FIRST DOWN: MAKING PLAYS
Lions head coach Matt Patricia opened his postgame press conference Sunday with a similar message as we've heard in the past.
"Obviously, tough game for us right there," Patricia said again Sunday after Detroit's latest loss, a 19-16 defeat at the hands of the Washington Redskins. "Didn't make enough plays to win."
The Lions haven't made enough plays to win games over the last two months. It's why they've lost four straight, six of their last seven and find themselves at 3-7-1 on the year.
The difficult part about it is that this coaching staff and these players seem incapable of fixing the problem. Just this week the big focus was on limiting some of the crucial penalties that have plagued them recently. Those still popped up Sunday.
Last week, the defense couldn't find a way to make a stop, and gave up over 500 yards of total offense to Dallas in a loss. The offense played well enough to win that contest.
This week, the defense didn't allow a touchdown (four field goals), but the offense turned the ball over four times, including a critical interception in the final minute driving to possibly win the game with a score themselves.
Even special teams, which has been pretty good all year, allowed a kickoff-return touchdown Sunday and missed a field goal.
It was the Redskins that made the game's critical play late. On 3rd and 5 with just 26 seconds left, cornerback Darius Slay allowed rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin just enough separation to catch a 17-yard pass down to the Detroit 21-yard line to set up the winning field goal.
It's a play that's gone the opponent's way too many times late in games this season.
"We have to play as a complete team," cornerback Justin Coleman said. "Offense, defense and special teams all got to be on the same page and all have to be making impact plays out there at the same time."
That hasn't happened enough, and it's why the 2019 season has slipped away from this team.
SECOND DOWN: DRISKEL'S PERFORMANCE
The job of a backup quarterback is to step in when needed, take care of the football, and give the team a chance to win. Lions backup Jeff Driskel did a pretty good job of that during his first two starts against Chicago and Dallas. He turned the ball over just once in those two games, and Detroit had a chance to win late in both contests.
Sunday in Washington was a bit of a different story for Driskel.
"You have to put your team in a position to win," Driskel said. "All day the defense did a great job of giving us the ball back all day, holding them to field goals, we had a chance to go down there and win the game and (I) just have to take care of the ball. That's what it comes down to."
Driskel's interception at the Redskins' 46-yard line with 48 seconds left in the game was a dagger. It was Driskel's third interception of the game, and it led to Washington's game-winning field goal with just 16 seconds left.
"We just can't give opponents extra possessions," Patricia said of Detroit's four turnovers total on offense. "Just makes the game really hard."
THIRD DOWN: SCARBROUGH'S SECOND START
The Lions might have found something in second-year running back Bo Scarbrough.
After a solid debut last week against Dallas, Scarbrough got his second straight start Sunday in Washington and racked up 98 yards on 18 carries for a 5.4 average. The 98 yards are the second most by a Lions running back this year (Kerryon Johnson, 125).
"He's done a great job with his opportunity," Patricia said of Scarbrough. "I think he's learning the offense. I think he's running hard. I think he gives us an element of toughness downhill. It means a lot to him. He cares."
Scarbrough did have a fumble in the game, which he lamented in the locker room after the game, along with the loss.
"We lost the game, so all the other stuff doesn't really matter to me," Scarbrough said. "I just want to win. I want to celebrate for 10 minutes after the game. That's why I play the game, to win."
He hasn't won as Detroit's starting running back the last two weeks, but that's hardly been his fault. He's had a nice start to his Lions career, and should look to make it three good starts Thursday against a stout Bears' run defense on Thanksgiving.
FOURTH DOWN: SHORT WEEK
There's no time for Detroit to feel sorry for themselves or sulk after another setback Sunday.
That's because Detroit's annual Thanksgiving Day Game is Thursday. They'll welcome division rival Chicago to Ford Field in front of a national audience. It's a quick turnaround for the Lions, which essentially makes Sunday a Wednesday in their world.
"We don't have a lot of time to worry about a lot of things here other than getting mistakes fixed and then trying to get ready for the Bears," Patricia said. "It's a little bit unique in that situation for us this week."