Lions wasting chances to take command of NFC North

The Canadian Press
12/9/2013 5:55:38 PM
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. - The Detroit Lions slipped and slid plenty in the snow at Philadelphia. Maybe it was fitting.

The slumping Lions (7-6) have lost three of four games, blowing fourth-quarter leads each time, wasting chance after chance to take command of the NFC North.

"We'll just take this slap in the face and hope it wakes us up," cornerback Chris Houston said after Sunday's 34-20 loss to the Eagles. "We have two straight home games and we have to go get them. We can't get down on ourselves. We are still in a good position in our division. I think we like when our backs are against the wall."

Detroit hosts the defending champion Baltimore Ravens next Monday night and then the New York Giants before closing the regular season at Minnesota.

The Lions will remain in first place in the division headed into the weekend, but they have left little room for error over their next three games, all of which will be played indoors.

"Anytime it's in your hands like that, you feel good about your opportunities," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said Monday. "I know this, the next three games we are not going to have to worry about eight inches of snow on the ground. We are not going to have to worry about 50 mph winds or anything else, but potentially in the future we still do."

That would be the playoffs — if Detroit can figure out how to tilt the turnover ratio back to its favour.

Detroit had a total of eight turnovers in losses against Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh, while failing to force one turnover in either game. The Lions then fumbled seven times and lost three to Philadelphia, which turned it over only once in the same conditions.

"I'd say the first half was probably more difficult than the second," quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "It was a little icier in the second, but it's no excuse. We had opportunities to make plays and we didn't make them."

The Lions went ahead 20-14 early in the fourth quarter against the Eagles after Jeremy Ross' 98-yard kick return — his second score on special teams Sunday — before letting LeSean McCoy score a go-ahead touchdown on a 57-yard run and getting shut down on offence.

After the game, some Lions said they were soft on defence.

The next day, Schwartz disagreed with that assessment.

"We missed a lot of tackles in that game and LeSean McCoy did a good job with the conditions and we didn't," Schwartz said. "I wouldn't put it on anything else. Players can characterize it any way they want, but when you say that word it becomes sort of an inflammatory word."

Detroit took leads into the fourth quarter against the Buccaneers and Steelers before being held scoreless in the final quarters of both losses.

Schwartz insisted the team is focused on looking ahead to the opportunity of winning the division title — for the first time since 1993 — and can't afford to look back.

"You can't really worry about what's happened in the past," Schwartz said. "You have to keep your eyes focused on the future. It starts Monday night with the Ravens."

NOTES: Schwartz said rookie CB Darius Slay had knee surgery last Friday and the team didn't put him on injured reserve, holding out hope he can return. ... Schwartz said RB Reggie Bush (calf), rookie DE Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah (shoulder) and rookie OT LaAdrian Waddle (elbow) don't have long-term injuries.



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Matthew Stafford (Photo: Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty Images)


(Photo: Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty Images)
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