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Some numbers behind the Lions' 18-16 loss
In retrospect, it was a game Detroit would often like to have defensively -- no touchdowns allowed, right around 300 yards allowed and keeping the opponent under 20 points.
Most times, if the Lions do that, they would win. Israel Idonije White Jersey
Not Monday night against the Ravens, where the Lions offense was inept other than a touchdown on the first drive of the game and the second-to-last drive against the Ravens, the drive that gave the Lions a lead in the fourth quarter that they would eventually squander in an 18-16 loss to Baltimore.
Now, a look at the numbers to help explain how www.lionsnflofficialonline.com/lions-israel-idonije-jersey-c-38.html that happened (along with some other trends this season). Some of these numbers were culled from ESPN Stats & Information. Follow them on Twitter @ESPNStatsInfo
0 -- Touchdowns allowed by the Detroit defense
1 -- Games the Lions now trail in the NFC North
2 -- Games remaining in the NFC North
2 -- Drops for Calvin Johnson on Monday night.
3 -- Matthew Stafford’s interception total Monday night
3-8 -- Stafford’s record in December the past three seasons and the 27 percent winning percentage is second worst among quarterbacks who have made 10 starts in that span. The only one worse -- Ryan Fitzpatrick.
5 -- Straight games with three or more turnovers for the Lions
5 -- Turnovers forced by the Lions the past seven games.
5.0 -- Stafford's QBR on non-scoring drives on Monday night.
9 -- Drops this season Israel Idonije Jersey Elite for Calvin Johnson, a career-high.
8-11 -- Stafford's completions and attempts on Detroit's two touchdown drives Monday night.
10-23 -- Stafford's completions and attempts on Detroit's non-scoring drives Monday night.
13 -- Targets for Johnson on Monday night
19.4 -- Stafford's passer rating on non-scoring drives Monday night.
23 -- Times the Lions have turned the ball over the past seven games.
61 -- Yards of Justin Tucker’s game-winning field goal.
89. 3 -- Stafford's QBR on the Lions' two touchdown drives.
101 -- Total yards for Reggie Bush on Monday. The Lions are now 6-2 when Bush has 100 or more total yards.
138.8 -- Stafford's passer rating on the Lions' two scoring drives Monday night.
14,164,000 -- Approximate viewers who watched Monday Night Football, according to an ESPN release.
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Cowboys, Lions united in return to self-destructive tendencies
We revel every NFL season in the turnaround team phenomena because we love the surprise factor, the rags-to-riches storyline and watching the meek inherit the www.lionsnflofficialonline.com/lions-larry-warford-jersey-c-39.html earth. But just as fascinating, at least in a train wreck sort of way, are those teams that seemingly turn it around, only to turn back into their self-destructive selves when it matters most.
Which brings us to Dallas and Detroit in what was a devastating Week 15 for the pair of former NFC division leaders. In dramatic fashion, nobody managed to squander more than what the Cowboys and Lions did in a span of about 28 excruciating hours over Sunday and Monday, dropping a pair of climate-controlled home games that left them facing the very real possibility of being left out in the cold when the postseason begins.
The perfectly mediocre Cowboys and Lions (both 7-7) were gifted this season with golden opportunities to run away with weak divisions plagued by quarterback issues. But they have repeatedly declined the generosity of others and now find themselves having exhausted their margin of error entering the final two weeks of the playoff race.
The Cowboys have to win out to win the NFC East, or they're out and facing their fourth consecutive non-playoff season. That despite being 4-0 in the division and having the starting quarterbacks of their three NFC East rivals -- Robert Griffin III, Eli Manning and Michael Vick -- struggle mightily with ineffectiveness or injury in 2013.
BEDARD: Cowboys playing the blame game after latest loss
The Lions have to win out and get some help, with both NFC North-leading Chicago (8-6) and second-place Green Bay (7-6-1) losing at least once. Otherwise, they're done, having wasted a 6-3 start and the perfect storm of QB injuries that hit the Packers, Bears and Vikings this season. Detroit, with a win in Week 17 at Minnesota, can go 5-1 in the NFC North and still finish third in the division. Wrap your heads around that one, Lions fans.
KLEMKO: Megatron shows he's human in Lions' loss to Ravens
If Dallas and Detroit can't win with the hands they were dealt in their divisions this year, what will it take for them to return to the playoffs, short of the NFL going to a 16-team postseason field?
