Notebook: Lions swallow hard, look forward

Team not pleased with "out of formula" effort in Chicago. More news, notes and quotes following Detroit's drubbing at the hands of Chicago.

Suddenly, a game that looked like a gimme a few weeks ago will require a lot more urgency.

The Lions, after missing a chance to sweep the season series from NFC North rival Chicago Sunday and take firm control of the wild-card race, will have to snap a two-game home losing streak this Sunday against Cam Newton and Carolina.

"If you play this game long enough, you are going to be on the opposite end of some big games," said wide receiver Nate Burleson after the 37-13 drubbing in Chicago. "We went to Denver, blew them out, came in the locker room and acted like nothing happened.

"We came to Chicago, got blown out and now we have to act like nothing happened. We are 6-3. It's not like we are fighting to get to .500. We need to understand that. We are still in good position."

But they wasted a chance to be in great position. Instead of being 7-2 and in complete control of their wild-card destiny, they have let the Bears into the chase, both at 6-3.

"We have to own up to this game," coach Jim Schwartz said. "It wasn't like that didn't happen. We put it out there and we need to make sure it doesn't happen again. How we bounce back from this game, in the long run, will be more important than what happened today."

What happened Sunday was, as Schwartz called it, "out of formula" for the Lions. They came in with the best turnover ratio in the NFL and made six turnovers. They had fumbled once in eight games and fumbled in each of their first two possessions - leading to 10 points.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford had thrown four interceptions through eight games and threw four on Sunday - two of them were returned for touchdowns.

Part of the problem was an unpredictable wind that gusted at times as much as 35 mph. But a bigger worry for the Lions going forward is the fractured index finger on Stafford's throwing hand.

He injured the finger against Denver, though the extent of it wasn't revealed until Sunday. He wore a glove on his hand for the first time in his career.

"I was fine with the glove," said Stafford, who was 33 for 63 for 329 yards. "The finger wasn't much of a problem. It was mostly the wind. We put ourselves in a tough spot and the wind was blowing the ball around. They had a tough time throwing it and we had a tough time throwing it."

After playing the Panthers, they will host the Packers on Thanksgiving Day - three games in 12 days.

"We just have to move on to Carolina and get the ball rolling again," center Dominic Raiola said.

Notebook:

  • Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is going to test his newly-strengthened relationship with commissioner Roger Goodell. The league's operations staff will be looking at some new footage of Suh's ferocity, trying to decide if he again crossed the line. Late in the second quarter, Suh chased down Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. He caught him from behind after a 10-yard gain and in the process of taking him down, ripped the helmet off his head. It was a clean hit and it didn't draw a penalty. But, as usual, Suh completed the process with a flair, flinging the helmet toward the sideline. "Crossed the line?" Bears coach Lovie Smith said, repeating the question. "I think it's safe to say you shouldn't do that. I'll leave it at that." Suh, who met with Goodell during the bye week to get a better understanding of what he can and cannot do on the field, wasn't available for comment afterward.
  • Newly-signed punter Robert Malone couldn't have picked a tougher environment to make his Lions' debut. Not only did have to kick into a swirling wind that was gusting up to 35 mph at Soldier Field, but he also had to kick it to arguably the best return man in the history of the game - Devin Hester. Malone, the former Buccaneer, was signed Friday to fill in for Ryan Donahue (quad). He kicked the ball surprisingly well - five punts, 49-yard average - but it was too good, as it turned out. He outkicked the coverage on a couple - including one that Hester ran back 82 yards for a touchdown. "We tried to sideline the ball," coach Jim Schwartz said. "But, have you ever played golf? You try to hit the fairway and it goes in the woods. It doesn't always go where you want. But that being said, our coverage wasn't very good." Malone's net was only 24.6. Donahue is expected to be back next week.

  • RB Kevin Smith, signed on Monday, had 19 yards in four carries and caught two passes for 10 yards.
  • WR Nate Burleson had his best day of the season, catching eight passes for 83 yards. He also carried once for 10 yards. The only blemish was his fumble, after a 20-yard catch.
  • QB Matthew Stafford misfired on his first 14 passes in the red zone. Two were picked off. With the wind and his finger, he was unable to throw the fade passes to Calvin Johnson, one of the team's red-zone staples. He overthrew Johnson three times in the end zone.
  • PK Jason Hanson, who missed some practice time with stitches in his plant leg, kicked field goals of 29 and 35 yards.
  • TE Tony Scheffler had three catches for 37 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown. But he dropped another one in the end zone.

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