Lions: Better players, similar results

There's little doubt the Lions are improving their roster, but the results have stayed the same – losing on the road in similar fashion as they have for so long.

The Lions are staring 0-4 right in the face; not to mention 23 consecutive road losses.

After the 24-10 loss at Minnesota (13th straight loss at the Metrodome), they will travel to NFC North leading Green Bay on Sunday.

"It's rough but it's never too late," wide receiver Calvin Johnson said. "We've got plenty of time to turn this around. We are 0-3 right now, but we still have 13 left."

It's already reached broken-record stage. In all three losses, the Lions have let early leads evaporate by halftime. They have consistently followed up big plays with boneheaded plays. And, they continue to battle through injuries.

"It's not frustration," defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said. "This team has a lot of fight. We're not going to back down from anybody. We are going to keep battling. We kept battling to the end in this game and that's what's going to help us turn the corner. The only thing we know how to do is go back to work."

The message from coach Jim Schwartz Sunday was the Lions need to develop a killer instinct. They need to learn how to finish games.

"We have the personnel, we have the talent," said defensive end Cliff Avril. "Now it's all about playing smart football and doing what we need to do to start finishing these games."

Some of the Lions' wounds were self-inflicted; others were caused by bad breaks, the kind of bad breaks losing football teams typically make.

"When you turn the ball over in the red zone (which the Lions did twice in the final four minutes), that's self-inflicted," Schwartz said. "When you give up an 80-yard run (which they did to Adrian Peterson), that's self-inflicted. There were others where I thought we made good plays and we had things called back. It wasn't because of a false start or any other bad penalty, it was called back because of aggressiveness and that's going to happen. We have to do a better job of not letting it happen."

There were three penalties against the Lions that turned the tide in the first half.

With the game tied 7-7, the Lions had a 16-yard run by fullback Jerone Felton to the Vikings' 8 nullified by a holding penalty against center Dominic Raiola. Pushed back, kicker Jason Hanson missed a 44-yard field goal.

The Lions thought they got the ball back when Avril sacked Brett Favre and forced a fumble that Vanden Bosch recovered at midfield. The play was nullified because Ndamukong Suh was cited for hitting Favre across the helmet.

Eight plays and a 6-yard touchdown run by Peterson later and the Vikings were up 14-10. That was a 10-point swing.

Then in the third quarter, cornerback Chris Houston had an interception nullified by an illegal contact penalty. The Vikings turned that break into a 31-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell.

"For us to keep blowing these games in the ways we've blown them — don't get me wrong I'm not taking anything away from the Vikings, Eagles or Bears — but we match up equally and there's no reason why we should be losing these games," safety Louis Delmas said.

UNDER THE RADAR: The Lions like their two-tight end formations. Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler combined for 13 catches, 104 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings. However, that was supposed to be a secondary weapon used to get teams off Calvin Johnson. With Nate Burleson out (ankle) and Shaun Hill not possessing the same arm strength as Matthew Stafford, the Lions have had to use the tight ends as a primary weapon, thus defeating the initial purpose.

LINEUP WATCH: The linebacker position continues to be in turmoil. They went into the game Sunday without starting outside linebacker Zack Follett (concussion) and his would-be replacement Landon Johnson (neck). Ashlee Palmer wound up starting in Follett's spot, with DeAndre Levy (groin) returning to the middle and Julian Peterson on the other side. The Lions were left with special teams aces Isaiah Ekejiuba and Spencer Havner as the lone backups. On top of that, Levy went out in the second half, apparently re-aggravating the groin. The Lions may have to bring Caleb Campbell off the practice squad next week.


  • RB Jahvid Best left the game early in the third quarter with a toe injury. He had missed some practice time in Week One with a toe injury, but he said this was a different injury. He had just 26 yards in seven carries before he went out; 16 on one carry.

  • DT Corey Williams got his second career interception, picking off a screen pass from his former teammate Brett Favre. "Brett told me I have the hands of a running back," Williams said.

  • TE Brandon Pettigrew dropped a touchdown pass in Week One in Chicago and dropped two more passes on Sunday. "That's just something I am battling right now," he said. "It's really, I guess, just trying to do too much."

  • SS C.C. Brown had a rough day. First, he blew his coverage on a 24-yard touchdown reception by Percy Harvin and then he was the last man to have a shot at Adrian Peterson on his 80-yard touchdown run and he was stiff-armed out of the way.

  • OG Stephen Peterman (foot) left the game in the third quarter. He had missed two days of practice during the week with the same injury.

  • QB Shaun Hill was 23 for 49 for 237 yards, but he threw two red zone interceptions in the final four minutes.

  • Viking Update Top Stories