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)

Five things to know about the Lions’ loss to the Browns

Game in, game out the Detroit Lions excel at shooting themselves in the foot. They did it again on Sunday in a 13-10 loss to the Browns at Cleveland.

With the loss, Detroit falls to 0-9-1 and must make a quick turn-around to face the Bears (3-7) on Thanksgiving.

First things first.

All the blame for the loss can not be placed on quarterback Tim Boyle. It was his first career start in the NFL. Penalties and befuddling play-calling played a huge role in the loss. 

“I’m sure there were a lot of people who thought I was too conservative and maybe I ought to throw it a lot more but I’m not ready to do that with where we are here. … I think you’ve got to go where the game takes you,’’ coach Dan Campbell said.

The defense, however, came up big, shutting down the Browns in the second half. “I thought our defense played their hearts out,’’ Campbell said.

Five things to know:

1. The Lions had a chance to pull out a win. With 5:16 left in the game and down 13-10, the Lions had the ball on their own 40 after a beauty of a catch by T.J. Hockenson which was good for 24 yards. Then on first down, Jamaal Williams gets nothing, on second down Campbell calls a screen pass that did not fool the Browns defense and the Lions lose 4 yards. On third-and-14, it was a draw play for D’Andre Swift and he only gathered 5 yards. Game over once the Browns got the ball back and Nick Chubb just kept running.

2. The Lions finished with seven penalties for 67 yards. It was not just the number of penalties, on a Browns’ second-quarter drive Lions’ penalties on third and fourth downs kept their drive alive ending in a touchdown pass to Chubb. Oh, and between the third and fourth quarters Jonah Jackson was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. So the Lions were at first-and-25 instead of first-and-10 to start the fourth. Campbell said Jackson said something about somebody’s mother. He wasn’t more specific, but said there was a lot of talk going on.

3. The defense knew they had to stop running back Nick Chubb. The guy is a load, no doubt, but he carried the ball 22 times for 130 yards and scored with a touchdown reception. Detroit defense did keep the Browns off the scoreboard in the second half. Amani Oruwariye and A.J. Parker intercepted Baker Mayfield. 

4. Tim Boyle gained some momentum as the game wore on, finishing 15 of 23 for 77 yards and two interceptions. This was his first NFL start and it showed. Campbell said it’s unclear if Jared Goff, who has an oblique injury, will be ready to play on Thursday. If he’s ready he will play. If Boyle gets the start again, the coach said he’ll be better noting how he improved between the first and fourth quarters. “He ran the offense well, we had no communication errors. … I’m not disappointed in the kid,’’ Campbell said, admitting Boyle was rusty since he hadn’t played since August.

5. D’Andre Swift was a machine again. The Lions’ only touchdown came when he broke open for a 57-yard run into the endzone in the third quarter. He had 14 carries for 136 yards. He became the first player in team history to produce a TD rush of 50-plus yards and TD reception of 50-plus yards in a season since Barry Sanders in 1997. He’s also only the fifth Lion to ever produce 125-plus rushing yards in consecutive games. Swift had 130 rushing yards last week in the tie with the Steelers.

UP NEXT: The Lions (0-9-1) host the Bears (3-7) on Thanksgiving at Ford Field. The Bears lost 16-13 to the Ravens on Sunday.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)