Red-faced Lions looking to get on right track

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 29, 2012 - 10:28 AM

Coming off a humiliating loss to the Titans and giving up some big plays, Detroit will be very motivated when the Vikings come to town.

Where the Detroit Lions sit is primarily of their own (un)doing. What the replacement refs did to them last week in Tennessee was just adding insult to (self-inflicted) injury.

But that 44-41 overtime loss to the Titans -- one with just about every crazy play you can imagine -- has the Lions at 1-2, during a travel-heavy portion of their schedule, facing the closest thing to a must-win game that September can offer when they play host to the Vikings on Sunday.

"We're 1-2," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said this week on a conference call with Twin Cities media. "That's about the only way to assess anything in this league."

In a strange start to the season, the Vikings and Chicago Bears are tied for the NFC North lead at 2-1. The Lions and the Green Bay Packers -- both playoff teams last year -- are 1-2.

The Packers can point to Monday night's replacement referee fiasco to blame for their sub-.500 start. And while the Lions were on the wrong end of a messed-up ball placement in overtime Sunday, their real problems can be blamed on their own mistakes.

Against the Titans, the Lions became the first team in NFL history to allow five scoring plays of 60 or more yards in the same game. They were, in order: a 65-yard punt return on a trick play, a 61-yard pass, a 105-yard kickoff return, a 71-yard pass and a 72-yard fumble return.

"That was definitely an unusual game," Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. "I don't know how much it will affect us -- or affect us at all -- going into this week."

The Lions were down 14 in the final minute but rallied for two scores behind backup quarterback Shaun Hill to force overtime.

In the overtime, a bad spot on a penalty helped fuel a Titans drive for a field goal. But, down three, the Lions had a fourth-and-1 at the Tennessee 7-yard line. The plan was to try to draw the Titans offsides with a hard count. But center Dominic Raiola misheard the call and hiked the ball to Hill, who was tackled for a loss to end the game.

That would seem a lot to bounce back from. And that only makes the matchup -- the first division game for both teams -- more interesting. The Vikings, surprise winners over San Francisco last week, are looking to break an 11-game divisional losing streak. The Lions, who won't play at home again until Oct. 28, can't afford to fall further behind the division leaders.

Schwartz said the lessons of the 2011 season -- when the Lions went 10-6 despite a midseason slump that saw them lose five of seven games -- will help the team now.

"We started off 5-0, we lost a couple in a row, we had to battle our way to the end," Schwartz said. "So we understand what this league is about. There are win streaks, there are loss streaks, there is everything else. The thing you need to concentrate on is improving, putting mistakes behind you.'

The Lions offense is high-powered, second-rated overall, No. 1 in passing yardage. And starting quarterback Matthew Stafford figures to be back after sitting out the end of last week's game with a hip injury.

But more consistency is needed on defense. The normally stout Lions defensive line allowed Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker to drop back 42 times without a sack. Big plays were allowed. Lions special teams rank near the bottom of the league on punt and kickoff coverage.

"The biggest thing is, you want to make sure you're undefeated at home," Suh said. The Lions beat the St. Louis Rams at home on opening day. "If you can solidify eight home games, then go from there and be competitive and get some wins on the road, that's a great way to look at the season."

Which again makes Sunday's game so important. The Lions have a bye, then play at Philadelphia and at Chicago before coming home to play Seattle. Then they have two more road games before finishing the season with five of their final seven games at home.

"Division games always have added importance," Schwartz said. "The NFC North is going to be a tough division, we knew that going into the season."

  • related content

  • Choice of designer opens window on Vikings stadium

    Sunday September 30, 2012

    Dallas firm behind new homes for Cowboys, Colts will design Vikings stadium. HKS plans to solicit public input in coming weeks.

  • Vikings play up Simpson return

    Friday September 28, 2012

    Our snapshot look at the Vikings as they prepare for Sunday's game against the Lions in Detroit.

  • Detroit Lions quarterback Shaun Hill (14) scrambles for 8 yards and a...

  • VIKINGS WEEK 4 • Up next: Noon Sunday at Detroit • TV: Ch. 9 (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 FINAL
Cleveland 107
New Orleans 88 FINAL
Washington 84
Milwaukee 120 FINAL
New York 107
Philadelphia 88 FINAL
Brooklyn 99
Charlotte 114 FINAL
Atlanta 117
Sacramento 99 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Memphis 103 FINAL
Dallas 108
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon




question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question