Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this before.
This is a different Detroit Lions team than the others we’ve seen of late.
It really is. It’s tougher, more resilient and more committed than others of past seasons.
This week’s Monday Countdown looks at the Lions’ makeup as they head into their bye week after Sunday’s 34-30 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Ford Field.
There’s also a comment about the team from head coach Matt Patricia, quarterback Matthew Stafford telling the media the message he gave to his teammates when they hit a low point that could have unraveled them Sunday, but apparently propelled them to rally instead, and Patricia’s comment on Stafford’s legendary toughness.
There’s a recap of a two-fumble sequence that prompted Stafford’s speech and how the Lions reacted, takeaways on the offense, defense and special teams, a look at who’s trending and the bottom line.
We start with the message from the coach:
1. Patricia speaks: It was a grueling day's work for both teams, and the Chiefs needed to put together a 79-yard drive to score the winning TD with 20 seconds left.
It was the Lions’ first loss in a tough opening four-pack of the season, and it left them with a 2-1-1 record.
Patricia was asked what direction the team is heading with the bye coming up.
“We’ll find out as we go through the season,” he said. “There’s certainly some things in here to be really proud of, as we take a look at it, as we get into the bye week, we’ll find out things we need to fix. And that will be a key part of it.
“We’re going to have to go fix those things as we go forward. We’re going to go compete with anybody that is put in front of us, but we expect to win no matter who we play. We’re going out to play and compete and win.”
2. The test: The Lions made mistakes – plenty in fact. They fumbled away two scoring chances early in the third quarter that left them with no points when they had the ball at the Chiefs’ five-yard line and the one on successive possessions.
There have been times in the past when the Lions continued the giveaway. They didn’t do that Sunday. They fought back.
On third quarter fumble No. 1, the defense promptly took the ball away from the Chiefs.
Fumble No. 2 was by running back Kerryon Johnson on the next possession on first and goal at the one.
Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland picked the ball out of the pile of players and ran 100 yards for a touchdown and a 20-13 Chiefs lead.
It could have had the Lions thinking about their upcoming mini-break from football, but they didn’t.
They drove to a field goal and a touchdown on their next two possessions for a 23-20 lead.
In a span of some eight minutes, the Lions turned the momentum from game gone to game on.
And it stayed that way until the Chiefs scored the wining TD with 20 seconds left.
3. Stafford speaks: He was listed on the official injury report as being questionable with a hip injury, and he clearly was at less than full strength physically. He led the offense with his arm – three TD passes – and his legs by running twice for 18 yards.
And he also led with his message after Johnson’s fumble.
“My point was, if we scored a touchdown there, the game wasn’t going to end,” Stafford said. “We didn’t win the game if we scored a touchdown there. There was a lot of football left to play.
“We have to keep playing.”
And they did just that.
4. Patricia speaks on Stafford: Stafford wouldn’t talk about his health, but Patricia spoke up for his quarterback, as he often has in the past.
“He's one of the toughest guys we’ve got,” Patricia said. “There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. We’ve got a lot of guys out there that are banged up ... and he’s leading the charge.
“I’ll tell you all the time, I’m just appreciative so much that he’s our quarterback, and that he goes out and he fights and he works and he grinds and tries to get better.
“They keep fighting when they follow him.”
5. Takeaways, offense:
- Receivers: They are taking turns as Stafford’s go-to guy, and it was Kenny Golladay’s turn in key situations. He had five caches for 67 yards and two TDs.
- Red zone, goal to go: It wasn’t good enough in either category – three of five in the red zone, and scoring only two TDs with goal to go six times.
- Bit players: Who were those guys? Wide receiver Marvin Hall had two catches for 47 yards. Running back J.D. Mckissic ran four times for 30 yards, with a long run of 26 yards. And No. 3 tight end Logan Thomas had three catches for 25 yards.
6. Takeaways, defense:
- Two fumble recoveries – to go with one on special teams on the second-half kickoff – gives the Lions nine recoveries for the season. Getting takeaways has been a point of emphasis, and they’ve been getting them.
- Depth in the secondary showed in keeping Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes from throwing a TD pass for only the second time in his 21 career regular-season starts. The Lions played the entire game without Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay, and without safety Quandre Diggs after he went out in the second quarter with a hamstring injury.
- As is the case with most teams, tight end Travis Kelce was too much to handle. On eight targets, he had seven catches for 85 yards. The Lions did a good job a week ago in the second half against Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, but it was a different story for Kelce.
7. Takeaways, special teams:
- Kicker: Matt Prater rebounded after missing an extra point and a field goal two weeks ago, and having a field-goal attempt blocked last week. He made all three of his field-goal attempts – from 25, 48 and 53 yards – and all three extra points.
- Returns: After getting a 100-yard kickoff return from Jamal Agnew last week for a touchdown, the Lions’ return game was negligible Sunday. Agnew had one kickoff return for 15 yards, and he was thrown for a one-yard loss on his only punt return. Ty Johnson had a 15-yard kickoff return.
- Don Muhlbach – who else? -- was the long snapper on the All-Time Lions team that was announced at halftime Sunday.
- Up: Running game. 186 yards on the ground and 125 for Kerryon Johnson. Both are season highs.
- Down: Pass rush. No sacks on Mahomes, and he escaped on six scrambles to gain 54 yards – including a crucial fourth and eight on the game-winning possession.
- Holding: Home field. A win over the Chargers and the loss to the Chiefs makes the Lions .500 at home. That’s not good enough for a team with playoff aspirations.
9. Bottom line: The Lions went into Sunday’s game in first place with a 2-0-1 record, and with teams wondering if they really were legitimate contenders in the NFC North.
The loss dropped them all the way to third place – at 2-1-1 behind the Packers and Bears – but they probably gained more supporters with the way they played the Chiefs.