Five things to know about Lions’ loss to Stafford, Rams

Outside of the Detroit Lions organization, not many thought the Lions had a chance to pick up their first win at the Rams. And when it was over, the Rams prevailed 28-19 on Sunday in Los Angeles.

Still after the devastating loss the previous week to Cincinnati, the Lions came out fighting. Coach Dan Campbell has their heads in the game even if they are now 0-7.

The aggressiveness of Campbell and his coaching staff kept Detroit in the game. It was their best effort so far both coaching and on the field.

“Our guys came back to work, they were ready to go, we came out and competed. We did what we wanted to do. It’s hard, there’s no other way to cut it than just the fact that this is a different caliber team,’’ Campbell told the media after the game. “You can argue that from last week, that’s a pretty good football team we played last week, this is a team that’s been built over years, they’ve got some weapons, some premier players and they’ve got a good coach. So man, you talk about how we make too many errors, we actually didn’t make as many errors today. We gave ourselves a chance. The problem is it only takes a couple, this team is too good to do that against.’’

The Lions were up 19-17 to start the fourth quarter, they were in the game until the final minutes.

They have had a few unfortunate losses —  specifically the two last-second 50-yard plus game-winning field goals — the good news is that they are still fighting.

“I told them in there – if this does not continue to sting and burn and taste like you-know-what, then you’ve got a problem. You cannot allow yourself to go numb. You can’t, because I’m not. All it does is (tick) me off even more and motivate me to get out of this mess,’’ Campbell said. “I do think we have the right type of guys. As long as they continue to hate this taste, they’ll come back to work and be ready to go.’’

Five things to know about the loss

1. Campbell and his coaching staff were not holding back. After the opening touchdown (a 63-yard pass play to D’Andre Swift), the Lions used an onside kick successfully to maintain control of the ball. On their second drive they picked up a huge first down when punter Jack Fox connected with Bobby Price on a fake punt play on fourth-and-7. And then, later in the game they again ran a fake punt successfully. Kudos to Campbell and special teams coach Dave Fipp. After the loss to the Bengals the previous week, Campbell said they had to look at everything. He meant it. When a team is 0-6, go for it. He did.

2. Because of the trick plays and some solid play on both sides of the ball the Lions took an early 10-0 lead. They went into the locker room down 17-13 at the half, but roared back to a 19-7 lead late in the third but it wasn’t enough. The early lead allowed the defense to do what it does best – a mix of run and pass. It’s crucial. When they fall behind so early and by so much, they just don’t seem to have a chance.

3. Jared Goff might be remembered for his interception in the end zone late in the fourth quarter when the Lions were down 25-19. Still, Goff stepped up after last week and had a decent game. He missed a few wide-open guys but overall played better. He also was intercepted with just seconds remaining. Campbell was pleased with his play. He finished 22 of 36 for 268 yards, one touchdown and he was sacked twice.

4. This defense had its hands full with Matthew Stafford but they hung in there and made it a game until the end. Rookie cornerback Jerry Jacobs had a few standout plays same with Julian Okwara who sacked Stafford and got a hand on an attempted Stafford fourth-down pass. The Rams aren’t 6-1 by accident, they are one of the NFL’s best. The defense came up big just a little short.

5. In a post-game interview with FOX, Stafford’s biggest smile came when he was asked if he was happy the game was over.  He threw for three touchdowns and zero picks in the win against his former team. He credited his former teammates for playing tough. He said the most emotional part of the game was before and after when he was spotted hugging former teammates and Lions staff. He had 31 fourth-quarter comebacks with the Lions so it was not surprising he manufactured another one on Sunday. Stafford on the Lions: “They played really hard, gotta give it up to Detroit. They’re a tough out, always have been, always will be.”

UP NEXT: Eagles (2-5) at Lions (0-7), 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 31. Philadelphia lost 33-22 at the Raiders on Sunday.  Darius Slay will be making his return to Ford Field. 

