If any of us thought that the Detroit Lions' disappointing 2020 season would never be revisited in some form or fashion, we were wrong.
There were flashes of 2020 -- penalties, defensive breakdowns, an offense that never got on track until the fourth quarter -- in the Lions' 26-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field Saturday night.
What we have learned over time -- and should never forget -- is that those bad games can return at any time. In fact, it's almost a certainty that they will.
That's especially true when there is a new front office and coaching staff undertaking a massive rebuilding program, as is the case with head coach Dan Campbell and GM Brad Holmes.
Among the other things we learned include the following: The battle for the backup quarterback job seems to be settling itself the way it should, on the field; punter Jack Fox has shown in two preseason games that his Pro Bowl season of 2020 was not a fluke and offensive linemen look at more than their own position in analyzing games.
We start with the game:
The first half was about as one-sided as it gets, even for a preseason game. The Steelers had a 20-0 lead at halftime, and veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger shredded their secondary. He completed eight of 10 passes for 137 yards and two TDs -- all in the first quarter.
The Lions' defense simply was overmatched, and the offense did nothing until quarterback David Blough took over for Tim Boyle in the third quarter.
Campbell did not mince words in his postgame interview with T.J. Lang for 97.1 The Ticket.
"We've got to clean this stuff up and go find a way to win this game," Campbell said in reference to the first half.
"We can't ignore that crap in the first half. That's what it was. It wasn't good.
"It was pretty glaring. There was no rush. Offensively, we dropped balls. there was no rush.
"All that stuff causes you to lose. We did that."
QB 2: Never assume that any quarterback job is wrapped up.
Boyle appeared to be the runaway favorite to be Jared Goff’s backup at the start of training camp, but Blough is making a compelling case that the job should be his.
He outplayed Boyle in the preseason opener against Buffalo, and he did it again against the Steelers.
Boyle started and played into the third quarter, completing seven of 15 passes for 44 yards.
Blough took over in the third quarter and led the Lions to their 20 points -- all in the fourth quarter. He completed 12 of 17 passes for 143 yards and a TD.
Lang made this observation on the air in his role as the sideline analyst for 97.1 The Ticket': "There's a different energy with him."
Pro Bowl punter: Fox had a 66-yard punt in last week's game vs. the Bills. He topped that against the Steelers, booming a 70-yarder among his five punts. He averaged 57.2 yards on five punts.
From the trenches: Former Lions offensive lineman Lomas Brown had this observation on the Lions' first-half defense in his role as analyst on 97.1: "They're catching us in the middle of the field. Our middle is wide open, and they're taking advantage of it."