Five reasons the Lions lost 41-21 to the Colts

DETROIT — The Lions never gave themselves a chance in their 41-21 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday at Ford Field. It didn’t seem that close. 

The Lions are now 0-3 at home and 3-4 overall.

Execution? Not so much. We’ve seen this before. Plenty of blame to spread around.

Coach Matt Patricia gave credit to the Colts (5-2). “They played well in all three phases and were able to capitalize on the mistakes we made,’’ the coach said.

The Lions were coming off two straight wins, although both were against one-win teams. Still whatever momentum they had built is gone.

“Yeah, I mean it is frustrating to lose. We’ve put a bunch of work into it, and when it doesn’t go the way you want it to go, it’s not fun. And this one’s no different,’’ Matthew Stafford said. “But at the same time we’ve got to learn from it. We’ll look at the tape, we will figure out where we can do better and we have got a new opponent next week. We are going to have to get ready to go to them and play well.”

The five main reasons the Lions lost:

1. Detroit’s defense could not get quarterback Philip Rivers and the Colts’ offense off the field. The time of possession was a joke in the first half. The Colts had the ball for 22:06, the Lions for 7:54. Of course this goes both ways. The Lions’ offense couldn’t sustain drives to stay on the field. “It’s no excuse. We play defense for a reason. Offense is going to have off days, but we’ve got to go out there and play ball, simple as that,” linebacker Reggie Ragland said. Rivers finished 23 of 33 for 262 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked twice. The 38-year-old Rivers was impressive and certainly got some help from the Lions’ defense. 

2. Penalties were the killer, not that there were so many of them (four for 76 yards), just those that came at crucial times. None worse that in the second quarter on a third-and-four, Danny Shelton sacked Rivers for a loss of 7 yards. But he was called for unnecessary roughness which is a 15-yard penalty and three plays later. Shelton did not stop when the whistle blew that the play was dead, according to a pool report with Clay Martin the referee who made the call. The flag was delayed because first he had to break up a scrum that was a result of the play. Shelton should know better.Three plays later Rivers connected with Jack Doyle for a 7-yard touchdown.

3. Stafford did not have his best game. He turned the ball over twice. An interception early in the fourth quarter was returned for a touchdown. He said he didn’t have god enough eyes on the nickel. In the prior series he was sacked, fumbled the ball and the Colts recovered it. “Wish I had those two plays back,’’ Stafford said. He didn’t have much time on the field and the offensive shortcomings are not all on him. Stafford put together three nice touchdown drives but it obviously wasn’t enough. He finished 24 of 42 for 336 yards, three touchdowns and was sacked five times for losses of 39 yards.

4. The run game was abysmal. Five carries for 5 yards in the first half spells trouble. They finished with just 29 rushing yards and 10 of those came on a run by Stafford. “Obviously, didn’t sustain drives well enough in the first half or the second half to be honest. Didn’t run the ball as well as we can, obviously and then just didn’t play well enough in the passing game to overcome that,’’ Stafford said. “So, it was obviously we scored early which was great, but we weren’t able to be consistent on drives and our defense was out there for a long period of time, which isn’t good.” Adrian Peterson had five carries for 7 yards while D’Andre Swift carried six times for 1 yard. It was an issue. The run game started off the season well, but has faltered in recent weeks.

5. Matt Patricia said afterward he has to do better. The Lions took a step backward. “We’ve got a lot of work to do,’’ Patricia said. “We have to play better, we have to coach better, that’s the bottom line.” Patricia is now 12-26-1 in his three seasons in Detroit. He’s never put together three straight wins. Most coaches agree that taking care of home turf is crucial. Patricia is 5-14 at Ford Field. 

BY THE NUMBERS: Wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr., had two touchdown catches giving him three for the season. … Both teams were exactly the same on third-down proficiency – 7 of 14 (50 percent). …. The Colts rushed for 119 yards, the Lions for 29 … Jason Fox averaged 52.4 yards on his five punts. … Jamie Collins and Tracy Walker led the defense with 10 tackles each. Romeo Okwara notched his fifth sack of the season. … Miles Killebrew blocked a punt in the first quarter which gave the Lions the ball at the Colts’ 32-yard line. Two plays later Stafford connected with Marvin Jones Jr. for a 25-yard touchdown that gave Detroit a 7-0 lead. 

NEXT WEEK: The Lions (3-4)  at the Vikings (2-5), 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 8. Minnesota beat Green Bay, 28-22, on Sunday.

Detroit Lions host Colts: Five things to know

It would be a big step for the Lions to beat the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Detroit is coming off two straight wins, but they were over one-win teams.

No win in the NFL is easy, but beating Jacksonville and Atlanta was crucial to the Lions (3-3) moving forward. The Colts (4-2) should present much more of a challenge at Ford Field on Sunday.

