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

ADVERTISEMENT

St. Louis - WP: L. Lynn 4 FINAL
Washington - LP: J. Zimmermann 3
Toronto - WP: M. Buehrle 5 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 0
LA Angels - LP: C. Wilson 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 5
Baltimore - LP: B. Norris 2 FINAL
Boston - WP: J. Tazawa 4
Minnesota - LP: K. Correia 4 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: B. Chen 5
Cincinnati - LP: T. Cingrani 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: E. Jackson 8
Houston - LP: C. Qualls 3 FINAL
Oakland - WP: D. Otero 4
Milwaukee - WP: J. Henderson 8 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Grilli 7
Atlanta - WP: E. Santana 7 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: B. Colon 5
NY Yankees - LP: I. Nova 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: C. Archer 16
Seattle - LP: R. Elias 0 FINAL
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 7
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Quintana 3 FINAL
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 6
Philadelphia - LP: K. Kendrick 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. Lyles 3
Arizona - LP: M. Bolsinger 6 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: D. Haren 8
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: E. Stults 3
Brooklyn 94 FINAL
Toronto 87
Golden State 109 FINAL
LA Clippers 105
Atlanta 101 FINAL
Indiana 93
Memphis 86 FINAL
Oklahoma City 100
Chicago 3 FINAL(OT)
St. Louis 4
Columbus 4 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 3
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Colorado 4
Houston 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
New England 1 FINAL
Chicago 1
San Jose 0 FINAL
Colorado 0
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Vancouver FC 2
D.C. 1 FINAL
Columbus 1
Toronto FC 1 FINAL
FC Dallas 2
Montreal 0 FINAL
Sporting Kansas City 4
Portland 0 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 1
Seattle 2 FINAL
Chivas USA 1
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which quarterback is best in the NFL draft?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close