Just two weeks ago, the world looked considerably different for Dallas and Detroit. Despite the challenges they incurred in the first three months of the regular season, both clubs were 7-5, in first place in their divisions and holding down the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds in the potential NFC playoff field. The Cowboys and Lions were coming off big Thanksgiving Day wins at home, with the benefit of those mini-byes of 10 days between games as the season's final month dawned.
Their roads to the playoffs looked fairly well-paved and inviting. Detroit was gunning for its first division title in 20 years. Dallas was in line to rule the NFC East for the first time since 2009 after watching its division rivals in Philadelphia, New York and Washington claim the past three crowns. It seemed like the Cowboys' turn.
You know the rest. December hit and the Cowboys and Lions have gone down in spectacular flames. Dallas got destroyed in the cold of Chicago two Monday nights ago and then lost at home Sunday to Green Bay in mind-boggling fashion, blowing a 23-point halftime lead against the Matt Flynn-led Packers. It tied for the biggest comeback in Green Bay history and was the second-largest choke job in Dallas' 54-year franchise existence.
BANKS: Packers find new Kids Larry Warford Jersey life amid a Cowboys collapse for the ages
The Lions had their problems in the cold as well in Week 14, losing in a snowstorm at Philadelphia, after leading 14-0 in the third quarter. The Eagles went crazy in the fourth quarter, scoring 28 points and finishing with 299 rushing yards. And then came Monday night, when Detroit held visiting Baltimore to a franchise-record six field goals and still managed to fall 18-16 as Ravens kicker Justin Tucker drove a nail through Motown's heart with a game-winning 61-yard blast with 38 seconds remaining. Baltimore was just the second team this season to win a game without scoring a touchdown, matching the Giants' 15-7 win at Philadelphia in Week 8.
BURKE: Ravens' Tucker delivers latest 'kick to the stomach' for long-suffering Lions
At the moment, Detroit sits far out of the money as the No. 9 seed in the NFC field, and Dallas is 10th, two teams joined by their aversion to success, near-fatal lack of discipline and inability to avoid self-inflicted wounds. When the Cowboys desperately needed him to step up, quarterback Tony Romo instead threw two critical interceptions in Larry Warford Jersey White forehead-slapping form in the game's final three minutes, sealing what could be the season-crushing loss to Green Bay. When the Lions were on the ropes against Baltimore, quarterback Matthew Stafford produced one of his worst games of the year, tossing three interceptions, including the game-clincher to that chatty Ravens rookie safety, Matt Elam, with 38 seconds left. It was Detroit's fifth consecutive game with at least three turnovers.
Romo and Stafford, thanks to their critical miscues, were on center stage for all the wrong reasons in Week 15, but the symmetry with the Cowboys' and Lions' four December losses and the matching desperation of their 7-7 records goes further. Both Dallas head coach Jason Garrett and his Detroit counterpart, Jim Schwartz, would seem to be in the exact same position as the season's final two weeks loom: Make the playoffs and their jobs are safe; miss them, and all bets are off, with the likelihood being that change is coming to both Dallas and Detroit.
The embattled duo of Garrett and Schwartz have certainly done each other no favors. Dallas lost to the Bears and Packers in the past two weeks, hurting Detroit, while the Lions returned the gesture to some degree, blowing that game against the Eagles -- the only team that can beat out the Cowboys in the NFC East -- and rallying from a pair of 10-point fourth-quarter deficits to stun visiting Dallas 31-30 in Week 8.
But realistically, Dallas and Detroit have no one to blame but themselves. They have taken what should have been slam-dunk playoff berths and turned them into entirely iffy propositions this month, thanks to their penchant and reputations for sloppy play, costly turnovers, questionable coaching and the inability to put games away in the fourth quarter. You hear plenty about the abundant talent level of the Cowboys and Lions rosters, but tenacity and disciplined play are consistently in glaringly short supply in Dallas and Detroit.
It's difficult to see the well-ingrained pattern of mismanagement and squandered opportunities changing for the Cowboys or Lions, even if one of them does happen to squeak into the NFC playoffs as a 9-7 division champ. As the past two weeks have served to remind us, Dallas and Detroit are consistently their own worst enemies. They don't just lose. They create masterpiece works of defeat.
There are some pretty good turnaround team stories in the NFL this season, and then there are teams that we're watching turn back into the worst version of themselves at the worst possible time. Once again, to the disbelief, disgust and disillusionment of their fans, Dallas and Detroit are finishing the season a familiar 1-2 on that particular front.
