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TWENTYMAN: Defense looks to overcome recent struggles in season finale

While the Detroit Lions have been eliminated from playoff contention along with Sunday's opponent, the Minnesota Vikings, the Lions are still playing for pride.

Last Saturday was a particularly rough outing in a 47-7 loss to Tampa Bay. Detroit allowed 410 yards of offense and 34 points in the first half against the Bucs. Tom Brady threw four first-half touchdowns and was able to sit out the second half. The Bucs finished with 588 total yards of offense. Detroit's allowed 40-plus points in back-to-back games, and are now in position to be on the wrong side of the record books heading into Week 17.

Detroit's allowed 482 points this season. They need to hold the Vikings to less than 35 points on Sunday to avoid tying the franchise record for most points allowed in a season, which was set by the winless 2008 team. Detroit needs to keep the Vikings under 51 points to avoid the NFL record for points allowed in a season.

"At the end of the day, I'll take all of that on me, crazy year, I'm not going to come up with any excuses, we weren't good enough," defensive coordinator Cory Undlin said this week. "We have one game left and we're going to go out and fight as hard as we can and then we'll let everything else be what it is."

Detroit needs to hold Minnesota under 262 yards of total offense to avoid allowing the most yards in franchise history.

The Lions' defense needed a total system reset after the 2008 season, and it looks like they're back in that category heading into a crucial 2021 offseason. The new general manager and head coach will have a tough task ahead of them trying to fix a unit that ranks in the bottom five in the league in every major statistical category.

The Vikings' offense scored 34 points and a season-high 487 yards on the Lions in Minnesota last month.

"I don't want anything to do with those records," Undlin said this week. "There's only one stat I care about and that's how many games did we win. It's our job. The way this game is played right now offensively, the rules, everything else, I care about how many wins we have. Right now we have five. I know this, we won three last year.

"So, we won five this year, it's not going to be enough probably for most of us on this coaching staff. We'll see what happens with the roster. I'm most concerned with the players on this roster than I am myself. I'll figure something out, we'll move on, but I'm not a stat guy."

It's been a tough year all the way around for the Lions' defense. Injuries have been an issue, but can never be an excuse. Defensive end Trey Flowers has only played seven games all year. Defensive tackle Danny Shelton, cornerback Desmond Trufant, defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand and cornerback Jeff Okudah are all on IR. It's been an inconsistent unit from Week 1 that never found a footing in this scheme.

Everyone has their own opinion on what this team needs to get back to playing meaningful games in December. After watching the defensive performance last week at Ford Field, and really watching this defense play all year, there's no question in my mind that revamping the defense and finding more playmakers should be a top priority both in the draft and free agency.

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