Cook: State of Disarray

While the Detroit Tigers riled up the entire state, the Lions were in their usual state of disarray. Columnist James Cook shares his take on Sunday's loss to Minnesota, including the following note on safety Jon McGraw: His lackluster effort trying to tackle Chester Taylor during his 28-yard run was pathetic. Hit him with your purse, Jon.

The Detroit Lions couldn't capture any of the weekend's Motown sports magic.

While the Detroit Tigers riled up the entire state, the Detroit Lions were in their usual state of disarray.

At least one team in the state eliminated the typical usage of the word "hapless" prior to their mascot.

The Tigers knocked off the best team in baseball on three straight days, while the 0-5 Lions seemingly looked for ways to lose to a .500 team, letting a 17-3 lead slip away chunk by chunk.

Looking in control after going up 17-3 with 5:11 to go in the third quarter, Detroit fumbled, missed blocks and committed penalties to allow the Minnesota Vikings to stage a 23-point fourth quarter in front of their home crowd.

Lions coaches and players keep saying that the team is "close."

But after Sunday, they were merely that much closer to an 0-16 season.

And for the third week in a row, the Lions snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, managing to bollix a game they could have won.

Mike Williams saw the field a little, but not too much, even after Roy Williams suffered a stinger on the Lions first drive and didn't come back into the game. Instead, Az Hakim stepped up and had eight catches, developing a good report with Jon Kitna in one of the few bright spots for the Lions.

Many will bash Kitna for the loss, especially in light of the late interception that ended up going the other way for a game-clinching TD by E.J. Henderson. In that situation, a sack is just as bad as an interception. Given time, Kitna was effective and a leader. This loss isn't on him. It's too easy to pin it on just one person. This was a collective botching.

The bleakness included:

-- Giving up 123 rushing yards to Chester Taylor, the first time this season the Lions defense has allowed anyone to rush for more than 81 yards this season.

-- Brad Johnson only threw for 201 yards, but completed 76.5 percent of his passes, a number that simply won't get it done.

-- Daniel Bullocks struggled at times. The rookie safety, playing in place of Kenoy Kennedy, was run over once, was stiff-armed like a tackling dummy and dropped what should have been an easy interception. He did have eight tackles (six solo).

-- Injuries. They are starting to mount up. Roy Williams (stinger) only saw a couple plays early, Shaun Cody (foot) left the DT rotation short, Fernando Bryant missed a few plays, Damien Woody didn't play after the first drive, Shaun Rogers dinged up his previously-injured shoulder but continued to play, and Paris Lenon suffered an apparent head injury late in the game. If this continues, Lions' fans will starting hearing the dreaded term "street free agent."

-- Shaun Bodiford struggled at getting open, and only Hakim and Furrey seemed to get open on a regular basis.

-- Kevin Jones regressed running the ball. Even more sad that KJ‘s 10-carry, 8-yard performance was the fact that his rushing total was matched by Kitna (who had exactly one carry).

-- The Lions offensive linemen need to start using more techniques to keep the defensive line's arms down. Too many passes are being tipped at the line, one of which was at least partially to blame for the Vikings' first interception.

-- The defensive line was once again mainly manhandled, and didn't put much pressure on the quarterback.

-- Jon McGraw. His lackluster effort trying to tackle Chester Taylor during his 28-yard run was pathetic. Hit him with your purse, Jon.

-- The Lions scored 14 points off turnovers. That sounds like a positive, but not really when you realize that's the first time the Lions have done that all season.

The much shorter list of positives:

-- Boss Bailey looked solid at middle linebacker. He led the team with 11 tackles (10 solo) and didn't seem to get lost in traffic as much as he has in the past. He had a big stop on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line, drilling Chester Taylor at the line of scrimmage to force a field goal.

-- Ernie Sims also was a factor. He was second behind Bailey with nine tackles (eight solo) and forced a fumble by Mewelde Moore on a punt return. He also had a great open-field tackle on Moore to force a punt.

-- Fernando Bryant came to play again. He had a blistering hit on Travis Taylor to break up a pass. Then he got hurt again, but what else should we expect?

-- The running play with Kitna on the goal line was genius.

-- Detroit had only 50 yards in penalties, much better than in prior weeks.

Despite all of the negatives, the Lions were right in this game.

That, as much as anything, is frustrating Lions fans to no end. Losing close, winnable games on a consistent basis (and you can't get much more consistent in that regard than 0-5) is getting on the last nerve of Honolulu Blue fans.

The Lions are continually looking like the Tigers against the Royals the last week of the season. Whereas the Tigers have been able to move past that, the Lions are stuck in game-blowing mode.

With winnable games coming up against Buffalo and the New York Jets in the next two weeks, the trend has a great chance to continue


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