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


Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 2 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: D. Axelrod 7
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 3
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 4
Tampa Bay 4 Top 7th Inning
Baltimore 4
Atlanta - WP: M. Minor 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 1
Cleveland 1 Top 6th Inning
Chicago WSox 1
Minnesota 4 Bottom 5th Inning
Kansas City 3
Texas 2 Bottom 5th Inning
Houston 0
Oakland - S. Gray 9:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Wilson
Atlanta 24 FINAL
Jacksonville 14
Detroit 23 4th Qtr 6:49
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 7 4th Qtr 2:00
Cincinnati 35
Kansas City 14 4th Qtr 9:43
Green Bay 34
NY Jets 7 4th Qtr 5:00
Philadelphia 37
St. Louis 13 4th Qtr 3:36
Miami 14
Carolina 10 4th Qtr 13:05
Pittsburgh 0
New England 13 3rd Qtr 1:31
NY Giants 10
Washington 17 4th Qtr 12:21
Tampa Bay 10
Baltimore 16 3rd Qtr 11:24
New Orleans 13
Chicago 13 3rd Qtr 13:53
Cleveland 17
Denver 17 3rd Qtr 11:21
Dallas 3
Minnesota 16 3rd Qtr 9:47
Tennessee 0
San Francisco 14 3rd Qtr 12:41
Houston 6
Arizona 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 9:00 PM
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 4th Qtr 11:10
ULM 10
Boise State 3 3rd Qtr
(18) Ole Miss 7
Tulane 21 3rd Qtr
Tulsa 14
Rutgers 9:00 PM
Washington St
Temple 9:13 PM
Weber State 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Calgary 9/6/14 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 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
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: Who would you rather have on your team?

Weekly Question