(DETROIT) - Detroit's 38-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers showed how truly impressive the New England Patriots 20-game win streak really is.
The Patriots know something that these young Lions have yet to figure out; how to handle success. New England comes to the field ready to play, regardless of their opponent, the elements, their injury situation, or anything else. The Patriots are true professionals.
That is the intangible quality that GMs look for when building a team. One player may have more talent than another, but who's going to show up when the chips are down?
The lack of effort on the part of several players on the Detroit roster was alarming. Worse, yet, Detroit was in the ball game into the third quarter despite not really showing up ready to play.
Veterans Damien Woody, Shaun Rogers and Eddie Drummond took turns try to fire up their respective units. They saw a game that was their for the taking, but try as they might, they couldn't shake the malaise that covered this team. Then trying to force something to happen, quarterback Joey Harrington made a poor decision, and just like that, time ran out.
A little bit of success appeared to cause the Lions to become complacent.
This was a game they could have won. This was a game that they should have won. Detroit could have been looking down from atop the NFC North with a commanding 4-1 record. Instead, they were slapped back to earth, hard, by an aging Green Bay Packers team.
"I was surprised that we were unable to run or throw the football," said Lions head coach Steve Mariucci after the game. Mariucci had maintained that as long as the Packers had Brett Favre and Ahman Green that they would be able to do things offensively, but he felt the Lions would be able to move the football enough to keep the two Packers stars on the sidelines.
"The first half, while it wasn't real exciting, we were still in the game 14-10. Then they kicked the field goal right at the end, just before halftime, but it was still a close game. We made them punt, the first series in the third quarter and then our first possession was the interception for a touchdown and of course, that put us down 24-10. We only had four drives in the second half and only 13 snaps in the second half."
Mariucci also addressed a concern of the fans that the Lions offense is too conservative.
"We're a little bit in the basic and vanilla stage trying to work on our execution and assignments and getting things down with such a new skilled group," explained Mariucci.
"So you start there and you expand as you go. We've been taking good care of the football. Our clock and time control has been enough to win games. As these kids grow up and play together a few a while then you can expand into something more explosive and down the field and that sort of things. We just have to keep from making big mistakes."
So expect the Lions to continue to struggle to score points as they play a brand of conservative, ball control football that isn't normally associated with the west coast offense. While Mariucci teaches these young Lions how to become a winner, one lesson they'll have to learn on their own.
No matter how much or how little talent they line up on the field, they have to bring the necessary effort and desire each week to the football field, you can't just show up. That's what is called being a professional.
That's a lesson that these Lions are still learning. They got a lesson on how to do just that Sunday from an aging, but professional Green Bay Packers team.
Young Lions Must Learn How To Handle Winning
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Scout NFL Network08/24/2016