The weather outside at Lincoln Financial Field was frightful, and so was the Detroit Lions' run defense. Despite managing a treacherous snowstorm relatively well throughout the first 30 minutes. the Lions imploded late, allowing the Philadelphia Eagles to explode during an ugly second half.
In total, the Eagles finished that second half with 476 yards. It was a stunning meltdown, even for the Lions, who've become accustomed to losing in a myriad of strange and disappointing ways. Save for Jeremy Ross' Herculean effort on special teams and a touchdown fueled by an early Nick Foles interception, nothing went right for the Detroit offense, either. That added up to an ugly 34-20 thumping. The Hunt Report talks a cold, failed hunt in perhaps one of the ugliest snowstorms in NFL history.
Turnovers Killed. Again. A week after they were able to overcome all their mistakes against the hapless Packers, the Lions weren't so lucky this Sunday. Though they got the majority of their seven fumbles back outside of Joique Bell's two, the Lions and Matthew Stafford put the ball all over the ground on Sunday. The worst of the turnovers came with Detroit threatening the end zone when a snap sailed over Stafford's head and was recovered by Philadelphia. The Eagles, meanwhile, didn't seem to mind the conditions as much. Detroit has to take better care of the football down the stretch as they play some tougher defenses. If not, it's going to be a rough finish to the season for a team which was expected to do much better.
Detroit's Run Defense Was Terrible. After bottling up LeSean McCoy early, the Lions let him go off in the second half, enough to set a personal best for rushing yardage in a game. Carlos Polk also scored an easy touchdown and went for 50 yards. The worst part about the performance was how the Lions' line was getting constantly blown off the ball by the Eagles offensive line. Detroit defenders were taking poor angles and tackling each other at times. A poor field and tough conditions can only be blamed for so much. It's obvious technique and "want to" were part of the problem on Sunday, as well, as the Lions did decently in the first half.
Ed Hochuli's Lousy Calls Helped Turn The Game. This isn't to absolve the Lions' terrible, lazy effort in half two, but a critical sequence shifted momentum. First, Nick Fairley was called for a weak roughing the passer penalty which wasn't close to being a late hit. Then, after that drive was capped off with a score, a bizarre holding call on Ndamukong Suh helped allow the Eagles convert the two point try. DeSean Jackson's touchdown was certainly questionable considering many felt he went out of bounds and came back in but Hochuli saw things differently. All of those plays helped turn the momentum of a quiet game into a roaring behemoth for the Eagles, and the team never looked back from their gifts.
For The First Time This Season, It Appeared Detroit Gave Up. The Lions didn't have any fight in them late after giving up so many big plays. Offensively and defensively, the team went through the same usual motions late, including turnovers, a stagnant offense and big defensive mistakes. After the game, several Lions wouldn't talk to the media, including Reggie Bush, Nick Fairley, Dominic Raiola and Stephen Tulloch. It's clear there could be leadership problems in the wake of such an ugly loss when players aren't talking after seemingly giving in on the field. How will that play out in the coming weeks with big games left?
Jeremy Ross Is (Still) The Real Deal. The play of Ross has been a big deal for the Lions' special teams. Sunday, Ross was an impressive force for the second week in a row, taking a punt and a kickoff to the house a week after looking dangerous against the Packers. It was the first time a kickoff and punt had been taken back in the same game by the Lions since Eddie Payton in 1977. Ross has a chance to be a major player for Detroit on special teams, and showed why Martin Mayhew might look like a genius for keeping him around.
Lions? Ross stands out, along with Joique Bell, who ran well most of the afternoon despite the fumbles. Defensively, Willie Young was all over the field making tackles, and Rashean Mathis had a decent day in coverage. Not a good day for anyone else, though.
Lambs? Matthew Stafford was outplayed by Nick Foles in the snow. The entire Lions' defensive line needs to be included, as well, for completely collapsing in the second half.
Stat Of The Day: 13, the amount of rushing first downs the Eagles had. Cream rose to the top in the second half, as LeSean McCoy proved he was a superior back to Joique Bell and Theo Riddick, who was being used as an emergency policy considering the loss of Reggie Bush. The lack of Mikel Leshoure, who's game might have been better suited to the rough field, was a questionable move by Jim Schwartz. The Lions got cute trying to pass the ball, and with the amount of botched snaps and dropped passes, clearly it cost them on both sides of the ball considering the treacherous conditions. Thy should have taken a page out of the Eagles book and stuck to the run.
What About The Five Things? Entering this unexpected snow bowl, we said it would be important to watch the Lions' defensive line play. It was bad, allowing Nick Foles time to throw and McCoy room to run. The Eagles won the time of possession battle by nearly three minutes, and Detroit's secondary, though helped by the elements, gave up a few big plays through the air. Foles himself rebounded from an early interception and helped his team win with careful play, and David Akers wasn't a factor with the ugly field conditions, but did have an extra point blocked.
Stalking The Next Prey: In another vital match up for playoff positioning, the Lions take on the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football on December 16. The game will begin at 8:30 p.m and will be broadcast on ESPN.
The "Later" Limerick:
"Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow?"
The Lions just say "no!"
Regardless, this loss will look the same,
By any other name
As playoff odds still refuse to grow.
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