No such thing as a moral victory?
The Detroit Lions held the NFL's leading offense last year to just nine points and contained the league's leading rusher in a 9-6 loss to Seattle on Sunday.
The Lions showed that their defense will be one to be reckoned with, especially their defensive line.
And it's likely just a matter of time before the offense catches up.
But only the result matters with Rod Marinelli, and for how much improved the Lions may have looked in some areas, it obviously wasn't enough.
"Bad start – we're 0-1," Marinelli said after the game.
Mike Martz' vaunted offense sputtered much of the day -- only three drives gained more than 20 yards -- but managed to catch on enough to put the Lions in scoring position several times. A 52-yard field goal attempt by Jason Hanson that came up short proved to be the difference.
The Lions' defense stymied the Seahawks all day, with the defensive line battering Matt Hasselbeck over and over to the point where he was holding his sore chest in the fourth quarter. Shaun Alexander didn't fare much better, gaining just 51 yards on 19 carries and kept him -- and the rest of the teammates -- out of the end zone. The defense did allow a two-minute drill to chew up enough ground to get Josh Brown within 42 yards for the game-winning field goal as time expired, so there is room for improvement.
The run defense was tremendous, and the line generated consistent pressure.
But before you start doing backflips, realize that the linebackers and secondary allowed Hasselbeck to complete 83 percent of his passes.
Eighty-three percent? That is beyond troubling. And on the winning drive, the previously stout rush defense suddenly gave up runs of 14 and 17 yards.
On the Lions' final possession, the offense shot itself in the foot with a Jeff Backus holding call on first down and never recovered.
The positives were definitely there, however.
Fernando Bryant played well in the secondary and Kenoy Kennedy didn't look out of place in the new Tampa 2 defense, and Boss Bailey was adequate after coming back from his injury and will hopefully be utilized more next week at Chicago.
Terrence Holt had seven tackles, while Daniel Bullocks didn't log a single one. And Mike Furrey, much-maligned in Scout.com's Lions message board, showed exactly why the Lions kept him. He led the Lions with 55 receiving yards on five grabs, several of which were very nice catches before taking a big hit.
"The bottom line in this league is victories and when it's 6-6 with a couple of minutes left in the game it's a tough one to go into the locker room down 9-6 at the end," Furrey said. "But you have to give it up to a lot of people that showed up today and played, especially our defense. We'll learn from this. What we saw out there today – there's nothing to be down about. We're a good football team, we just have to execute a little bit more on offense and put things away."
And in the area of receiving, Kevin Jones looked much more comfortable catching the ball, catching five passes for 45 yards, although his blocking still needs to get better.
The D-line was simply dominant for most of the game. Without Steve Hutchinson, the Seattle line was chewed up like a dog toy much of the afternoon and Lions linemen spent almost as much time as Shaun Alexander in the Seahawks backfield.
Maybe Shaun Rogers should take every preseason off, because he was simply a wrecking crew in his first game action of the season. He had two sacks, five tackles and blocked a field goal. James Hall also had two sacks and a blocked field goal.
Even Tyoka Jackson, who looked rusty at best in the preseason, made his presence known. Inserted into the lineup for a drive in the early fourth quarter, he had a sack and stuffed Maurice Morris on a run play.
Meanwhile, the Lions' O-line looked fairly solid, even without Ross Verba suited up. In 37 pass attempts, Jon Kitna -- who threw for 229 yards and completed 57 percent of his throws -- was sacked only three times, and two of those were by blitzing linebackers.
Ernie Sims seemed to be all over on defense and Devale Ellis and Donte' Curry stood out on special teams coverage units, but the return teams failed to generate much. Once a strength of the team, the return game has fallen off badly over the last year.
But so much for balance on offense, as Martz in stalled his pass-heavy playbook. The Lions threw the ball 37 times and ran it only 17 times, including an early reverse to Eddie Drummond.
Jones only ran for 35 yards on 14 carries, but has those numbers skewed a bit by a couple of busted plays that resulted in big losses. He also fumbled.
The Detroit fans were loud, but did give Kitna a minor-league version of the Joey Harrington treatment in the third quarter when a small cascade of boos after five straight scoreless possessions in a tight game.
Now, if only the Lions can continue doing the things they did right and improve on the bad, maybe they can surprise the Bears next Sunday.
The Bears primarily shut down the Packers' offense -- which doesn't seem all that hard anymore -- and displayed some offensive capability as well. A semi-potent offense to go along with its stingy D makes the Bears the hands-down favorite in the NFC North early, especially with Kevin Hester adding another dimension on special teams.
The Lions could contend, but after Sunday's performance against Seattle, they won't sneak up on anybody anymore.