Five reasons why Lions hit ‘rock bottom’ in 29-0 loss at New England

Lions RB Jamaal Williams

Nothing went right for the Detroit Lions in the 29-0 loss at the New England Patriots.

It was the worst overall showing so far this season and dropped them to 1-4. Detroit’s defense has been horrid every week and on Sunday the Patriots’ defense made sure the Lions offense was ineffective. The offense that had been averaging 35 points per game was nowhere to be found.

“To me it’s as bad as it gets, it’s the worst, this is where we’re at. Sometimes it’s going to get bad before it gets better. I believe we hit rock bottom, so now the only place to go is back up,’’ coach Dan Campbell told the media afterward. 

The Lions have a bye week before they get back in action at Dallas on Oct. 23.

“We’re going to get some guys back, I’m going to look at everything top to bottom which I have time to do for the bye,’’ Campbell said. “I’ve seen it too many times, I’ve been in this league too long as a player and coach. I’ve seen teams start out rocky and it’s doom and gloom and all of a sudden they win one and they win the next one and win the next one. I told them all they have to do is win the first one.’’

Five of the reasons the Lions lost:

1. Once again the Lions defense looked unprepared. And from the get-go, the offense looked out of sync too. “Our offense has been pretty steady, played pretty well and this was a day we didn’t do well. We really never got in a true rhythm, we couldn’t convert so we couldn’t stay on the field,’’ Campbell said. After the loss to the Seahawks a week ago, Campbell said he would take a deep dive into everything. The defense looked different – cornerback Amani Oruwariye was a healthy scratch – but they made rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe look pretty darned good. 

2. The Lions’ offensive line had been mostly effective in the first four games, but they could not control Matthew Judon who had two sacks and more pressures on Jared Goff. He beat Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell on the sacks. “Judon is a good player and we knew coming in, we did a significant amount of chipping and nudging to his side, but I didn’t necessarily feel like he wrecked the game,’’ Campbell said. “When things don’t go well in your protection, there are a number of reasons and it’s all encompassing between protection, it’s between the backs and the quarterback. But he’s a good player. I don’t feel like he wore our tackles out or anything like that. He’s a good player, we knew it coming in.’’  Logan Stenberg started at right guard which was a surprise since it seemed a healthy Evan Brown would be a better option. In the second half, Brown moved into the spot. 

3. Campbell had to be somewhat aggressive on fourth down because he has a new kicker and obviously does not have faith in him. The Lions were 0-for-6 on fourth-down attempts. So add the lost fumble by Goff and the interception thrown by Goff and they basically had eight  turnovers. That’s unconscionable. From those turnovers, the Pats scored 20 points.

4. Injuries on the secondary did play a role. Savion Smith, Will Harris, Jeff Okudah, DeShon Elliott and Ifeatu Melifonwu exited with injuries, although Elliott returned. Smith was taken off the field in an ambulance to a local hospital. The team reported that he had feeling in his extremities, but was being checked for a neck injury. It was a scary moment for both teams. No one appeared to be at fault. Also this secondary took a huge loss when it lost Tracy Walker to an Achilles two weeks ago. Perhaps some of those injured defensive backs will have time to recover during the bye week.

5. It’s kind of getting old, but the coaching staff gets much of the blame for this 1-4 start, although GM Brad Holmes deserves his share too. The manpower on defense was questionable from Day One. Campbell often says they have to improve on a daily basis. He sees things that we don’t. “As bad as it looks, I also know what we’re capable of. It’s hard to say that when you look at the score, but we got better defensively, we played better today than we’ve played. Is it good enough? No. But we did play better,’’ Campbell said. “And offensively we’re better than what we just put out there on tape. Yes, it’s bad. As a total team, 29-0 to this point in the season, it’s as bad as it’s gotten.’’

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

(Next up: Bye week, then the Lions play at the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 23.)

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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