Thu, 29 Oct 2020

Mike OHara

Head coach Matt Patricia talked about the Detroit Lions "riding the wave" of emotion as he searched to explain why his team has continued to lose games after holding leads.

It doesn't explain everything that has gone wrong with the Lions since Patricia became head coach in 2018, but there is some logic in his observation that his teams don't maintain their focus for the full 60 minutes.

Sunday's 42-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field was another example of how the Lions consistently have failed to play well from start to finish.

They played 15 minutes of good football, building a 14-3 lead in the first quarter. After that, the momentum shifted to the Packers as they scored 31 consecutive points to turn the game into a rout.

In the season opener a week earlier against the Bears, it took the Lions longer to lose their grip. They had a 23-6 lead in the fourth quarter before wilting. They gave up three touchdown passes and lost, 27-23.

In two games, the Lions have lost 32 points combined in leads - 21 to the Bears, 11 to the Packers.

This week's Monday Countdown looks at Patricia's comments in Sunday's postgame press conference about why the Lions have lost leads.

To be clear, he did not exempt the performance of the team or himself.

There also are takeaways on offense, defense and special teams, who's trending --- up, down and maintaining - and what's ahead.

We start with Patricia's comments:

1. Momentum: As fast as the Lions generate it, it disappears just as fast. Sunday was another example of that.

"We've got to keep it going," he said Sunday in answer to a question. "That energy, that focus - all of it. We cant ride the wave of the game. We can't go up and down ... and be really high and something happens and then really low, and then pick it up.

"Something good happens, we get really high again. Just the ebb and flow of the game. We've got to stay consistent. We've got to ignore that. We've got to not think about the end result before we get to the end result.

"We have to think about the play at that moment and stay in that moment."

2. Losing streak: The Lions have lost 11 straight games. The last time they won a game was Oct. 27 of last year - a 31-26 squeaker over the Giants at Ford Field.

That's a long time for a coach to have to stand at a podium and answer questions on the state of his team - especially one who came from the New England Patriots, who lost only 10 regular-season games combined in Patricia's last three seasons as their defensive coordinator.

Patricia clearly didn't like the idea of being saddled with an 11-game losing streak.

"For us, it's the 2020 season," he said Sunday. "We've got two losses in a row. I think that's where we're at for us. It's a different team. We've got a long way to go.

"We've got to get better."

NOTEBOOK: Stafford talks pick-6, confidence moving forward FOUR DOWNS: Defense struggles in loss to Packers O'HARA'S BURNING QUESTIONS: What was the bottom line in loss to Packers? 

3. Matthew Stafford: For the second straight game he had a key interception that affected the outcome. In Week 1 against the Bears it was a throw into double coverage late in the fourth quarter that was deflected in the air and intercepted.

That one put the Bears in position to score the winning touchdown on Mitchell Trubisky's third TD pass of the game.

Sunday at Lambeau it was an interception that was returned for a TD that gave the Packers a 31-14 lead midway through the third quarter.

The two picks are uncharacteristic of Stafford, who's been at his best in the fourth quarter.

4. Takeaways, offense:

It didn't mean much in terms of the final score, but rookie running back D'Andre Swift made a nice recovery from his dropped pass in the opener with five catches on five targets for 60 yards. That was one of the few bright spots for the Lions. With rookie Jonah Jackson making his second start at right guard and two starters out with injuries, left tackle Taylor Decker and center Frank Ragnow were the only regular starters on the offensive line Sunday. Circumstances dictated that he didn't get the ball more, but running back Adrian Peterson showed that his performance in the opener was not a fluke with seven carries for 41 yards, an average of 5.9 yards per carry.

5. Takeaways, defense:

The Lions held the Packers to three points and three first downs in the first quarter, but the gates opened soon after that - 11 first downs and 14 points in the second quarter, eight first downs and 17 points in the third. For the second straight game the Lions had only one sack. Linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. got it. Two sacks in two games does not bode well for next week's game against the Cardinals, who have one of the most elusive quarterbacks in the league in Kyler Murray. Takeaway on takeaways: The Lions have no fumble recoveries or interceptions after two games. That does not lead to winning.

6. Takeaways, special teams:

Rookie punter Jack Fox had a second straight big game, averaging 54.2 yards on five punts, with a long punt of 67 yards. His net average was 53 yards, with only six yards on two returns. On his only field-goal attempt, kicker Matt Prater was wide right from 57 yards on the last play of the first half. His other miss was from 55 yards in the fourth quarter of the opener vs. the Bears. That makes his average miss from 56 yards.

7. Trending

Up: Tight end T.J. Hockenson. He had four catches for 64 yards, and they came on four targets. He had five catches on five targets in the opener. Down: Take your pick - one sack for the second straight game, or no turnovers for the second straight game. Neither is acceptable. Even: Jahlani Tavai. The second-year linebacker had six tackles. He had four tackles and a quarterback hit in the opener.

8. Coming up: It doesn't get any easier for the Lions. They are at Arizona next week, then home against the Saints before their Week 5 bye.

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