Twentyman: Lions need to value the football more

Posted Dec 9, 2013

The Lions have thrown 14 interceptions and lost 14 fumbles so far this season

The ball is the most valued commodity in any football game. The goal is to possess it, catch it, hang onto it, score with it and try to take it away from the opponent.

It’s a simple concept, but one that seems to get lost on the Detroit Lions at times.

Detroit turned the ball over three more times in Sunday’s, 34-20, loss to the Eagles in Philadelphia. All three happened inside the opponents 25-yard line. In total, the Lions fumbled the football seven times.

"It was tough handling the ball early on and we had a couple turnovers, but we have to able to overcome those," quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "Obviously you don’t want to have them with a storm like that early in the game. You’re going to have some, but we have to do a better job of holding onto it."

The weather conditions were bad, with Mother Nature dropping up to four inches of snow into Lincoln Financial Field, but the Eagles played in the same conditions. They had one fumble, which they recovered. Philadelphia did throw one interception that led to the Lions' lone offensive touchdown.

Detroit now has three or more turnovers in four straight games and five of their past six.  

It’s no coincidence the team has lost three of their last four games and failed to take control of the NFC North.

The Lions haven’t won the turnover margin since a Week 6 victory in Cleveland. That was early October.

It’s not just an issue reserved for this season, either.

Looking back through the first 14 weeks in each of the last five years, the Lions have been on the plus side of the turnover margin twice – in 2010 ( 2) and 2011 ( 11). They were minus-11 after week 14 in 2009, minus-six last season and are currently minus-10, which ranks 28th in the NFL.

Now the Lions (7-6) have put themselves in a situation where they have to win their last three games to get to 10 wins and clinch the NFC North. They lose another game and both Chicago and Green Bay can pass them. Chicago still has a chance to get to 10-6 if they win out. Green Bay beat Atlanta on Sunday and can now get to 9-6-1 if they win their last three games.

The Lions come back home for their next two against Baltimore and the New York Giants. If they win both games, it’ll be the first time they’ve won back-to-back home games in consecutive weeks under head coach Jim Schwartz.

It’ll be tough to accomplish that feat, however, if they continue to treat the football like a hot potato.