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O'HARA'S MONDAY COUNTDOWN: Where Lions stand with six games remaining in 2021 season

The Detroit Lions are back to work with a similar mindset to when they returned from their bye three weeks ago.

They haven't given up on their primary goal: Win a game. A case can be made that they've gotten closer since the bye, with a 16-16 tie with the Steelers and two close losses -- 13-10 to the Browns and 16-14 to the Bears on Thanksgiving Day.

But you play to win, not tie and get close, and the Lions restart the season for the final six games as the NFL's only winless team with a 0-10-1 record.

This week's Monday Countdown is a look back at what has kept the Lions winless and a look ahead at how they might break through and win.

There are also takeaways on offense, defense and special teams, what's trending and the bottom line.

We start with cornerback Amani Oruwariye, and the return to work.

1. Mindset: Oruwariye has been one of the pleasant surprises this season. He got his fifth interception Thursday with a good catch in the end zone.

He hasn't gotten down from losing. That's not surprising. He's one of the young players on a roster full of young players.

"You come and play this game for a reason," he said. "Everyone has their 'why?' At times like this you have to dig into that thing and have a reason why you come to work every day and show up and fight.

"It's not easy. We're not getting the result we want. You have to get up and fight every single day. You have to do that and keep giving more.

"We'll be all right."

How does it feel to get back to work?

"Come back rejuvenated," he said. "That's what we talked about in the locker room. Come to the building ready to work.

"There's no other choice."

2. Look ahead: Nothing is easy for the Lions, and that includes the schedule. The next three games are at home against the Vikings, on the road with the Broncos, and home against the Cardinals.

That means two playoff contenders in the Vikings and Broncos and a Super Bowl contender in the Cardinals.

The Vikings beat the Lions, 19-17, Week 5 on a last-play 54-yard field goal. That was their eighth straight win over the Lions.

On the other side, the Lions have three wins and a tie in their last four games with the Cardinals.

You never know. Strange things happen in the NFL.

3. Look back: My question about head coach Dan Campbell calling a draw play on third and 32 midway in the second quarter isn't about being conservative. It's about strategy -- trying to score.

As Campbell and quarterback Jared Goff have both said, there are no plays for third and 32. But with the ball at the Lions' 32, a safe pass might have gained 15-18 yards.

That would have put the Lions in position to attempt a field goal in the range of 50 yards -- and maybe shorter if the receiver had broken a tackle.

With a completion, the Lions simply wouldn't have punted -- as they did after the running play gained one yard.

And keep in mind: Goff had completed 12 of 13 passes in the first half. That would be riding a hot hand, as the Lions like to do in the running game.

4. Takeaways, offense:

  • Wide receiver Josh Reynolds: He made a quick connection with Goff in his second game with the Lions, catching three passes for 70 yards with a 39-yard TD. They were teammates on the Rams.
  • Goff: He was outspoken after Thursday's game, questioning the officials calling so many holding penalties. He stood up for his guys.
  • Goff didn't hesitate on what running back D’Andre Swift means to the offense. "Swift is as explosive as any guy I've been around. Having him on the field is helpful."

5. Takeaways, defense:

  • Last stand: The Lions haven't been good getting the opposing offense off the field on the final possession. The Browns ran out the clock two weeks ago. The Bears drove to the winning field goal -- as the Ravens and Vikings did earlier.
  • On the run: The Lions were good at that, holding the Bears to 68 yards on 29 carries and three first downs.
  • Against the pass: Not so hot -- 317 yards passing and 18 first downs by veteran backup Andy Dalton. And only one sack -- again. That seems to be the ceiling.

6. Takeaways, special teams:

  • Boomer: A 70-yard punt by Jack Fox, and a 10-yard penalty on the Bears' return, flipped the field from the Lions' four-yard line to the Bears' 16.
  • Return: Godwin Igwebuike had a nice 35-yard kickoff return.

7. Trending:

  • Up: Run defense. David Montgomery and his teammates averaged 2.3 yards on 29 carries. Strong work.
  • Down: Penalties. Too many.
  • Even: The end game. The opponent won it again.

8. Bottom line: Six games left for the Lions to make something of the season.

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