Five takeaways: Turnovers costly as Lions lose 24-6 to Dallas Cowboys

Coming off the bye week, the Lions defense played with confidence but the offense struggled in the 24-6 loss at the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. The Lions (1-5) took the early lead and held on with a 6-3 halftime edge, but they could not finish. Detroit turned the ball over five times in the second half. 

Coach Dan Campbell was clearly frustrated with the loss, but said he is not down. 

“There’s things that pop up but that’s what we’re charged with. That’s what I’m charged with. it doesn’t matter who we have or what we’re doing or who we’re playing, the bottom line is you have to find a way to win,’’ Campbell said. “I really felt like we were on track to do that and we made a couple of mistakes that killed us, the turnovers.’’

Five takeaways from the loss:
1. The defense came out on fire. Aidan Hutchinson picked up a half a sack on the third snap and added a full sack later. Cornerback Jeff Okudah stood out with 15 tackles. Campbell said it was Okudah’s best week of practice and best game this season. He also praised rookie defensive lineman Josh Paschal for his explosiveness, versatility, high motor and intelligence in his first NFL game. Corner Amani Oruwariye, who was benched in the last game, was back as a starter and had a good game.. The Cowboys had not started a game with two three-and-outs since 1991 (per CBS). “I told those guys I feel you can win when you play that type of defense, they set the tone for the game, they played hard, they were on point, we were physical on the perimeter,’’ Campbell said.”I thought our corners and safeties really showed up. That was a step in the right direction.”

2. Jared Goff threw two interceptions which pretty much wiped out any success he had in the rest of the game. Goff was sacked five times by the Cowboys’ defense, one of the best in the NFL. He finished 21 of 26 for 228 yards. “There’s no excuse but some of those at the end you’re down a couple of scores, you’re trying to hold it a little bit to find a throw. We’ll look at the tape,’’ Campbell said.

3. It was the second straight game the Lions’ offense has not scored a touchdown. They were 3-of-9 on third-down attempts. Running back Jamaal Williams fumbled twice — losing the second one at the Cowboys’ 1-yard line. Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown suffered a concussion early in the game and was ruled out. He was missed not just for his catches but he excels at blocking. Tight ends T.J. Hockenson and Brock Wright had good showings on National Tight End day with a combined 8 catches for 105 yard. The offense was missing running back D’Andre Swift, who could return next week, and wide receiver D.J. Chark who was placed on injured reserve. “Offensively we played the type of game we needed to play against this opponent minus the turnovers and that’s what killed us – turnovers and inopportune penalties,’’ Campbell said.

4.  Two plays stood out as possibly questionable. On Goff’s first interception by Stefon Diggs it looked like maybe Diggs didn’t not have control of the ball when he hit the turf. However, Campbell said he was told by officials that indeed Diggs had possession. CBS analyst Tony Romo disagreed. Because it was a turnover, Campbell could not ask for a replay. Then when Brock Wright caught a 17-yard pass, there was a question of whether it was a touchdown or if he was stopped just short. Campbell didn’t have a good view, so he was waiting for his guy upstairs to call him and recommend whether he should challenge it. He didn’t get a call (he has a line solely for this purpose) so the next play was run and that’s when Williams fumbled the ball on the 1-yard line.

5. The defense still has work to do but Glenn made changes during the bye week, including benching captain Michael Brockers, that seemed to bring life back into the unit. The offense should immediately improve with the return of Swift. He was close this week, maybe next week against the Dolphins. St. Brown could be out a while going through the concussion protocol. That will hurt the offense too. It’s next man up, but it’s difficult to match the talent of Swift and St. Brown.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

(Next up: Miami Dolphins at Lions, 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30)

Lions draft DE Josh Paschal in second round

Josh Paschal, a defensive end, was the Lions’ second-round pick (46th overall) in the NFL draft on Friday night.

Paschal, who is 6-foot-3 and 268 pounds, played four seasons at Kentucky, playing in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2017. He was a captain for three seasons.

“It just means that I was blessed enough to be around a lot of great leaders and they helped me become the leader I am. I’m a guy who can change locker rooms,’’ Paschal said in a virtual media briefing on Friday night. “That’s my goal is to come in and learn from the veterans and also step into a leadership role as well.’’

He red-shirted his junior year while undergoing treatment for malignant melanoma which included multiple surgeries and a year of immunotherapy on the bottom of his right foot. He said the experience made him cherish his blessings.

Paschal has the ability to play in odd or even fronts.

“Versatility is one of the basics of my game. I move all across the front, I am not sure what coach (Todd) Wash and coach (Aaron) Glenn have planned, whatever it is I’ll give my all and I’m very versatile so whatever it is I’ll be able to pick it up,” Paschal said. 

His formal interview with the Lions took place at the NFL Combine.

“I met Dan Campbell, coach Wash, coach Glenn, I met them all there. We hit it off, we watched some film, we talked about ball and life. Instantly I knew it’d be a great fit,’’ Paschal said.

He’s the second defensive end drafted by the Lions in their top four picks. Detroit drafted Aidan Hutchinson, a Michigan defensive end, with the second overall pick.

Paschal said the two met at the Combine.

An NFL.com draft profile of Paschal said: “He’s like a block of granite at the point of attack with low pads and a heavy anchor. He has the twitch to see-and-shed against single blocks and the range to make a tackle a gap away. His face-up rush style lacks elusiveness and will see limited success off the edge, but his snap quickness fits perfectly as an interior rusher in sub-packages. Paschal might never be a star, but he’s a good future starter with winning character that coaches and fans will grow to love.’’

He started all 13 games in 2019 (34 tackles, 9.5 for loss with 3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles) and 10 of 11 games played in 2020 (32 tackles, 6.5 for loss). He finished his career on a high note, earning second-team All-SEC and Academic All-American honors while leading the Wildcats with 15.5 tackles for loss, including 5.5 sacks among his 53 total tackles, in 12 starts. Paschal opted out of the team’s bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft, per NFL.com.