When Lions Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow spoke to the media a couple weeks ago he said Detroit's offense goes as the offensive line goes.
"We as a group take a lot of pride in ourselves," he said. "We understand that this team kind of goes as we go. And if we're not going well, it's probably more than likely not going to be a good day. And we take a lot of pride in that."
After watching Detroit's offense struggle to score just three points in the first half in Saturday's 20-19 loss to Dallas, right the ship a bit in the second half, but still ultimately fall short of the standards they've set for themselves all season, those comments by Ragnow ring true.
Detroit allowed 17 quarterback pressures vs. the Cowboys. Guards Graham Glasgow and Jonah Jackson were graded by Pro Football Focus as two of the team's worst offensive players on the day. The two combined to allow nine pressures and also missed some key blocks in the run game.
Glasgow has been a rock all season starting at all three interior line spots, but Saturday wasn't his best game. Same for Jackson.
The Cowboys generated just one sack of quarterback Jared Goff, but they hit him seven times.
Detroit ended up with 125 rushing yards in the game, which isn't bad on paper, but a large chunk of that came on two possessions, and the Cowboys recorded eight tackles for loss in the game.
"They had a number of TFLs on us," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said Monday. "They had about seven of them, which is too much. And that hurts. And I can tell you, when you're in (offensive coordinator) Ben (Johnson)'s seat and you call a first-down run and you lose three and now you're second-and-13, those are tough."
Campbell was also quick to give the Cowboys' defensive front credit.
"There were just a couple of things, man movement got us on a couple of areas, and we got hit on the perimeter a little bit and we've got to be a little bit better, tight end position," He said. "We'll be better as we move forward. And some of that, look, it's the first time that we saw some of that type of speed upfront. And it got us on a couple of things."
Campbell expects the players upfront to learn from this tape and be a little more locked in moving forward.
View photos of the starters for the Minnesota Vikings.
Rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who entered the game leading the NFL in yards per carry, averaged just 2.9 yards per rush and was tackled for a loss or no gain on six of his 15 carries. His 43 rushing yards were the fewest since recording 36 yards on just eight carries Nov. 19 vs. Chicago.
David Montgomery's north and south running style was a little more effective vs. Dallas as he rushed for 65 yards on 14 carries (4.6 average), but the Lions' second-ranked rushing offense is at its best when both Montgomery and Gibbs are producing and it's a diverse rushing attack.
They can only do that when the guys upfront play the kind of football we've seen them play the majority of this year.
"I would say that we had a lot of opportunities early in the game, and we didn't play clean enough offensively," left tackle Taylor Decker said after the Cowboys game. "Hats off to our defense, they played a hell of a game. Definitely want to give those guys credit. Ultimately, when it came down to it, we tried to make all the plays we could, and we just came up one short."