Lost in all of the negativity of another usual collapse, which could have been frieght with some of the hallmarks of the Same Old Lions, was the fact that Detroit actually managed to outplay the opposition, which leads to definite signs of positivity for the future.
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Of course naysayers will point to all the negative, but the reality is, Lions teams of the recent past wouldn’t have even had the gumption to hang with a solid team like the Ravens. They wouldn’t have had the right game plan from the beginning, much less be able to execute it the way the Lions did much of the afternoon.
Save for a late breakdown, the Lions did well to slow the dynamic Baltimore offense. Minus a single touchdown pass and a few big runs, Lamar Jackson was not a major factor in the game, and was sacked 4 times. Baltimore didn’t run away from Detroit at all, and the Lions were right in the game from the start until the end.
Though they were ultimately doomed by a miracle last second field goal, the Lions didn’t give up, and were much closer to victory than the first two weeks of the season. There are no moral victories in the NFL, but given what the Lions are trying to accomplish, the rules should be a bit different for them this year.
Coming off a short week, the Lions found a way to battle until the end. The roster has impressive fight, and as they continue to get the horses, it will be fun to see if they can get over the hump. Lions fans should be encouraged even in the spite of more heartbreak.
D’Andre Swift Should Have Been Unleashed Sooner
Swift should have scored a touchdown on a pass that wasn’t reviewed, but the running back heated up in the second half and managed to put up 107 total yards on the day. The Lions seemed to make feeding Swift a conscious part of the game plan in the second half and it almost worked for them in a comeback. Next time, the Lions shouldn’t wait to get Swift the ball and should work it to him much earlier on the field. It’s clear Swift is a game breaker in the making, so getting him the ball as much as the team can should be a big goal moving forward. It was better late than never this week, but earlier could have helped the Lions’ offense in a bigger way.
Discipline Was an Issue for Detroit
The Lions collected 7 penalties for 35 yards and struggled with the fundamentals, especially on fourth down and short when they repeatedly moved, thwarting a couple of chances to extend drives. The Lions also foolishly ran out of bounds on a punt, preventing a turnover that had taken place. While the Lions and Ravens had nearly the same number of penalties, Detroit’s felt more crushing, proving the importance of discipline to the entire operation. This is a point that Dan Campbell is going to have to hammer home to his young team in practice.
Detroit’s Defense Turned Things Around
After struggling for the first few weeks, the Detroit defense stepped up and played their best game of the season against all odds. The Lions only allowed a high-octane Baltimore attack to score 19 total points on just 387 yards of total offense. Better yet, the Lions forced a key turnover and also got after the quarterback spot to the tune of 4 sacks. Considering what had happened in recent weeks, this was a big win for Detroit and something to build on moving forward. Give Aaron Glenn credit for a solid game plan that held up and nearly provided the team a win.
Lion? Kalif Raymond, Wide Receiver
Raymond showed up big time for the first time this season, putting up 68 yards including a huge catch and run late in the game which helped the Lions’ final scoring drive. With T.J. Hockenson blanketed, the Lions needed to find someone to step up and Raymond did in crunch time. Hopefully, this is the start of something big for Raymond as the season continues and he gains confidence.
Lamb? Scott Novak, Referee
The Lions themselves batted until the end, so no need to call anyone out from the team for battling and trying to help in a winning effort. Instead, the league’s referee once again looked clueless in crunch time, and his response after the game to a potential critical clock issue seemed just as tone-deaf. Novak is a good reason the league should review the performance of their referees and issue statements at the end of seasons. Without that transparency, it’s impossible for anyone to know what really happens with the law in the NFL.
Lions’ Stat of the Game: 32:33
That’s the time of possession for the Lions, who had the ball just over 5:06 longer than the Ravens in the entire game. As a whole, the game plan was obvious, and it revolved around keeping the Baltimore offense off of the field and soaking the clock. It nearly worked to perfection on a team that prides themselves on dominating in the trenches and wearing down the opposition.
Lions’ Quote of the Game:
“I think if you really want a sharpened sword, you want something elite, you got to put it under a lot of heat and a lot of pressure. That’s what we’re under right now. I think we’re going to come out the other end pretty good out of this.” -Dan Campbell. It’s clear that Campbell likes what he sees from the Lions as well, and he remains encouraged by the team’s fight as they move forward.