THIS AND THAT: Running backs D’Andre Swift (13 carries, 48 yards) and Jamaal Williams (12 carries, 57 yards) had another good outing. Swift also had eight receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown. Campbell called him a stud and said he couldn’t get the ball to him enough. … The Lions won the time of possession 32:40 to 27:20. … The Lions were 0 for 5 in the red zone while the Rams were 3 of 4. … The Lions had 415 total net yards compared to 374 for the Rams. … Tracy Walker and Jalen Reeves-Maybin led the defense with 8 tackles each.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Dan Campbell had no tears to shed after the Lions’ 34-11 loss to the Bengals on Sunday at Ford Field. Instead he was angry, frustrated and everything in-between.

The targets? Everyone including himself.

His first words when he took the postgame podium: “We got whipped, that was brutal.’’ 

This Lions coach did not sugarcoat.

“We didn’t do anything right. (I) thought we played a little defense early in the first half other than the shot play we gave up, but we were in it. We couldn’t sustain,’’ Campbell said. “Offensively we had no rhythm, we had no tempo, we couldn’t execute on third down, missed opportunities and that’s the story of the game. That was a beatdown.’’

Five things to know about the beatdown:

  1. Jared Goff is an easy target. He missed wide-open receivers and most of the yardage came late with the Bengals in prevent Cover-2. He was 28 of 42 for 202 yards and one interception. Like everyone on offense he had a brutally bad day. Yet Campbell said at no time did he ever think about pulling Goff for backup David Blough. “I will say this, I still don’t feel like we can accurately judge (Goff) one way or another. I don’t feel that way yet. I will say this, I feel like he needs to step up more than he has. I think he needs to help us, just like everybody else,’’ Campbell said. “He’s going to need to put a little weight on his shoulders and stand up and do some things but he needs help. I told him out there, he knows this. Some of that stuff we’re getting these holding calls because he’s drifting back in the pocket 10 feet deep …. I’m want to see him step up. I do it because I think he can do it.’’ Campbell also mentioned that the wide receivers need to know where and when to be in the right position

2. The defense played well in the first half, just giving up 10 points. But appeared to be just bystanders during the second half. Campbell said if the offense is going to struggle the defense has to step up. “If that’s the way it’s going, the defense can’t allow the opponent to score then, so be it. That’s life. If you’re the ones who are playing best, you’ve got to hold them and keep us in the game,’’ Campbell said. “Keep it to where we can score maybe one score and find a way to win the game. It’s not good.’’ Cornerback Amani Oruwariye intercepted Joe Burrow for his third pick in the last four games. “We’ve got to find a way to get a win, play our best football we can do. I still don’t think we’ve played our best football yet,’’ Oruwariye said.

3. Running backs Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift had been fine in the first five losses, but couldn’t get it going against the Bengals defense even in the first half when they were only down 10-0 at the half. It’s not all on them, the makeshift offensive line (due to injuries) has to do its part too. Swift had 13 carries for 24 yards and a touchdown, along with 5 catches for 43 yards. 

4. Penalties were a killer — 9 for 77 yards. The offense opened the game with back-to-back penalties — illegal formation and false start — on their first drive. This is one area that is definitely fixable but they’ve got to focus on it 

5. Coaching is indeed at least in part to blame for the 0-6 record. “The focus wasn’t there. I told the team this I’m going to look at everything, that’s my job. But when you get whipped like that, that’s on me there is no way around that,’’ Campbell said. “Of course we’ll look at everything that’s a reflection on me. You don’t play like that. We don’t have a team – that team isn’t 30-something points better than us, there’s no way,’’ Campbell said. “We shot ourselves in the foot, we could not execute. We had some plays that were there to make, we didn’t make them. It’s brutal, it’s on me.’’

UP NEXT: Lions (0-6) at Los Angeles Rams (5-1). It will be a reunion with Matthew Stafford who will likely be the one walking away with a smile. The Rams defeated the Giants, 38-11, on Sunday.

THIS AND THAT: Fumbles were an issue last week, against the Bengals the Lions did not fumble. … Jack Fox punted six times and averaged 55.5 yards per punt with a long of 64 yards. … Tight end T.J. Hockenson caught 8 passes for 74 yards. … In the first half the Lions had 51 yards of offense and just four first downs. They finished with 15 first downs but only because of garbage time in the fourth when there was no way they could come back. … The Lions were 5-14 (35.7%) on third downs and 1-2 on fourth-down attempts. … The Bengals finished with 398 net yards while Detroit had 228. … Cincinnati won the time-of-possession battle with 35:52 to 24:08. … Julian Owkara had his first NFL sack and Austin Bryant also sacked Joe Burrow. … Derrick Barnes led all defensmen with 8 tackles. 

