Thursday's Thanksgiving Day game was already going to be big. The Lions are playing host to Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers, the team they are chasing in the NFC North, in their annual showcase event on national television.
But Sunday's 16-10 loss to the New York Giants made this game even bigger.
The Lions could have taken the inside track in the NFC wild card race. They could have been essentially two games ahead of the Giants, including the head-to-head tiebreaker, and two games ahead of Arizona, Philadelphia and Washington.
But now the Lions (6-4) are essentially two games behind the Giants (7-3), and they're clinging to a one-game lead over the others. The Cardinals, Eagles and Redskins are all 5-5 and have all beaten the Lions.
Quarterback Jon Kitna was upset after throwing two interceptions in the final two minutes against the Giants.
"We let a game get away from us," Kitna said. "In November and December, you cannot let a team come in and beat you at your place that is not better than you. You are trying to make a playoff run.
"This isn't high school football. You are making a playoff run. You let a team come in here and beat you that isn't better than you? It's unacceptable to me."
Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, who sacked Kitna three times, took exception to Kitna's comments.
"Did he really say that?" Strahan said. "I, honestly, in the first half, thought that was probably one of the worst teams we were playing that was 6-3, to be honest with you. So, I mean, I don't quite understand why Jon would say that.
"But you know, bottom line is, we're 7-3. They're 6-4. Am I right? And maybe we'll see them down the road. And if that's the case, we'll beat that ass again."
The Lions struggled on offense and special teams for the second straight game. They were shut out in the first half. They went 1-for-10 on third down. They rushed for 25 yards. The coverage units had trouble tackling and allowed a 68-yard kickoff return, and kicker Jason Hanson had a 52-yard field-goal attempt blocked.
At halftime, the Lions trailed, 10-0. Early in the fourth quarter, they trailed, 16-3. It might have been worse if not for a couple of big plays by the defense in Detroit territory. Safety Kenoy Kennedy forced a fumble in the second quarter. Linebacker Paris Lenon forced one in the third.
"It just comes down to the offense not being consistent and not scoring points," offensive lineman Jeff Backus said. "We're getting into the last third of the season, so we need to come around and be more consistent if we're going to do what we want to do."
Coach Rod Marinelli said he would continue to plow straight ahead and prepare for the Packers, because any other approach would be soft and weak. "We're not going to splinter," Kitna said. "This is a tough-minded team. It's about men being men. It's men being men. That's what we have to be."
Individual Player Notes