Now the grind begins.
Sunday night in San Francisco was a glamour night for the Lions. They were on center stage, playing the San Francisco 49ers on national television.
It was a marquee game on the schedule, and the 49ers stole the scene. They were the stars going in, and they took a curtain call, exiting with a 27-19 victory.
Now the grind begins for the Lions. There are no marquee matchups for awhile. The next game is Sunday against the winless Titans in Nashville. The next week they’re at home against the Vikings.
After that, it’s a bye for Week 5.
Nobody is getting excited about the Titans or Vikings these days. Maybe the bye is the highlight.
None of that matters, though. The Lions can’t get caught looking behind them. They can’t dwell on the opportunity that they failed to cash in on Sunday night. They weren’t awful, but they weren’t good, either.
So they grind on.
This week’s Monday Countdown focuses on what teams do when they’re trying to prove that they’re good. It’s no secret. They win.
There’s also a look at what some quarterbacks and teams have done in the first two weeks – what Cam Newton of the Panthers is finding out, to name one.
There’s a look at who likes the Lions the most next week, a streak that was snapped in San Francisco, how the Giants want revenge against the Bucs for what they consider a cheap shot, and the best and worst of the NFL after Week 2.
We start with the Lions:1. Grind on:
Coach Jim Schwartz has preached staying in the present – practices and games – and he was on message after Sunday night’s loss.
He didn’t like the way his team played and said so, but he moved on quickly.
“There were some teams that won the first week – maybe won convincingly – and turned around and lost this week,” Schwartz said. “It’s 16 games (the regular season). You need to be able to bounce back.
“We can’t turn one loss into two.”
The message could not be clearer. Don’t dwell on losing to the 49ers, except to correct mistakes and move on. If they do, they can’t lose games they should win.
And the Titans and Vikings are teams they should beat to get to 3-1 at their bye week.2. Stafford’s streak:
Going into the game, he had four straight regular season games with at least 350 yards passing. He wound up with 230 against the 49ers.
My opinion about the streak was that it didn’t mean much. And having it broken doesn’t mean much, either.
There should be no worries about Stafford going into a slump, even though having four interceptions in the first two games equals his total for the first eight games of last season.
He’s too good, and has too many good receivers to have a prolonged slump.3. The spread
: The Lions were favored by three points over the Titans when the odds for Week 3 were posted Sunday night in Las Vegas.
Somebody likes the Lions – or hates the Titans.
Or a combination of both.
(Note: the point spread regarding Lions games is included as information items only and is not a recommendation to bet on any team.)4. Worst Lions stat Sunday:
Giving up three straight third-down conversions on the 49ers final possession – all on passes to Michael Crabtree. The guy isn’t that good.5. Giant wrath:
Giants coach Tom Coughlin was angered by Bucs Coach Greg Schiano having his players rushing Eli Manning hard on a kneel-down on the last play of the game.
Coughlin lectured Schiano on the field after the game, and criticized the tactic in his post-game press conference.
Schiano countered by saying that’s how he did it at Rutgers, and he plans to continue it.
Schiano will find out that Rutgers is not the NFL.6. Handshake III:
It is turning into a franchise, with Coughlin and Schiano taking over the starring roles.
No big deal. How many actors have played James Bond?7. Newton’s law:
Sometimes less is more for a quarterback, and Cam Newton is finding that out in Carolina. He passed for 422 yards in his first pro game last year and followed it up with 432 in the second. Both games were losses.
The Panthers are 1-1 after Sunday’s 35-27 home win over the Saints. Newton passed for 252 yards. He had 303 in a a 16-10 loss at Tampa Bay in Week 1.
Newton had 83 pass attempts in his first two games as a rookie. This year he has 53.
His legs are as good as ever – 13 runs for 71 yards and a TD Sunday.8. Coach Brees:
The Saints’ 0-2 start is proving again how important coaching is in the NFL.
It was somebody’s pipe dream that QB Drew Brees would make up for having head coach Sean Payton suspended for the season as a result of the bounty program run by the Saints.
The Saints aren’t close to the team they were under Payton, and it hasn’t helped that designated interim head coach Joe Vitt also was suspended for half the season.
In two games, the Saints have five turnovers, and Brees has an even split of 5-5 in TD passes to picks.9. Ref checks bounce:
It’s amazing that someone could find a video of former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s appearance on the Dating Game in 1978, but the NFL didn’t know one of its replacement refs is a rabid Saints fan.
The NFL didn’t know about side judge Brian Stropolo’s allegiance to the Saints until notified by ESPN Sunday morning. He was spotted wearing Saints’ garb on his Facebook page, and he tailgated before a Saints preseason game last month.
The NFL replaced him for Sunday’s Panthers-Saints game.
Granholm was 19 when she appeared on the Dating Game. An unbiased, apolitical – and probably politically incorrect – view is that Michigan’s former first lady was hot.
Nor so hot, apparently, is the NFL’s background checks for replacement refs.
How hard would it have been for the league to do a cursory check of Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to see if anything might be amiss?10. Patriot games:
Adam Vinatieri’s clutch kicking was instrumental in the Patriots winning three Super Bowls, from 2001-2004, and he’s still deadly in the clutch.
Vinatieri, who signed with the Colts in 2006, connected from 53 yards with eight seconds left Sunday to give the Colts a 23-20 win over the Vikings.
Meanwhile, Steve Gostkowski – who replaced Vinatieri and has performed well – was wide left from 43 yards in the Patriots’ shocking 20-18 home loss to the Cardinals.
It’s another example of the feast-or-famine existence of kickers.11. The NFL’s top dozen after Week 1:
1. 49ers (2-0): Great defense, and enough good plays from QB Alex Smith.
2. Broncos (1-0): Big road game Monday night in Atlanta.
3. Texans (2-0): Outscored Dolphins, Jags, 57-15 in first two. Florida Gators would be tougher.
4. Packers (1-1): Defense beat Bears to get them to .500.
5. Eagles (2-0): Close wins over Browns, Ravens showed heart.
6. Cardinals (2-0): Winning counts, and they beat Patriots.
7. Falcons (1-0): Big home game Monday night vs. Broncos. Winner gets the No. 2 spot.
8. Ravens (1-1): Tough loss to Eagles.
9. Chargers (2-0): Not dominating. Just winning. And saving Norv Turner’s job – again.
10. Patriots (1-1): Losing counts, and they lost to Cardinals. Tom Brady has not been on top of his game.
11. Redskins (1-1): Griffin was good, rest of the team not so good vs. Rams.
12. Seahawks (1-1): Beating Cowboys puts them in top 12.12. The NFL’s bottom 5:
5. Titans (0-2): 23 points in 2 games, face Lions next.
4. Saints (0-2): Tied with Chiefs for most points allowed (75).
3. Chiefs (0-2)): Big losses, bigger disappointment.
2. Browns (0-2): Weeden, Richardson, looked like good rookies.
1. Jaguars (0-2): It gets worse with Blaine Gabbert hurting.