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Rapid Reaction: Green Bay Packers
DETROIT -- A few thoughts on the Green Bay Packers’ 40-10 loss to the Detroit Lions on Thursday at Ford Field:
What it means: The Packers’ playoff chances are not officially dead, but they might as well be. At 5-6-1, they fell 1½ games behind the NFC North-leading Lions (7-5) with four games remaining. The Chicago Bears (6-5) Barry Sanders Jersey Pink Jersey also stand between the Packers and the top of the division. The Packers fell under the .500 mark for the first time since they were 1-2 after Week 3.
Stock watch: Matt Flynn was not the answer at quarterback. Four days after he helped rally the Packers from a 16-point, fourth-quarter deficit in a 26-26 tie with the Minnesota Vikings in relief of Scott Tolzien, Flynn was as bad as or worse than Tolzien was against the Vikings. Flynn completed just 10 of 20 passes for 139 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception. The offense accounted for just three points. Flynn didn’t get much help from his offensive line. Left tackle David Bakhtiari struggled with rookie defensive end Ziggy Ansah most of the day. Flynn was sacked seven times. However, he did not help himself by holding the ball too long. Going into the Packers’ final series, the Lions had 563 yards to the Packers’ 56. Green Bay got Youth Barry Sanders Jersey Jersey 70 yards on its final drive, which ended with a fumbled snap.
Defensive woes: What does it say about a defense that created four turnovers but still got beat up and down the field? The Packers picked off Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford twice and recovered two fumbles -- one of which safety Morgan Burnett returned for a 1-yard touchdown. The Packers gave up 340 yards of offense in the first half alone and 561 for the game. Their run defense struggled again, allowing 148 yards rushing in the first half and 241 for the game, The Packers came into the game allowing an average of 159.2 yards rushing in their last five games after giving up only 79.0 yards rushing per game in the first six games of the season.
Injury problems: The Packers played more than half the game without starting www.lionsnflofficialonline.com/lions-barry-sanders-jersey-c-1.html center Evan Dietrich-Smith, who left late in the second quarter with a knee injury. They also lost backup tight end Ryan Taylor to a possible concussion in the second half.
What’s next: The Packers have a mini bye with the weekend off. They return to action Dec. 8 against the Atlanta Falcons in a game that was originally scheduled for prime time but was moved to a 1 p.m. kickoff.
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Levy having strong season for Lions
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The beard started, DeAndre Levy said, around a year ago for no particular reason.
[+] EnlargeDeAndre Levy
AP Photo/rick OsentoskiLions linebacker DeAndre Levy's game has grown with his beard.
And it is just purely a coincidence that Levy is having the best season of his career with his bushy facial hair. There is not a Samson complex www.lionsnflofficialonline.com/lions-calvin-johnson-jersey-c-3.html going on here, just a linebacker for the Detroit Lions playing with consistency and confidence in his fifth season in the league.
It is something, like the beard, that started last season. But Levy said injuries limited his opportunities then -- something that has not happened this season.
"There's been ups and downs. I think the big thing for me is being consistent," Levy said. "Opportunities last year were a little bit, the hamstring kind of slowed me a little bit. So I kind of feel like I came together a little bit last year but having more opportunities this year, been healthy."
They have come in bunches for the Wisconsin native. Levy is on pace for his best statistical season, having 95 tackles through the first 12 games. And the numbers have been consistent. He has had no fewer than five tackles in any game and hit double digits twice.
But his importance and improvement goes beyond the tackle numbers, which should be in triple digits for a linebacker who plays almost every snap. It has come in his ability to read plays. He has done an exceptional job this season snuffing out opposing screens and has been good against the run for the most part.
His biggest leap might have come in pass coverage. He has six interceptions this season -- one more than he had the previous four years of his career combined -- and four pass breakups.
Those six interceptions lead the NFL -- not just among linebackers, but among all defensive players.
"He's been the same player," linebacker Stephen Tulloch said. "I just think as a player you grow every year and that's part of his growth. Right now, he's turned that corner in becoming consistent and coming into a guy that makes plays when they are coming his way and takes Calvin Johnson Womens Jersey advantage of his opportunity."
This was something he and Tulloch, who is also having a good season as Detroit's middle linebacker, have discussed before. Not just knowing where they need to be on plays and being in position, but being able to adjust in the midst of a play to actually make the play.
Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said part of it is the way Levy now reads offenses and what he is recognizing as opposed to earlier in his career.
"He understands the game better, there's no question about that," Cunningham said earlier this season. "You could see it at OTAs and other times throughout the year that he was on point and it's paying off."
It's paying off for everyone involved. Levy is having the best season of his career. The Lions have a stalwart at linebacker now who gives both the defensive line and secondary added comfort that either a guy in front of them or behind them could make the play, depending on the scenario.
