DETROIT — If there’s one play that symbolizes the Detroit Lions’ 2012 season, it was Stefan Logan kneeling at his own 4-yard line with 1:21 left in the fourth quarter.
The Lions had just tackled Atlanta running back Michael Turner in the end zone for a safety, cutting the Falcons’ lead to 31-18. Although they didn’t have a lot of time, the Lions might have made it more interesting had Logan, who had no opposing player within 15 yards, tried to run the ensuing punt upfield.
“He thought he was in the end zone, and he didn’t want to burn any clock,” said Lions coach Jim Schwartz, who appeared completely dumbfounded on the sideline after the play. “It’s a receiver’s job to know where he is on the field. By doing that, we let Atlanta play prevent defense and run down the clock.”
That was the nail in the coffin for the Lions, who fell to 4-11 and lost their seventh straight game.
Although Logan has not been very good this season, he’s not alone.
Last season when they went 10-6 and made the playoffs, the Lions won the turnover battle, finishing plus-11 in 16 games.
Through 15 games this season, they are minus-12, adding to that total with two fumbles lost and an interception Saturday night.
“We’ve had some problems,” left guard Rob Sims said. “On the field, no doubt, we’ve just been turning the ball over. That is a team problem.
“We block a little bit better, (QB) Matt (Stafford) doesn’t have to throw up some of the stuff he throws up. We block a little bit better, some of those guys don’t get a hand on the ball for (Mikel) Leshoure. I don’t know. It’s hard to win right now.”
Turning the ball over makes it hard to win. Stafford had 16 interceptions while opposing quarterbacks threw 21 last season. This season, he’s thrown 16 interceptions and opposing quarterbacks have thrown just 11.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan did not throw an interception Saturday and has thrown 14 so far this season.
Another thing that makes it hard to win is settling for field goals when you could and should get touchdowns. That’s happened a lot this season with the Lions.
Last year Stafford threw 41 touchdowns while opposing quarterbacks threw 26. This season Stafford has only 17 touchdowns while opposing quarterbacks have thrown 25.
“We got in the red zone and couldn’t finish,” Sims said. “I feel like we were moving the ball against them pretty well. Atlanta’s a good team, but we had a chance to be in that game and we didn’t get it done.”
It happened in the first quarter when the Lions stalled once they got to the Falcons’ 20-yard line and had to settle for Jason Hanson’s 34-yard field goal.
Then late in the second quarter, the Lions got to the Falcons’ 20-yard line again but had only seven seconds left in the half. Hanson kicked a 38-yard field goal.
Trailing 21-13 early in the fourth, the Lions got the ball down to the Falcons’ 6-yard line. Stafford threw an incomplete pass toward Leshoure on first down, Leshoure gained two yards on second down and Stafford ran two yards on third down. Hanson kicked a 20-yard field goal.
“There were a couple of times where we had some chances and had some opportunities and just didn’t get it done,” Stafford said. “I checked to that quarterback draw and I thought I was going to walk in. Everybody was guarding a man, I had two high safeties with nobody in the box.
“That guy kind of fell off and made a good play and tackled me. If we score there, it’s a different ball game.”
Unfortunately for the Lions and their fans, these are things that have been said after every loss.
“Same story every week,” Sims said. “You go back and look at your notes from last week it’s going to be the same exact thing.”