In an embarrassing 20-0 shutout loss, the Detroit Lions proved they indeed are not an NFL playoff team.
Because of their 4-5 record entering the game and their upcoming schedule against teams with losing records, there was a glimmer of hope. That was extinguished at the hands of the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
The Panthers, who had lost their previous five games, played a backup quarterback (P.J. Walker) in his first NFL start. They were without running back Christian McCaffrey and still they made it look easy.
“Give them credit, they did a much better job executing than we did,’’ coach Matt Patricia said.
The Lions were missing key players too — Kenny Golladay, D’Andre Swift and Danny Amendola — but no excuse.
Matthew Stafford, playing with an injured thumb, watched as at least three of his receivers dropped catches.
“As far as throwing the ball it felt pretty good,’’ Stafford said about his thumb.
He celebrated a 51-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Jones Jr., only to have it brought back due to an illegal formation by Jones on the flea-flicker. It was a true microcosm of the game.
After 11 sacks in their first 10 games, the Panthers sacked Stafford five times. As the game wore on, it just looked worse and worse for the Lions. The run game finished with a measly 40 yards with their longest run only at 8 yards.
Detroit’s defense made Walker look like a poised veteran. He did throw two interceptions in the end zone, but he also passed for 258 yards and one touchdown.
It’s time — or maybe past time — to take a good, long look at coach Matt Patricia’s future in Detroit. He’s now 13-28-1 with the Lions. Once again, he didn’t appear to have his team ready and it showed.
Halftime adjustments? Not so much. The Lions’ offense started the third quarter and went three and out.
Afterward, Patricia was peppered with questions afterward about his future. “I go to work every day to try to earn my job. That’s just what I do,’’ Patricia said.
When Stafford was asked if the team still responds to Patricia, he had a one-word answer: “Absolutely.”
Stafford always puts the blame on himself and his teammates, never points at coaches.
“We have enough talent to go out there and win, we’ve just got to go do it,’’ Stafford said. “We have to play better than we’re playing. I don’t care who you are as a coach if we don’t go out there and play well it doesn’t matter. We need to go out there and play better.’’
The last time the Lions were shut out was on Oct. 18, 2009. It was Stafford’s rookie year but he wasn’t playing due to injury. Quarterbacks Daunte Culpepper and Drew Stanton threw three interceptions combined in the 26-0 loss at Green Bay.
Stafford didn’t see Sunday’s loss as rock-bottom. Instead to him, it was just one game.
“Believe me, I got here in 2009 and from where we (were) then to where we are now we’re a better organization, a better football team, more talented,’’ Stafford said. “At the moment we don’t have as many wins as we wish we had this year but it’s one football game. We have to move on from it, get ready to play another one and hopefully score a bunch of points and win the game.’’
The Lions (4-6) have a quick turn-around, hosting the Houston Texans at 12:30 p.m. at Ford Field on Thanksgiving. The Texans (3-7) beat the Patriots, 27-20, on Sunday.
(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)