Niyo: Lions at a loss, and coaching is to blame

Monday, 04 December 2017, 10:43:30 AM. There aren’t many ways around it now: The Lions’ postseason hopes are officially numbered.

Baltimore — Go ahead and do the math if you want. But no matter how you add it up, the Lions still figure to come up short.

They proved that again Sunday, spotting another opponent a big lead before trying to make things interesting, only to make things worse for themselves in a 44-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M & T Bank Stadium.

There aren’t many ways around it now: The Lions’ playoff hopes are officially numbered. But before you bother to calculate the odds, you might want to check the film of this one. Because they effectively counted themselves out, saving us all the trouble.

One play can’t sum it all up. Not the missed tackles and the missed kicks and the bungled play-calling that all led to Matthew Stafford throwing in the towel, literally if not figuratively.

But one play might as well have Sunday as the Lions gave up 37 points to the league’s heretofore 31st-ranked offense, and then added insult to injury when Matthew Stafford’s late interception ended with him heading for X-rays on his bruised and bloodied right hand.

 

It was a play early in the fourth quarter, after the Lions, who’d trailed 20-0 at the half, closed to within a touchdown and had the Ravens facing third-and-7 at the Detroit 33. They’d just missed a sack-fumble on the previous play, as Anthony Zettel hit Joe Flacco — a rarity on this day — and the ball came loose. But officials ruled the play dead as an incomplete pass, and while Lions coach Jim Caldwell later said he briefly considered challenging the ruling on the field, the Ravens weren’t going to wait around to find out.

