Five things to know about Lions 51-29 loss at Seahawks

While COVID and injuries have decimated the roster for weeks, on Sunday at Seattle the Detroit Lions were outmatched and outplayed in the 51-29 loss.

Coach Dan Campbell has found bits of magic here and there during the two-win season, but it was difficult to find positives on Sunday except for wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown who continues to excel in his rookie season.

Detroit’s defense could not stop the Seahawks’ run game or Russell Wilson. It was a mismatch in the trenches all day long. It was not an unexpected loss and, in fact, the Lions (2-13-1) were better in the second half, once again showing off their never-give-up spirit.

Five things to know:

1. Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown continues to amaze. Doesn’t matter that the surrounding cast is depleted, this guy moves. On Sunday he became the first rookie in NFL history with at least eight catches in five straight games. In the loss, he also scored his first rushing touchdown along with eight catches for 111 yards and one receiving touchdown. Remember he was a fourth-round draft pick. 

2. The Lions did not appear to give up even when they were down 31-7 to start the second half. Credit to Campbell. Several of the young guys are trying to earn a roster spot in Detroit or elsewhere for next season. That helps, but not enough. Campbell has somehow got them playing hard for 60 minutes no matter the score. In the second half Detroit actually outscored Seattle, 22-20. (Sometimes you have to dig deep to find a positive.)

3. Dan Campbell continued his aggressive play-calling throughout and not just on fourth down. In the third quarter he had Tim Boyle throw to offensive lineman Matt Nelson who couldn’t keep his mitts on the ball. Then he tossed a touchdown pass to left tackle Taylor Decker. Didn’t see that coming. Of course, a lack of healthy tight ends made that an option. When the Lions get more talent, hope Campbell keeps up with the aggressiveness and out-of-the-box calls.

4. Quarterback Tim Boyle, in his third career start, threw for an interception to start the second half but redeemed himself a bit with a touchdown pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown in the third quarter. Boyle is who he is. He is not Jared Goff (knee) who was watching from the sidelines. Boyle finished 22 of 37 for 262 yards (a career-high), two touchdowns and three interceptions.

5. Defensively Detroit had no answer for running back Rashaad Penny who had 25 carries for 170 yards and a pair of touchdowns. This is the same defense that held the Falcons to 47 rushing yards in the previous week’s loss. The Seahawks finished with 497 net yards including 265 rushing yards. Campbell is in it to win it until the bitter end and it is obvious he has got his players thinking the same way.

NEXT UP:  Green Bay Packers at Lions at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 9, to close out Detroit’s season. The bitter end.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Five things to know about Lions’ 20-16 loss to Falcons

Since Day One, Lions coach Dan Campbell has said they had a thin margin needed for a win. It has proven out all season. No more so than on Sunday when quarterback Tim Boyle threw an interception on a first-and-goal play with just seconds left. Kalif Raymond was the intended receiver surrounded by three Falcons’ defenders. He never had a chance. 

Boom. Falcons win 20-16 at Atlanta. 

The Lions (2-12-1) were coming off a huge win over the Cardinals and hung close throughout the game, but could not hold on for the win.

Five things to know: 

1. Coordinator Aaron Glenn has the defense ready each week no matter who he has on the active roster. On the Falcon’s first possession — 6 snaps — the Lions sacked quarterback Matt Ryan three times. Quite the nice hello. With so many starters missing, never have seen a next-man-up philosophy work so well. Of course, it’s probably good there are only two more games because he might be running out of bodies.

2. The Lions have been a different team since Campbell took over the play-calling following the Thanksgiving game. Good mix of run and pass, aggressive when it needs to be. With Jared Goff out with COVID, Boyle was ready to go. He completed his first six passes. His worst pass was his final one – the interception. Boyle finished 24 of 34 for 187 yards, 1 touchdown and the interception. “I thought he played fast, efficient, clean and certainly gave us a chance. He wasn’t a hindrance to us at all,” Campbell said. The offense ate up 7:34 on its opening drive ending with a field goal. It was similar to the 8:50 opening drive against the Cardinals.

3. Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown has produced 8-plus receptions in 4-straight games, joining Odell Beckham Jr. as the NFL’s only rookie wide receivers in the Super Bowl era to have such a streak. Pretty nice company. St. Brown joins WR Calvin Johnson Jr. as the only Lions to ever post 8-plus receptions in 4-straight games. He finished Sunday with nine receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown. He also carried the ball twice for 19 yards.

4. Who doesn’t love trick plays? The fake punt in the first half, set up Boyle’s 20-yard touchdown pass to St. Brown. Special teams has been solid all season. Rookie kicker Riley Patterson is perfect on field goal attempts. He kicked three in the loss – two for 27 yards, one for 36 yards.

5. This final stretch of the season is not about draft picks, it’s about trying to win every game and develop the young players. With so many injuries, guys like running back Craig Reynolds – are getting plenty of snaps. The Lions are showing positive signs for next season. Campbell has made it clear he is not concerned about the draft at this point. So no more belly-aching, OK?

UP NEXT: Lions at Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m. on Sunday, Jan.2.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Lions draft WR Amon-Ra St. Brown and LB Derrick Barnes in fourth round

While pound-for-pound the Detroit Lions may have won the first three rounds of the NFL draft, they went into Saturday needing a wide receiver and a linebacker.

Boom, boom – GM Brad Holmes handled both with back-to-back picks in the fourth round to open Saturday’s action.

Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (USC) was selected with the 112th overall pick. 

Then Campbell traded his fifth-round pick and a fourth-round pick in 2022 to draft linebacker Derrick Barnes (Purdue) with the 113th pick and also pick up the 257th overall pick in today’s seventh round.

St. Brown’s draft profiles read the same – good hands, solid body control and even though he doesn’t have the length (he’s 6-foot) he wins 50-50 balls. In fact he was eighth in the country with that stat.

“It’s a lot of things, its definitely being in stride at the point of the catch is huge, being able to track the ball is another thing, usually contested catches are depper balls,’’ St. Brown said in a media call. “Being able to track the ball and know when to attack is huge and having that mentality that you’re going to work no matter who’s there at getting that.’’

The youngest of three boys, he comes from an athletic background – his dad was Mr. Universe and his brother, Equanimeous, plays for the Green Bay Packers. His dad wanted his sons to have different names – Amon-Ra is the Eqyptian God of sun and light.

He started lifting when he was 6 with PVC pipes to get the form and gradually lifting weights. 

At USC,he played in 31 games with 23 starts.  Overall he had 178 career catches for 2,270 yards (12.8 avg) and 16 TDs in his career to rank 11th on USC’s career receptions list. He had a streak of 4 consecutive 100-yard receiving outings (last 2 games in 2019, first 2 in 2020)

Barnes, who is also 6-foot, has good size, long arms and sideline-to-sideline range. 

He’s a natural for the Lions since he has a lion tattooed across his right pec. He had a feeling the Lions would draft him.

“I knew because my coach at Purdue would text me, the Lions love you. The Lions think highly of you ,it all shows. I’m really blessed to be a Lion that’s my favorite animal,’’ Barnes said in a media call.

He further explained his fascination with lions.

“My favorite animal is the lion, the king of the jungle. The heart of the lion is what i say I have —- loyalty, power, leadership — I think that’s all the strengths I grew up having,’’ Barnes said.

He has the burst to spy quarterbacks, according to his ESPN draft profile. He flashes as a pass-rusher and has some upside in coverage. He has average stopping power as a run defender. He has the potential to quickly develop into a core special teams player.

In the first three rounds the Lions drafted RT Penei Sewell (331 pounds), DT Levi Onwuzurike (290 pounds) and DT Alim McNeil (317 pounds).