Another football Sunday for the Lions, another time to play a little game to amuse yourself.
It’s called “Why Did They Lose?” and it involves perusing the stat sheet after the game.
On some Sundays, you need to look hard, maybe two or three times, to find this skewed version of Waldo. Other times, it practically jumps out at you.
Let’s take a peek, shall we, in the wake of the Lions’ 28-20 loss to the Giants in the Meadowlands?
Oh, this is one of those weeks where you don’t have to look very hard. Put the magnifying glass away, save the squinting. This week’s game of “Why Did They Lose” must be for beginners—set at the remedial level.
Where do you want to begin?
Well, there were the penalties—11 of them for 91 yards of precious football real estate, compared to just two for 15 yards for the well-behaved Giants. The Giants were awarded four first downs thanks to penalties; the Lions—none.
Here’s another—the Giants had 167 rushing yards on just 30 carries (5.6 avg); the Lions managed a measly 64 yards on 21 attempts (3.0 avg). The Lions’ leading rusher was their third-string quarterback, Drew Stanton. Take away Drew’s 30 yards on three carries, and the other runners combined for 34 yards on 18 carries.
Moving down the stat sheet…
Turnovers: the Lions had three, the Giants just one.
Thanks for playing “Why Did They Lose?”!!
The game also had the usual fourth quarter backbreaker. This time it was the Lions surrendering a 45-yard run to Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw late in the quarter, not long after the Lions had pulled to within 21-17. That set up a Brandon Jacobs TD run, and the Giants were safely ahead by 11 once again.
Another football Sunday for the Lions.
As for the penalties, the Lions are in the middle of a cruel, vicious cycle.
They haven’t won for eons, thus they don’t typically get the borderline calls from the officials. And, because they’re talent-challenged, they have a smaller margin for error than most clubs. On top of all that, the Lions commit preventable, foolish infractions that kill momentum and wipe out what little good this team is able to muster.
I’m looking at you, Stephen Peterman.
The guard ran roughshod over a Giants DB, leading into him with his helmet, in an overzealous attempt to “clean up” a good gainer for the Lions. The boneheaded move cost the Lions 15 yards and changed the complexion of a critical possession.
The Lions have 106 feet on the legs of their 53-man roster, and they’ve just about shot them all off and we’re only six games into the season.
I’ll suggest it yet again. I believe that NFL games are more lost than they are won. Every week it’s a game of “Who can make the fewest mistakes?”
The question that resonates more every week isn’t, “What did Team A do to win?” It’s, “What did Team B do to lose?”
It’s usually easier to spot the loser on a pro football scoresheet than it is the winner.
You want a bright spot? Then I submit to you Mr. Stanton, who played reasonably well after being pressed into duty late in the first half thanks to Shaun Hill’s arm injury.
What is it with Lions QBs and the ends of halves this season?
Stanton turned the ball over twice and his accuracy issues occasionally reared their heads, but considering the circumstances, I thought he acquitted himself OK—better than I feared, let’s put it that way.
But the Lions couldn’t get RB Jahvid Best going, and that’s becoming a weekly concern.
Best, when he’s on, is the closest thing to Barry Sanders in terms of slipperiness that we’ve seen since Barry retired in 1999. But his flashes have been few and far between. He’s battling turf toe, but 16 yards on 12 carries—his production Sunday—is still unacceptable.
The Lions tried several first down runs, but they often gained nothing and at 2nd-and-9, 2nd-and-10, the Giants could think pass and nothing else, with impunity.
Too often 2nd-and-10 turned into 3rd-and-long, which turned into Nick Harris-awaiting-the-snap.
It all added up to another loss—that’s 24 straight on the road if you’re keeping score at home—and anyone who has the gall to act surprised and wonder why only needs to have the stat sheet thrust beneath their nose.
The answer can be found within that document; it usually is, after all.