And then there's this: Calvin Johnson Mens Jersey The way Levy is playing, it would be surprising if he didn't get a trip to Hawaii, meaning the Pro Bowl, after the season.
"That'd be cool. It'd be nice," Levy said. "I mean, it's kind of hard to think about right now because it's a big stretch for us as a team right now.
"That's kind of priority number one."
Part of the way Levy has played this season has been more free. He is more instinctual. He has let himself be more open, more free flowing.
Kind of like that ever-growing beard he said he doesn't maintain. He has trimmed the thing only a couple of times, and mostly that was so it could grow even longer once split ends stopped natural hair growth.
Levy appears to have pride in the beard, too. When he talked about it last month, one in which men often grow out their mustaches in support of fighting prostate cancer, Levy dismissed the thought of Movember for himself.
"There's no such thing as Movember," he said. "It's no shave ever."
Whatever has been working for Levy, all the Lions want is for it to continue.
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QOTW: Pregame or night before meal
Previous QOTW: Favorite holiday; Historical figure; Free year's supply of; Why you wear your number; Best Halloween costume; TV character; Super hero alter ego; Cake...or Steak?; Entrance music; Nicknamed jerseys.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Food is often a popular topic among players. Meals are important, from what they put into their bodies throughout the week to having foods named after them at local restaurants.
And when they go on the road, what do they eat?
We spoke with some Detroit Lions players about what their pregame or night before the game meal was for this edition of Question of the Week.
C Dominic Raiola: Night before, burger. I call those free calories because we burn them off anyway. Pregame, chicken breast, an egg white omelet, that’s about it.
Reporter: Always done that?
Raiola: I used to eat steaks before games. Filets. But I started eating chicken breast. I don’t know. I think I did it one week and we kept winning. I’m superstitious like that.
WR Nate Burleson: I eat pretty much the Matthew Stafford Jersey same thing. It’s usually just a light breakfast. We’ll go with some eggs and bacon. Little bit of potatoes to hold me down. But really, I like being hungry at halftime.
Burleson: When I’m full, I don’t feel like I’m fast. So that way I always eat a big meal after the game. Starving.
RB Theo Riddick: I don’t really have one. Night before I probably won’t eat that much and the day of, I won’t even eat. It all depends.
Riddick: Just something I’ve always did since I was a kid. Just, I don’t know. It’s weird.
Reporter: You’d think Matthew Stafford Jersey Game you want energy.
Riddick: Yeah, I mean, it doesn’t affect me in any sense. I’m not really a morning person, don’t really eat breakfast.
S Glover Quin: Nah, I don’t do anything specific. I just eat. Not a real big eater before games. I don’t really eat that much.
RB Reggie Bush: I really don’t have one. Maybe steak and mashed potatoes. Night before.
Reporter: Same thing every time?
Bush: Usually varies. Depends on the hotel and how good the food is. Sometimes, they have bad food.
WR Kris Durham: Night before, always go with the spaghetti and like grilled chicken and some vegetables, whether it is broccoli or whatever.
Reporter: Always done that?
Durham: Yeah, in a similar way. It’s kind of the go-to for every football team. Kind of always the same general stuff.
LB Stephen Tulloch: Pasta. Always been.
Reporter: Anything specific?
Tulloch: Nah, man. Just eat pasta and meat sauce, brother.
Reporter: Start that in college?
Tulloch: High school man. Pre-game meal. Stuck with it all the way www.lionsnflofficialonline.com/lions-matthew-stafford-jersey-c-4.html through. Be consistent.
LG Rob Sims: Usually a nice cheeseburger. We eat pasta away usually. Before it’s usually pancakes or waffles, something like that.
Returner Micheal Spurlock: I don’t have specific. Pretty much every meal across the board is going to be pasta, some type of steak or chicken. Pregame meal, our games are early so I have an omelet, a little spaghetti and broccoli and that’s about it.
Reporter: Omelet and spaghetti? How does your stomach feel after that?
Spurlock: My stomach is fine. Yeah. You have the omelet for breakfast and you need the carbs so you go from there. I don’t think it’s nothing specific you have. Just keep routine and go from there.
P Sam Martin: Night before it’s different, whatever they have. In the morning I’ll have steak and eggs there. They have that option, so I do two fried eggs and a steak. It’s a tiny steak. Maybe like a 6 ounce steak. I normally don’t even eat it all. I don’t have much of an appetite in the mornings. I’ll always get that plate. Sometimes I won’t eat any of it. I will eat some fruit, though.
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