Five reasons Lions lost 44-20 to Ravens

Stafford’s right hand is not broken, just a nasty bruise

The Detroit Lions showed a little fight in the second half, but once again it was too little, too late.

After falling behind 20-0 at the half, the Lions could not scratch their way back and lost 44-20 to the Ravens on Sunday in Baltimore.

The Lions drop to 6-6 with four games remaining including next Sunday at Tampa Bay. Their playoff hopes are not dead, but they are on life support.

“We’re not playing well enough and I have to do a better job of coaching as well,’’ coach Jim Caldwell said afterward.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

The good news, at least for the next few weeks, is that Matthew Stafford’s right hand is not broken. Caldwell said he had X-rays and it’s a “nasty bruise.” Stafford had his hand stepped on late in the game and went into the locker room for X-rays right away.

Five reasons the Lions lost:

1. Another game, another slow start. The Lions have been fallen behind 43-0 in first quarter of last four games. They talk about focus, concentrating on details and it all sounds good but once again they didn’t translate to the field. Matthew Stafford fumbled on a snap on third-and-8 in first quarter. Lions recovered but were forced to punt. That’s on focus.

2. At one stretch in the second half, Stafford completed 20 straight passes, a franchise record. The 20th pass was to linebacker/fullback Nick Bellore for a touchdown. Stafford left the game late in the fourth quarter with an ice bag on his right hand. He wasn’t the whole problem, but part of it. He was 24 of 29 for 292 yards, one touchdown, one interception, one fumble loss and a 105.2 quarterback rating.

3. Stafford was also sacked three times. It’s not a coincidence that the offensive line was a M-A-S-H unit. Center Travis Swanson was out so Graham Glasgow started at center. Corey Robinson then filled in at left guard. Right tackle Rick Wagner (ankle) was injured and couldn’t return so Brian Mihalik stepped in and at one point T.J. Lang was out, but he was able to return with a foot injury. Stafford was pressure all day long by a very solid Ravens front line.

4. The defense was unprepared at times. On a 23-yard pass to  Chris Moore late in the third quarter, the Lions had only nine defensemen on the field. That’s just one example. They gave up too many big plays against the Ravens’ offense which, coming into the game, was averaging 281.1 yards per game which ranks second-to-last in the NFL.  They finished Sunday with 371 total yards (269 passing).  Before Sunday the Ravens ranked dead last in the NFL with 164.3 passing yards per game. Beat that up more than 100 yards. Quarterback Joe Flacco had plenty of time most of the day, he was never sacked. Detroit’s linebackers couldn’t stop the run. That is not news either.

5. The run game was ineffective once again with 78 yards rushing. At least offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter didn’t just stick to his old ways, he added a few twists. He activated rookie Tion Green who had 11 carries for 51 yards and a touchdown in his first game. Also he brought in linebacker Nick Bellore as a fullback. Stafford threw a touchdown pass to him on second-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Ameer Abdullah (neck) was out injured and Dwayne Washington was inactive. And, of course, the banged-up offensive line wasn’t much help either.

BONUS:  Matt Prater missed a 42-yard field goal — the first time this season he’s missed a field goal of less than 50 yards. He also missed on an extra point. Both were wide left. Those four points could have been crucial, although looking at the final score they weren’t exactly. It’s so uncharacteristic of Prater. Again, he was not the only issue but it takes a team to win and he didn’t do his part.

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Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on Amazon.com. She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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