The Lions Den: Nullified in New York

After a tough loss to the New York Giants, how will the Lions respond in their remaining two game stretch.

The Lions Den: Nullified in New York

So Close, Yet so Far

The three game gauntlet has begun to take a negative effect on the Detroit Lions in only the first of three deadly match ups that round out the regular season. The Detroit Lions suffered their first loss in five match ups to the New York Giants 17-6 in the surprisingly warm conditions of Metlife Stadium. The battered offense of Detroit sputtered throughout the entire game and never gained traction against the Giants defense that played surprisingly tough all throughout regulation, despite the absences of Jason Pierre-Paul and Janorus Jenkins, the star studded corner who left the game with a back injury. Matthew Stafford seemed to not be affected by his dislocated middle finger and his new glove, but he seemed extremely frustrated with his offense during the game. The Lions only had three red zone trips through sixty minutes that resulted in one field goal and two turnovers. This was disappointing efficiency in such an important part of the field.

Detroit had all the chances in the world to make some plays from the get-go. The Lions defense was stunned by the Giants formerly non-existent running game in the first drive. The Giants also had some help from the officiating crew, who missed a blatant dropped ball by Odell Beckham Jr. The ball clearly hit the ground, yet it was deemed a catch. They pounded the ball all the way down the field, and Eli Manning threw a beautiful fading ball to the corner of the end zone to find Sterling Shepard for the first score of the game. The Lions followed by going three and out on their first drive, but had some success on their next possession.  Receiver Golden Tate made a fantastic double move down the right sideline of the field only to have the ball swatted out of his hands by the rookie corner Eli Apple. Many say that football is a game of inches, and that sequence between the two was a prime example. Apple barely got his fingertips across to deflect the ball.

Shortly after, Detroit found themselves ten yards away from the Giants end zone. They called on running back Zach Zenner to try to punch it in. Zenner found a hole and charged in, only to have the ball popped out of his hands from a textbook collision by a Giants safety. New York recovered the ball in their own end zone and took over on offense. To make things even worse, New York had an almost identical fumble a yard away from Detroit’s end zone on their following drive. Safety Tayvon Wilson dove for the ball, but it squeaked out from under his arms and the Giants recovered it. It was deemed a touchdown at the time, but was then called back for a personal foul by a Giants offensive lineman. Things began to snowball from there for Detroit after Darius Slay left the game with an injured hamstring. The star-studded Odell Beckham Jr. played well as expected, flourishing in the weak secondary and coming up with a beautiful one handed snag for a TD that sunk the dagger into the chests of Lions fans to close out the game. Stafford tried to force a touchdown with only 50 seconds remaining but was forced into a bad throw that led to yet another turnover.

Did The Offense Forget to Board The Plane?

The Lions offense struggled to start anything for the entirety of the game. The injured Stafford appeared to be comfortable with his new throwing hand, but that did not seem to be the problem. The running game was what killed Detroit, completely debunking any sort of authority that they could have established on the ground early on. The rookie Dwayne Washington, filled in for an injured Theo Riddick. He had 13 carries for 31 yards, a measly 2.2 yards per carry. This forced Stafford to try and carry the team with his arm, but they could not seem to get any luck down field. Marvin Jones Jr. did a good job of attacking the secondary deep and opening things up in the middle, but Tate was covered well throughout the game. Yet, the talented receiver found a way to make an impact, with only 8 receptions for 122 yards. Boldin, Detroit’s 14 year veteran, only touched the ball a few times and never found his way into the end zone. Stafford tried to get a late score in the dying minutes of the game, but he was picked off by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the dangerous DB who filled in beautifully for the injured Janoris Jenkins. Eric Ebron also looked good initially, but failed to hang on to a pass on a crucial third down and was quiet from there on out.

The Giants Played a Great Game

Even without Jason Pierre-Paul on defense and the absence of their best corner for most of the game, the Giants looked like the better team out there. Eli Manning, the two time world champion, played well, throwing for over 200 yards with two TDs. Beckham Jr. is almost impossible for nearly any corner to cover, and it is clear that he is one of the best in the game. New York also ran the ball well against Detroit; their leading rusher Paul Perkins, averaged just over 5 yards per carry. Add in the electric atmosphere of Metlife Stadium, and it appeared to be the perfect conditions for the G-Men. The defense stepped up perfectly and caused a lot of problems for Jim Bob Cooter and the Lions offense. It will be fascinating to see how the Lions bounce back.

Two to go

Now Detroit awaits two tough games against the Dallas Cowboys on the road and the Green Bay Packers at home. The Cowboys proved to be beatable after the Giants toppled them by three last week. Also, the Minnesota Vikings nearly beat them a few weeks ago as well, so there is most definitely a chance for Detroit when facing the high powered team. The most important of the two, however, is the Green Bay match up. The Packers have already beat Detroit this year at Lambeau field, meaning that Detroit must beat them in order to win the division and clinch a playoff spot. The Packers barely crawled away from Chicago earlier in the week, winning the game by a field goal as the last 3 seconds of the game expired. More and more momentum seems to be gathering behind the green and yellow as they progress through their schedule. Aaron Rodgers seems to be back to his old gun-slinging self, so Detroit is going to have to be nothing short of flawless to get a win. The Lions can only hope that Theo Riddick shapes up in time for the game and that Jim Bob Cooter puts a lot of emphasis on finishing in the red zone this week at practice. Sunday’s game could have gone either way, but a flat offensive performance and passive pursuing and tackling by Detroit’s defense gave the Giants too much confidence. The Giants are a strong team and clearly looked like the better side, although Detroit should have performed much better. They are likely to continue their success later on. For the Lions, they’ve now got to get ready for the volatile Dallas Cowboys.

Will They Make it?

People all across the board now will surely be jumping ship after Detroit’s loss to the Giants. They will say that they have finally been debunked by a real team after facing some adversity. The Lions have been coasting recently on 4th quarter comebacks, but they are a strong team and are much better than how they performed on Sunday. We’ve seen the Lions defense shut down the passing game against the Saints, and the offense looked red hot in that game as well. What they’ve been missing all year is a strong rushing attack. Detroit is fortunate enough to have Stafford handling his pocket composure so well this season, because he has excelled in knowing when to pull the trigger, or attack space and tuck it and run. They need more from Riddick and the offensive line, taking pressure off of Stafford and the passing game. The Lions have not played the toughest of teams this year, although the Packers, Titans, and Giants have all been proving themselves as tough teams in the NFL. The bottom line is that Detroit faithful will begin to panic after this loss, saying that their chances are dead and that it’s just going to be another disappointing and heart breaking year. I am confident that there is still a lot of fight in this team that failed to show itself on Sunday, and I hope and pray that it is dragged out against Jerry Jones and his franchise. Otherwise, they will be left treading water against the Packers, a team that knows Detroit all too well. Give these guys a chance, because this year has been everything but normal. A little late twist in the end like we are experiencing now could prove to be a healthy wake up call for this team.