The Detroit Lions lost a wild contest Sunday at the Superdome, falling 52-38 to the New Orleans Saints. This is Detroit’s second consecutive defeat and third over their past four contests as the team moves to an even 3-3 on the season.
It was a roller-coaster like game in New Orleans, with the Saints shooting out to a humiliating 45-10 advantage early in the third quarter. Just like last Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers, the Lions recovered, cutting the score to 45-38 with six minutes remaining. But their comeback attempt would fall short yet again. Here are three takeaways from the team’s week six loss:
Week Six Detroit Lions Takeaways
The Battle at the Trenches
Over the past few weeks, one of the biggest weaknesses of this Detroit Lions football team was their offensive line. That didn’t change in New Orleans.
With T.J. Lang inactive due to a back injury, the unit struggled more than ever. Matthew Stafford was sacked another five times Sunday for a loss of 31 yards, the third straight week the star quarterback was sacked five times or more.
In addition, the Saints defense swatted down 12 passes at the line of scrimmage, just two short of the NFL record of 14. One of those deflected passes proved to be the game-clinching play, with New Orleans defensive end Cameron Jordan tipping a Stafford bullet into the air and intercepting it in the endzone. The score gave the Saints a 52-38 lead with five minutes left, ending Detroit’s comeback threat.
The Lions defensive line didn’t impress anyone either. They failed to record a single sack on Drew Brees while totaling only two tackles for loss. These are numbers Detroit needs to flip around if they want to avoid a total collapse this season.
Winning the battle at the line of scrimmage is one of the most important aspects of football. Any club has to play tough up front if they wish to remain competitive. Hopefully, the Lions can turn it around quickly. Otherwise, it’s going to be a long year in the Motor City.
Outside of the offensive line, Detroit’s skill position players have also continued to disappoint.
Stafford passed for 312 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, but also completed only 25 of his 52 pass attempts and tossed three interceptions. His 62.3 passer rating against the Saints is his lowest mark since week four of last season, and his 21.8 QBR is his lowest value in that statistic since week eight of 2015.
After posting QBR values all above 60 the first three games of the season, Stafford has now failed to top 30.2 since. The Georgia product is dealing with an ankle sprain that put him on the injury report ahead of Sunday’s contest. Although the 29-year-old’s availability was never in doubt, the injury could be more serious than initially thought.
At the conclusion of last season, Stafford played through a damaged finger. The injury clearly affected his performance, contributing to the Lions ending the campaign with four consecutive defeats. Detroit’s medical staff better figure out Stafford’s current problem soon before the same thing happens again this year.
Furthermore, the Lions run game continues to look lost. Ameer Abdullah managed only 54 rushing yards on 14 carries, with 34 of those yards coming on one rush attempt alone. There have been times this season that Abdullah has impressed. But for him to truly become the franchise back Detroit needs, the 24-year-old is going to have to prove he can remain consistent.
Overall, the Lions offense did squander some nice individual performances in New Orleans. Golden Tate caught six passes for 96 yards, including a remarkable after-the-catch run on a 45-yard touchdown early in the first quarter. Marvin Jones totaled another 96 yards on seven receptions of his own, including a one-handed, Odell-Beckham-like touchdown in the third period.
But for the Lions to start winning some games, the entire offense needs to show up. And that just didn’t happen on Sunday.
What Happened To The Defense?
As the Lions jumped out to a 3-1 record to start off the 2017 campaign, it was the team’s defense that received a majority of the credit. They forced turnovers, stopped the opposing run-game and made veteran quarterbacks look like rookies. Since then, however, the tides have turned completely.
After getting torched last week by Cam Newton and company, things didn’t look much better for the first 30 minutes on Sunday. Through the first-half, Brees totaled 148 yards on 12 of 14 passing and a touchdown. Mark Ingram, meanwhile, added 83 first-half rushing yards and two more scores of his own.
The defensive performance did improve for the remainder of the contest, though. Brees added only 36 second-half yards through the air while Ingram totaled a meager 31 on the ground. By then, however, it was too little too late. Detroit did pull within one score at the six minute mark, but there was too much damage to overcome.
Additionally, star safety Glover Quin was forced to leave the game with a suspected concussion in the third quarter. This would be a terrible loss for an already-struggling Detroit defensive corps.
Overall, the Lions have a lot of work to do before their next matchup Monday, October 29 at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers. With a bye next week, hopefully they can break out of their current slump and return to the kind of football that can get Detroit back to the postseason for the third time in four years.