Five things to watch:

1. The Lions defense which has looked much more solid since the bye week, must continue to mature. Lions linebacker Reggie Ragland said the reason for the improvement is easy: “Because everybody’s doing their damn job,’’ Ragland said. Good point. Here’s another from defensive coordinator Cory Undlin. “The more time you spend together, the more time you get used to each other. How many times has this been said as well as far as no OTAs, short training camp – and just like any family, any group of men that spend a lot of time together, there’s a chemistry and there’s a trust that goes into it. When you look to the guy to your right and the guy to your left, can you count on those guys? It has a lot to do with me and them towards me and me towards them. I think the longer we get together, the more time we spend together, it’s coming together.’’ So there you go. Defensive end Everson Griffen, who was acquired this week in a trade with Dallas, has to wait another week due to coronavirus protocols.

2. Detroit must maintain its run game. The yardage was down against the Falcons last Sunday but part of that was the game strategy. No worries. It’s a three-headed monster with Adrian Peterson, D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said they’re constantly evaluating whether they’re using the running backs correctly. “Even last week, I think Swift ended up with the most just total number of plays, not necessarily the most carries, but the most total number of plays,’’ Bevell said. “It’s still in flux each and every week, trying to put guys in positions to be successful.’’

3. In the offseason apparently the Lions were vaccinated for fumble-itis and it worked. The offense hasn’t fumbled the ball in the first six games. “Honestly, I just think the guys do a great job with just fundamentals. I think that is a big part of our teaching of fundamentals. From Day 1, we talk about those things,’’ coach Matt Patricia said. “The No. 1 fundamental is ball security, and obviously trying to turn the ball over when we get those opportunities. We have a little bit of a saying, it’s called, ‘It’s all about the ball.’ That’s the truth.’’ (If you think asking Patricia this questions will jinx the streak, blame in on Justin Rogers of the Detroit News.)

4. Matthew Stafford had his best game so far this season with the comeback win over the Falcons. “I think that the guys that are calm in those situations are obviously guys that have been there before and Matthew Stafford’s been there a lot of times, and really just phenomenal in those situations. It was just great. I think everyone around him, too – give credit to the offensive line and the receivers and the skill guys. I thought they did a phenomenal job of everyone just being on the same page,’’ Patricia said. In six games, Stafford has connected 62.3 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions.

5. The Colts’ defense is sneaky good according to Patricia. “Obviously, (DeForest) Buckner was a great addition inside to help them kind of create that penetration. He’s got huge length, he can play the run, he’s extremely strong. So, I think he’s just solidified the inside part of that defense. (Grover) Stewart’s in there, too. He’s a great player. (Justin) Houston on the edge, obviously now him with Buckner and the ability for them to run the pass-rush games that they run and the stunts that they use up front, I just think they’re very, very disruptive up front. 

PREDICTION: Lions 27, Colts 24

Lions Adrian Peterson, Everson Griffen have a history

Well, this could be interesting.

Lions running back Adrian Peterson and newest defensive end Everson Griffen like to “wrastle.”

The two, who were close when they played with the Vikings for seven seasons, will be reunited with the Lions next week when Griffen joins the team after his pandemic protocol. The Lions received him in a trade with Dallas this week.

Oddly enough, the first opponent after Griffen arrives will be the Vikings at Minnesota on Nov. 8.

Peterson, a good storyteller, shared one memory with the Detroit media on Thursday. 

“Me and Everson we used to lock up. In case you don’t know what that means it’s like a wrastling match. Every training camp at least once or twice, but normally it was once because it was pretty intense,’’ Peterson said.

This particular story happened after camp when they were back at their practice facility ready for lunch following a Friday practice.

“We normally had our tables lined up and these restaurants would provide meals and this day was a Chinese restaurant that a lot of the guys really loved the food. It was all laid out,’’ Peterson said.

“I don’t know what kicked it off or what started it. I’m sure it had to do something with us talking, going back and forth. We locked up again. It was intense. He’s very competitive, I’m very competitive. We ended up locking up — we’re tussling, falling to the ground and getting up and pushing each other back and forth. If you were an outsider and you didn’t know we were having fun, you probably would’ve thought we were into it.

“I caught him slipping — you’d have to ask him about this — he won’t admit it. I caught him slipping and his knee bent back and I took advantage and rushed him and I ended up stopping because I was going to run into the food. 

“Now when I think about it I think I should’ve sacrificed the food because when I eased up he came four steps ahead and slammed me to the ground, I was like, ‘Alright that pretty much ended it. You seen that I give up, why did you take advantage?’ … He said he had to.’’

So now they will be back together and it raises a few questions:

Is wrastlng a pandemic-friendly activity?

What will coach Matt Patricia think?

“It is strange, it’s funny how things work out, who would’ve thought we’d meet again playing for the Detroit Lions and the first (game) we play together would be against the Vikings,’’ Peterson said. “It’s kind of cool, it’s funny how things come full-circle.’’

Meanwhile, the Lions (3-3) host the Indianapolis Colts (4-2) at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Ford Field.