Lions collapse early, lose 42-21 at Green Bay Packers

After a 14-3 start, everything went downhill for the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on Sunday. 

When it was mercifully over, the Packers won, 42-21. It seemed like it was even worse.

It’s amazingly easy to pin the blame because it is on most everyone. It starts with coach Matt Patricia but it is not all on him. Six injured starters sat out, but in the NFL that is no excuse. 

Detroit’s defense gave up 488 net yards — 259 of them on the ground. 

Matthew Stafford looked sharp in the first quarter when the offense moved the ball with a good mix of passes and runs and scored touchdowns on its first two possessions.

Let’s take a closer look at the second quarter, which is where the collapse started. Specifically the final two minutes of the half and then the first four minutes of the third.

The Lions get the ball on their own 7-yard line with 1:45 left in the second quarter off a Packers’ punt. Detroit is leading 14-10.

So you might think they’d run the ball, be happy with a 4-point lead to go into the locker room at the half. You would be wrong.

After a 3-yard scamper by D’Andre Swift, Stafford is sacked for a 10-yard loss. Facing a third-and-16, Adrian Peterson gets the ball. The Lions punt.

Green Bay gets the ball with 1:00 left in the half and on their third play Aaron Rodgers throws a 11-yard touchdown pass to Robert Tonyan down the middle to take the Packers first lead of the game, 17-14.

Detroit gets the ball back with 14 seconds left. Matt Praters misses a 57-yard field goal attempt wide right.

The Packers get the ball to open the third and on the first play from scrimmage Aaron Jones runs up the gut and 75 yards down the field for a touchdown. The Packers led 24-14.

Wait, it gets worse. With 8:37 left in the third, Stafford throws a pick-six on the first play of the series on a pass intended for Danny Amendola. The Packers go up 31-14.

The Lions (0-2) will say they just need to execute. Patricia will say it starts with him. It’s all about the details. They need to play for 60 minutes. You know the script. It’s all been said before. It’s just that the outcome has not changed.

Next up: At the Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m. next Sunday.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions. )

Five keys as Detroit Lions visit Green Bay Packers

Matthew Stafford will need to play better than in Sunday’s loss to the Bears if the Lions are to have a shot at upsetting the Packers in Green Bay on Sunday.

Of course, so will everyone around him — including the coaches.

“I think every time we go there and play, we’re playing a really good team in a tough place to play,’’ Stafford said. “Obviously it’s going to be an interesting venue this year with no fans like everywhere. The toughest part about going to play at Lambeau is the Packers. They’re a really good football team.’’

Green Bay defeated the Vikings 43-34 in their opener with Aaron Rodgers tossing four touchdown passes.

Five keys to Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field:

  1. Stafford threw an interception in the fourth quarter against the Bears trying to make the comeback after owning a 23-6 lead to start the fourth quarter. He’s going to throw interceptions throughout the season, but experience lets him move on quickly. “Obviously I can’t let it happen. I’ve been playing this game a long time, I get the ball in my hand late in the game, I know my guys trust me, I have to make good decisions with it and not try to do too much, keep us moving.’’ Same with the game this week. Last week is ancient history, the team needs to hit a reset button.

2. While the whole offseason the emphasis was on finishing, getting a good start is a bonus too. Stafford had missed the final half of last season with a broken back and had no preseason games which could be why the offense struggled early to find a rhythm. “I felt like it took me a little bit too long to get settled into this one, I wasn’t efficient enough early and I don’t know if it’s because I hadn’t played a game or just didn’t get into the flow,’’ Stafford said. “Either way I’m trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again …’’

3. The defense, especially without cornerbacks Justin Coleman (on injured reserve) and Desmond Trufant (out with hamstring), will have its hands full. It could be quite a welcome to the NFL moment for rookie corner Jeff Okudah thanks to Aaron Rodgers.

