As they reach the halfway point in their season with next Sunday's road game against the Minnesota Vikings, the Detroit Lions are still searching to find a way to stop opponents when they get on a roll.
When the opponent gets rolling, it's like an avalanche roaring down the mountainside and the Lions get buried.
We learned that again in the Lions' 41-21 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Ford Field. As has happened in their three previous losses this season, the Colts took over after falling behind 7-0, and they were in charge to the finish.
Among the other things we learned include the following: The Lions have not been able to count on their running game being productive on a consistent basis; the Lions continue to have no advantage playing at home at Ford Field; and to quote what a pundit once said about one of the political parties, the Lions "never fail to take advantage of failing to take advantage."
We start with the Colts getting on a roll:
The Lions made a break for themselves in the first quarter when Miles Killebrew blocked a Colts punt that gave the Lions possession in Colts territory. In two plays, the Lions scored on quarterback Matthew Stafford's 25-yard pass to wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. for a 7-0 lead.
It looked like the Lions would take command. They didn't.
The Colts answered back with touchdowns on three straight possessions to take a 20-7 lead.
That wasn't the end, though.
The Lions got a TD in the third quarter to make it 20-14 and were moving the ball again late in the third quarter when disaster struck. First Stafford lost a fumble on a sack. The Colts converted that into a touchdown to make the lead 28-14 with the addition of a two-point conversion.
Eight seconds later, the Colts scored again on an interception return. That made it 35-14.
End of game – except for an exchange of meaningless fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Bottom line: It was a seismic shift from a 7-0 lead for the Lions to a 35-14 advantage for the Colts.
But it was nothing we haven't seen before this season.
On opening day, the Bears scored three TDs in the fourth quarter to wipe out a 23-6 deficit and win, 27-23.
In Week 2 at Green Bay, the Lions had a 14-3 lead with touchdowns on their first two possessions. That disappeared as the Packers scored 31 straight points on the way to a 42-21 Packers win.
And Week 4 at Ford Field, the Lions had a 14-0 lead in the first five minutes. The Saints scored five straight touchdowns to wipe out the Lions' early lead and win, 35-29.
What we've learned this year is that the Lions have their moments, but their opponents have bigger ones.
On the run: The Lions seemed to have found their running game with an impressive 180-yard performance in a 34-16 win over the Jaguars in Week 5. Rookie D’Andre Swift led the way with 116 yards.
But that didn't last long. The Lions were held to 64 the next week in a win over the Atlanta Falcons, and they managed only 29 against the Colts.
Like a lot of things that ail the Lions, consistency in their run game – and run defense – is missing. Don't expect either to be good on any given week.
Home field: There is no explaining why the Lions haven't fared better at Ford Field.
The Lions were 4-4 at Ford Field in 2017, 3-5 in 2018, 2-6 in 2019 and 0-3 so far this year.
Their overall home record is 9-18 since the start of the 2017 season, and they've lost seven straight home games.
Bottom line: What should be an advantage isn't.
Taking advantage: The scenario before the start of yesterday's game was set up for the Lions to make a statement. Win a home game, get to 4-3, and announce yourselves as strong playoff contenders with a favorable schedule in the next month or so.
That did not happen, and an even greater opportunity was squandered by the results of two other games in the NFC North.
The first-place Packers lost at home to the division rival Vikings, dropping their record to 5-2.
The second-place Bears lost at home in overtime to the Saints, dropping their record to 5-3.
Add up what could have been:
Packers still in first, but down a notch at 5-2. Bears at 5-3. Lions at 4-3 with a win at home, and a game out of first in the North.
It didn't end up that way. The Lions did not take advantage.