The Detroit Lions haven't won in the state of Arizona since 1993. After Sunday's narrow 25-21 loss was added to the historical ledger there, that fact might have to last for a few more years.
Doomed by a series of special teams mishaps, offensive inconsistencies and penalties, the Lions collapsed late in the fourth quarter despite battling back in a seesaw affair. Defensively, Detroit did more than enough to win, but a tired group gave up a late touchdown drive after the offense routinely sputtered. An injury to Reggie Bush may have changed the dynamic of the game, as the 2013 Lions looked like the 2012 edition of the team without their newest offensive weapon. The Hunt Report wanders the desert for answers after the first loss of the season.
Special Teams Returned To Miserable. Whether it was David Akers missing three field goals or Michael Spurlock routinely forgetting where he was on the field and costing Detroit hidden yardage, the Lions didn't clean up much in week two from week one. Just one of Akers' field goals would have helped, with the most costly being an ugly blown assignment which led to a block. In a close game like this, special teams makes all the difference. Jay Feely was perfect on his field goals and Akers was not. A few of Spurlock's mistakes put the Lions behind with field position. At the end of the day, that hurt Detroit plenty. Conversely, the Cardinals had Detroit buried deep all day long, helping them win the field position battle easily.
This Time, Don't Blame The Defense. Aside from Bill Bentley's ugly end zone interference penalty late, Detroit had plenty of big defensive stands in second half, routinely stopping the Cardinals on sudden change situations and holding them to three field goals, even scoring a touchdown. Yes, the penalty meltdowns hurt late, but with defenders getting gassed after being on the field so much, the Lions were going to break eventually. Credit the defense for holding Detroit in a game which could have gotten much further out of hand.
Without Reggie Bush, Detroit's Offense Is Too Predictable. This game was lost because the Lions failed to move the ball at all in the second half. After flying up and down the field to the tune of two touchdowns in the first half, Detroit hit a lull when Bush left the game with a knee injury and returned looking worse than he was before, fumbling the ball. Considering Bush's durability issues, the Lions need to get more out of everyone else when he's absent, or the team resembles the 2012 Lions. Calvin Johnson also disappeared in the second half after putting up phenomenal numbers in the first. From Matthew Stafford down, it was unacceptable. 90 yards of offense in a fourth quarter won't win games.
Detroit Just Cannot Shake The Penalty Bug. As Fox 2 Detroit's Jennifer Hammond tweeted, of the Lions' 101 penalty yards, 84 came in the second half. That's unacceptable. The parade started with Willie Young's frustrating illegal hands to the face call which wiped out a Lions' fumble recovery, then Israel Idonije collected a personal foul, sparking the Arizona drive. Finally, Bill Bentley took an irresponsible pass interference penalty in the end zone, setting Arizona up. For some reason, discipline and the Lions can't get along. Certainly, it's not the only reason Detroit lost Sunday, but once again, untimely penalties did play a role in defeat.
Stat Of The Day: 1-11, Arizona's third down percentage. The Lions thwarted the Cardinals all day long during defensive crunch time, but somehow, Arizona managed to win despite almost never converting on third down. There's certainly something for Detroit to build on here, considering Arizona was 7-14 on third down last week on the road against St. Louis and looked much more efficient.
Lambs? Missing three field goals, David Akers certainly qualifies here, Brandon Pettigrew dropped an important pass late and had issues with drops again today. Rookie Darius Slay had his second straight rough week of indoctrination into NFL life, and was benched. Bill Bentley? Tough day all around. Michael Spurlock was an adventure in the return game, as well.
Lions? Calvin Johnson had another ho-hum, two touchdown 118 yard performance. DeAndre Levy made a defensive impact play for the second week in a row. Glover Quin also played solid, hard hitting defense over the middle.
What About The Five Things? Coming into this match up, we said Reggie Bush would be a key. He was, as his injury certainly helped stall Detroit's offense. No secondary receiver helped Calvin Johnson out, as Patrick Edwards got hurt, Nate Burleson was largely ineffective and Brandon Pettigrew continued his drops. Corey Hilliard played well for the line in Jason Fox's absence, Ndamukong Suh's discipline showed as he played well, raising his game and making some big plays in the middle of the line. Finally, the Lions couldn't avoid big mistakes, as penalties hurt, as did one tough turnover.
Stalking The Next Prey: The Lions stay on the road and head to the nation's capital for a matchup with the Washington Redskins. The game begins next Sunday at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on Fox.
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