Five things to know about Lions hosting Bengals

Five games, five losses.  Looking for their first win, the Lions are back at Ford Field on Sunday to face the Cincinnati Bengals (3-2). 

If you’re thinking the Lions are feeling sorry for themselves because they’ve lost two of the last three games with 50-yard plus field goals and have the distinction of being the only team that’s been on the losing end of that situation.

“I think you’re always affected by (losing). I don’t think you can not be affected by it. It’s good to be mad. It’s good to be pissed off. It’s good to be wanting to be better,’’ quarterback Jared Goff said this week. “I think the scary thing is if it went numb, right? If everyone’s out here just, ‘Oh, whatever.’ I don’t believe that’s the case and I don’t believe that will ever be the case. So, it’s definitely a thing that we have amongst us, that energy, that forward thinking of, ‘We can’t keep letting these get to us.’”  

It’s another week which means a few more players placed on injured reserve and the positive thought that this train will get back on track sometime soon.

Five things to watch on Sunday: 

1. Getting off to a better offensive start might just save the heartache of a last second winning field goal from the opponent. But the Lions have been outscored 82-33 in the first half of the five games and ball security too often is just a dream. “We’ve had four turnovers in the last couple of weeks in scoring territory. When we improve in that area – and that can start with me – the play selections, our calls when we get in those areas, but it also starts with our protection and our quarterback decision making,’’ offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn said. “We can all get better in that area and we plan on doing that, but having four turnovers in scoring territory, that’s been tough not coming away with points in those situations.” 

2. The defense, which at times looks painfully young, has had a few good stretches. Just ask coordinator Aaron Glenn who said he is proud of the defense. “Each week, you continue to see improvement. It’s something we talk about each week about how we want this defense to operate, to be able to fight the way that they fight,’’ Glenn said. “You’re starting to see a little swagger with them. You’re starting to see a little bit more anticipation as far as plays are concerned. Each week – for the last three weeks, we’ve forced a turnover. We’re hitting the quarterback, we’re getting sacks.’’

3. A big reason for the defense’s success so far is Charles Harris who has a four-game sack streak going.  “First and foremost is (his) talent has always been there. A lot of times as a coach, you have to make sure you can match that talent with a scheme that allows him to go out there and be successful, and that’s one thing we as coaches we pride ourselves on is to make sure that as much as we can, each player makes sure whatever they do best, you put them in those positions to be able to successful and we try to do that with Charles,’’ Glenn said. “Right now, he’s hitting the quarterback and getting the sacks that we expect him to get and we want to continue to do it with him along with everybody else and what they do well …:

4. Although Campbell would never use it as an excuse, his coaching staff is still getting to know each other in its first season together. But he thinks there has been growth so far. “We have because it’s – first of all, just being able to work together and get through all of these – get through just all of the ins and outs of working with one another, then working with me, game day, and building game plans together,’’ Campbell said. “You figure a lot out about each other. Really, no different than players, but what the strength of your staff is. Some excel at different areas than others and, how do you blend that and how do they complement each other? And so, it’s evolving and you’re figuring it out and that’s as big of a part of it as the players as well. And then inside of that, you do. You get the injuries, and so you’re kind of adapting to that and where you go. It’s getting better, but it is. It’s a process.”

5. With a young team there are many learning situations, including closing out a game: “I think you have to try to put yourself in as many of those situations as you can in preparation for games. But then, yeah, you just – the only way to gain confidence is to prove you can do it in a game and be there and have found a way to finish out because now you know what that feels like,’’ Campbell said. “You know what it looks like, you understand what the pressure is and you overcome it. You find a way to make that one extra play, or that one less mistake that your opponent made to win. So, absolutely. You are eventually trying to train yourself to find a way to win those games and understand the pressure that you’re put under to perform and not crack.”

PREDICTION: Bengals 34, Lions 24