4.  Pressure up front will be critical. Last Sunday Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky was sacked just once by the Lions. But new defensive coordinator Cory Undlin didn’t put all of it on the defensive line. “When you talk about pass rush, it’s not just the four guys that are rushing by themselves. It has a lot to do with the linebackers in coverage, it has to do with the secondary in coverage and it all works together,’’ Undlin said on a conference call this week. “You guys have heard that phrase before.”

5. Once again the Lions will be without wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hamstring). Rookie wide receiver Quintez Cephus (fifth-round pick) led the Lions with 10 targets last week but only made three catches. “I know as a player out there I have a lot of confidence in him, I know the coaching staff does as well. He’s just a guy that continues to work hard, learn and try to prove himself,’’ Stafford said. “Look for the offense to spread the ball around. Tight end T.J. Hockenson proved that his good camp was not a fluke with a solid effort in the loss to the Bears.

PREDICTION: Packers 41, Lions 27.

Five things to know after Lions lose to Bears

DETROIT — The season isn’t over for the Lions after they imploded in a 27-23 loss to the Chicago Bears in their opener.

However, at 0-1 the immediate future looks at least partly cloudy. Next Sunday they’re at Green Bay, followed by a game at Arizona and then back home on Oct. 4 to host the New Orleans Saints. 

The fourth-quarter collapse was brutal. The Lions were ahead 23-6 when the quarter started and hanging their heads when it was over.

Last year the Lions led in 14 of their 16 games and held fourth-quarter leads in 10 games and yet they managed just 3 wins (3-12-1) all year. 

So the emphasis for this season was on finishing. It just didn’t happen in the opener. The debacle wasn’t shocking, we’d seen it before.

Five thoughts about the loss:

1. Adrian Peterson made his Lions’ debut with 14 carries for 93 yards (6.6 yards per carry) along with three catches for 21 yards. Good call on signing the 35-year-old free agent. “I thought he gave great effort, I thought he gave great energy. I think the guys, really, they like to be out there with him and they know he’s going to work hard and he’s going to go hard every single play. So that was good to see,’’ coach Matt Patricia said. “I really thought he made some tough runs. I thought he brought a physical style to the run game and that was encouraging.”

2. Matthew Stafford was 24 of 42 for 297 yards, 1 touchdown and one interception. A clear indication that the Bears defense was working came in the Lions final possession when the quarterback scrambled for one yard on first-and-10 to kick off the drive, then two plays later ran for 7 yards, again on a first down. He did complete a 32-yard pass to Danny Amendola on that drive. And he put the winning touchdown in D’Andre Swift’s hands in the end zone but he dropped it. This loss wasn’t all on Stafford but he was a part of it.  “We just have to execute better. When you look at it that’s the name of the game in the fourth quarter. We didn’t do it enough last year and we didn’t do it obviously enough today,’’ Stafford said.

3. Linebacker Jamie Collins was ejected early in the second quarter. He was apparently trying to show referee Alex Kemp that one of the Bears was leading with his helmet. But he misplayed it and butted his head into Kemp who told the pool reporter he threw him out for the contact. The intent had nothing to do with the decision. When he was thrown out Collins already had 3 tackles and a pass defense. It was a bonehead play on his part and it was costly for the team.

4. Both teams were a little slow out of the gate which was to be expected since there were no preseason contests. The Lions held a 13-6 lead at the half after a touchdown dash by rookie running back D’Andre Swift with 19 seconds left.

5. Tight end T.J. Hockenson, who had a standout training camp, continued it with five catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. 

By the numbers: Matt Patricia is 9-23-1 as head coach with the Lions.. … Safety Tracy Walker led the defense with seven tackles. … Trey Flowers had the Lions’ only sack of Mitchell Trubisky. … Cornerbacks Justin Coleman and Desmond Trufant both left the game with hamstring injuries and did not return. … The Lions had 98 rushing yards in the second half after only 40 in the first half. … Danny Amendola led the wide receivers with five catches for 81 yards. … Rookie wide receiver Quintez Cephus had the most targets (10), but he caught just three of them for 43 yards.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)