the season are the second most in the NFL among all players. St. Louis defensive end Robert Quinn leads the league with three.

Ansah is big, fast and plays the run just as good as he does rushing the passer. He’s proving to be a complete package for the Lions, and he’s only going to get better.

PUNTING PLAY

Speaking of good draft picks, rookie punter Sam Martin continues to impress.

He’s moved from sixth to fourth and now second in the NFL in punting the last three weeks.

His 49.5 average is second behind only Brandon Fields (50.6) of Miami.

Martin has averaged at least 50 yards per punt in four of five games this year. If not for a 38.0 average Week 1 vs. Minnesota, Martin could be leading the NFL in punting.

Martin’s net punting average of 42.1 ranks seventh in the NFL.

LINEBACKER PLAY

The Lions were in the nickel 90 percent of the defensive snaps Sunday, which limited outside linebackers Ashlee Palmer and Rocky McIntosh to only seven combined plays on defense.

DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch, however, played every snap on defense. They combined for 25 tackles.

Levy, in particular, had a great game with 14 tackles, three for loss and defended a pass.

His understanding of the defense and his responsibility within the scheme has taken a significant leap forward this season.

Levy, Ndamukong Suh and Ziggy Ansah have played terrific for the Lions defense this year.