The Lions go into the bye week with a 1-5 record. They finished their 28-20 loss at the New York Giants Sunday with their third string quarterback (Drew Stanton) and their fourth-string middle linebacker (recently signed Vinny Ciurciu).
Yet, they had the ball with a chance to tie on their final possession.
This is the ying and yang of these Lions. They are as bad as their 1-5 record indicates. Yet, they were in position to win or tie in the final possession in four of the five losses.
They are every bit as bad as their NFL-record-tying 24 straight road losses would indicate. Yet, five of their next seven games after the bye are at Ford Field.
The point is, the Lions are down, but they don't feel they are out. Which, on some strange level, is major progress.
"We aren't happy with hearing, 'Oh, they're better than last year,' or 'They're a good team; we didn't expect them to play this well,'" said WR Nate Burleson. "We've heard that too many times. We walk into any stadium, home or away, to win games, and the fact that we aren't winning games is completely on our shoulders."
The Lions killed themselves Sunday with four critical penalties, two stalled drives and two prolonged Giants drives. They killed themselves with three second-half turnovers.
"We gave them everything," said safety and former Giant C.C. Brown, who was booed throughout the game. "People can say what they want to say, but we gave it to them. We did not play smart, and at times, we didn't play hard. We did it to ourselves again. At some point we've got to stand up and realize that we can't keep doing this."
The Lions feel better days are coming, and here's why.
First, franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford, out with a shoulder injury since Week 1, is expected to start Oct. 31 against the Redskins. Shaun Hill, who fractured a bone in his left forearm Sunday, is expected to be ready to back him up in two weeks.
Starting middle linebacker DeAndre Levy (ankle), who has only played one game this season, is also due back Oct. 31.
"Matt is inheriting a battle-tested team, that's for sure," Hill said. "This team has played an extremely tough schedule with a lot of games on the road. We are going to get a chance to heal up now and play a lot of games at home. I know Matt is ready. He's chomping at the bit."
DE Kyle Vanden Bosch called the team together after the game Sunday and handed out a homework assignment for the upcoming bye week.
"He just told us that everybody needed to evaluate themselves, see the mistakes they are making and correct them," Burleson said. "Just take the week to evaluate yourself and figure out what it is you can do better."
- You wonder how much longer CB Jonathan Wade will be around. He lost his starting job to Alphonso Smith and now might lose his role in the nickel and dime packages. Teams are isolating him every chance they get. He was beaten for a 33-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Mario Manningham. He was also beat for a touchdown by Hakeem Nicks, but Manning overthrew him.
- OLB Zack Follett was strapped to a backboard, carted off the field and taken to Hackensack Medical Center after talking a helmet-to-helmet hit from Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul on a kickoff in the second half. The post-game report was that there was no evidence of a fracture to the cervical spine, and he had movement in all four extremities.
- WR Calvin Johnson, playing despite an injured AC joint in his right shoulder, caught five passes for 146 yards, including an 87-yard touchdown. "Big pain," he said. "This week (bye week) is coming at a good time."
- DT Ndamukong Suh incurred another penalty for knocking a quarterback in the face with his hands. The penalty occurred on a second-and-long incompletion that kept what ended up being a 97-yard scoring drive alive. He did have 1.5 sacks.
- MLB Ashlee Palmer, making his first start at middle linebacker, had 13 tackles on Sunday. That's one more than the man he replaced, Landon Johnson, has had all season.
- K Jason Hanson kicked two 50-yard field goals. He has made nine straight. His 45 field goals of 50 or more yards is an NFL record.