Lions Rick Wagner and quarterback Matthew Stafford Lions Rick Wagner and quarterback Matthew Stafford are crushed immediately by the Ravens' defense, with Stafford losing the ball and Baltimore recovering in the second quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions quarterback Matthew Stafford along the sidelines Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford along the sidelines after getting slammed to the ground, throwing an interception and injuring his throwing hand late in the fourth quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsThe Cardinal Shehan Catholic School Choir of Baltimore The Cardinal Shehan Catholic School Choir of Baltimore belts out a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem before the start of the Lions, Ravens game in Baltimore.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsSee the ball, be the ball as Ravens tight end Maxx See the ball, be the ball as Ravens tight end Maxx Williams eyes a reception in the first quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsRavens tight end Nick Boyle hurdles Lions defenders Ravens tight end Nick Boyle hurdles Lions defenders Quandre Diggs and Nevin Lawson who brings him down after a reception in the first quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions running back Theo Riddick picks up a long first Lions running back Theo Riddick picks up a long first down early in the first quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions running back Theo Riddick spins out of the Ravens Lions running back Theo Riddick spins out of the Ravens defense of Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson picking up a long first down early in the first quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions head coach Jim Caldwell is pleased as running Lions head coach Jim Caldwell is pleased as running back Theo Riddick picks up a long first down early in the first quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions' Marvin Jones Jr. can't get past Ravens defender Lions' Marvin Jones Jr. can't get past Ravens defender Brandon Carr as the ball sails past downfield in the first quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions quarterback Matthew Stafford loses the ball but Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford loses the ball but is able to recover for a loss in yardage in the first quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsRavens' Mike Wallace readies for a long reception over Ravens' Mike Wallace readies for a long reception over Lions' D.J. Hayden with Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell coaching along the sidelines in the background in the first quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions quarterback Matthew Stafford is sacked by Ravens' Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is sacked by Ravens' Matthew Judon after he gets by Lions' Brian Mihalik in the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland on December 3, 2017.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions' Matthew Stafford is sacked by Ravens' Terrell Lions' Matthew Stafford is sacked by Ravens' Terrell Suggs, with Lions' Brian Mihalik looking on, in the second quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions' Matthew Stafford is helped by his offensive Lions' Matthew Stafford is helped by his offensive linemen after being sacked by Ravens' Terrell Suggs in the second quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions' Matthew Stafford is helped by his offensive Lions' Matthew Stafford is helped by his offensive linemen after being sacked by Ravens' Terrell Suggs in the second quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions' Matthew Stafford is helped by his offensive Lions' Matthew Stafford is helped by his offensive linemen after being sacked by Ravens' Terrell Suggs in the second quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions' Rick Wagner is taken off the field in a cart Lions' Rick Wagner is taken off the field in a cart after he and quarterback Matthew Stafford were crushed, with Stafford losing the ball in the second quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsRavens' Michael Campanaro loses the ball when he's Ravens' Michael Campanaro loses the ball when he's hit by Lions' Don Carey but Baltimore is able to recover in the second quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsRavens' Chris Moore makes a reception in front of Lions' Ravens' Chris Moore makes a reception in front of Lions' Quandre Diggs in the second quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions' Ezekiel Ansah brings down Ravens running back Lions' Ezekiel Ansah brings down Ravens running back Alex Collins in the third quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsRavens tight ends continue to take chunks out of the Ravens tight ends continue to take chunks out of the Lions defense with Benjamin Watson making a reception with Lions' Quandre Diggs defending in the third quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions newly acquired defensive end Dwight Freeney goes Lions newly acquired defensive end Dwight Freeney goes against Ravens' James Hurst in the third quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions' Ezekiel Ansah remains on the ground after play Lions' Ezekiel Ansah remains on the ground after play is over but eventually walks off the field to the sidelines in the third quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions' Marvin Jones Jr. is hit by Ravens' Michael Pierce Lions' Marvin Jones Jr. is hit by Ravens' Michael Pierce after a reception in the third quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions wide receiver Golden Tate gives Ravens' Lardarius Lions wide receiver Golden Tate gives Ravens' Lardarius Webb a piggy back ride, spinning for extra yardage after a reception in the third quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions punter, holder Sam Martin, right, taps kicker Lions punter, holder Sam Martin, right, taps kicker Matt Prater on the helmet after Prater's extra-point attempt goes wide in the third quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions rookie running back Tion Green regains his balance Lions rookie running back Tion Green regains his balance and is able to dive into the end zone for his first career touchdown in the third quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions rookie running back Tion Green dives into the Lions rookie running back Tion Green dives into the end zone, with Ravens' Maurice Canady defending, for his first career touchdown in the third quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsRavens'Jeremy Maclin pulls in a reception with Lions' Ravens'Jeremy Maclin pulls in a reception with Lions' Quandre Diggs defending in the fourth quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions rookie running back Tion Green dives into the Lions rookie running back Tion Green dives into the end zone, with Ravens' Maurice Canady and Patrick Onwuasor defending, for his first career touchdown in the third quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions' Anthony Zettel hits Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, Lions' Anthony Zettel hits Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, forcing the ball out but it is ruled an incomplete pass in the fourth quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions offensive coordinator Jim Cooter along the sidelines. Lions offensive coordinator Jim Cooter along the sidelines.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions' Marvin Jones Jr. pulls down a long reception Lions' Marvin Jones Jr. pulls down a long reception in front of Ravens' Marlon Humphrey in the fourth quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions' Michael Roberts makes a reception against his Lions' Michael Roberts makes a reception against his helmet and takes within the 5-yard line with Ravens' Marlon Humphrey defending in the fourth quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions' Michael Roberts stretches out over the goal Lions' Michael Roberts stretches out over the goal line after a reception but is down, short of the goal line in the fourth quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsThe Lions special teams players can only watch as a The Lions special teams players can only watch as a field goal attempt goes up, over and through the uprights for three late in the fourth quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions' Nick Bellore fakes slamming the ball to the Lions' Nick Bellore fakes slamming the ball to the ground and walks off to the sidelines after backing into the end zone untouched for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. tries to bring Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. tries to bring down quarterback Matthew Stafford overthrown pass but it goes over his head and into the waiting hands of Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey for an interception late in the fourth quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsRavens' Marlon Humphrey is flipped by Lions' Theo Riddick Ravens' Marlon Humphrey is flipped by Lions' Theo Riddick after intercepting a Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford pass in the fourth quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions quarterback Matthew Stafford heading to the sidelines Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford heading to the sidelines after getting slammed to the ground, throwing an interception and injuring his throwing hand late in the fourth quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions quarterback Matthew Stafford heading to the sidelines Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford heading to the sidelines after getting slammed to the ground, throwing an interception and injuring his throwing hand late in the fourth quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions quarterback Matthew Stafford heading to the sidelines Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford heading to the sidelines after getting slammed to the ground, throwing an interception and injuring his throwing hand late in the fourth quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions quarterback Matthew Stafford heading to the sidelines Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford heading to the sidelines after getting slammed to the ground, throwing an interception and injuring his throwing hand late in the fourth quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions quarterback Matthew Stafford along the sidelines Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford along the sidelines after getting slammed to the ground, throwing an interception and injuring his throwing hand late in the fourth quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions quarterback Matthew Stafford heads off the field Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford heads off the field after injuring his throwing hand and did not return, late in the fourth quarter.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions head coach Jim Caldwell and Ravens head coach Lions head coach Jim Caldwell and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh meet on the field after the Baltimore victory.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions' injured defensemen Haloti Ngata and Ravens' Lions' injured defensemen Haloti Ngata and Ravens' Terrell Suggs meet on the field after the Baltimore victory.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions wide receiver Kenny Golladay pulls in a reception Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay pulls in a reception during warm-ups before Detroit takes on the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland on December 3, 2018.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsThe NFL has pretty strict rules on players' footwear, The NFL has pretty strict rules on players' footwear, but for one week only, the league is relaxing those regulations to promote charitable causes. Detroit Lions shoe choices, clockwise from top left, with wide receiver Golden Tate, running back Zach Zenner, defensive end Ezekiel Ansah and linebacker Steve Longa.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, left, and Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, left, and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh talk on the sidelines before warmups.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsThe NFL has pretty strict rules on players' footwear, The NFL has pretty strict rules on players' footwear, but for one week only, the league is relaxing those regulations to promote charitable causes. Detroit Lions shoe choices, clockwise from top left, with quarterback Matthew Stafford, cornerback Quandre Diggs, wide receiver TJ Jones and quarterback Jake Rudock.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsLions wide receiver Kenny Golladay pulls in a reception Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay pulls in a reception during warm-ups.  Daniel Mears, Detroit NewsRetired former Detroit Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky Retired former Detroit Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky chats with quarterback Matthew Stafford on the field early Sunday morning.  Daniel Mears, Detroit News

Problem was, the Lions were in the middle of a defensive substitution. So as Flacco took the snap and dropped back to pass he had no trouble finding an open receiver, Chris Moore, who was alone in the middle of the field for a 23-yard gain.

Count ’em

Two plays later, the Ravens scored again to make it 27-13 and begin what would end up a franchise-record 24-point outburst in the fourth quarter. But stop there and hit the rewind button. Did you see what Flacco saw? The Lions had nine players on the field for that third-down play. Nine! One team was out there playing football, and the other was playing baseball.

2017 LIONS SCHEDULE 

“It’s hard enough sometimes playing with 11,” linebacker Tahir Whitehead said afterward. “You definitely can’t do it with nine.”

Whitehead was one of the visiting nine on the play, and as he got dressed to...Read more

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