A stunning 61-yard field goal dealt the Detroit Lions’ playoff
hopes a major blow and left them needing a good deal of help to
make the postseason.
They’ll now need to concentrate on what they can control, and
that’s a home matchup with the reeling and out-of-contention New
York Giants on Sunday.
The Lions (7-7) came into Monday’s home game against Baltimore
in control in the NFC North, but they dropped to third place with
an 18-16 loss on Justin Tucker’s long kick with 38 seconds
remaining. Detroit had been tied with Chicago atop the division and
holds the head-to-head tiebreaker, but it trails the Bears and
Green Bay after its fourth loss in five games.
Detroit now needs to win out and have Chicago and the Packers
each lose at least once over the final two weeks to make the
”Our emotions aren’t important right now. We have two games to
play, we’re one down in our division,” coach Jim Schwartz said.
”So I think that’s the most important thing for us to keep in mind
at this point. This was a setback, no question.”
Matthew Stafford was responsible for a good deal of the
offense’s struggles, throwing three interceptions, though he was
victimized by some drops. Calvin Johnson dropped two big passes in
the first half and had six catches for 98 yards, below his lofty
”I didn’t play my best game by any means,” Stafford said.
”We’re capable of playing much better than we did on offense.”
Though he’s passed for 4,211 yards in 2013, good for third in
the league, Stafford has committed 12 turnovers over the past five
weeks and thrown nine interceptions in the last four. He’s posted a
53.4 rating in the last two – well below his 85.8 season mark.
Detroit has totaled 580 yards in its back-to-back losses. It’s
averaging 413.7 on the season, fourth in the NFL.
The Lions have also been hurt by penalties the past two weeks,
committing 17 total. They’re just 4-3 at home, alternating losses
and wins in the past five games there.
Detroit will try to continue that trend against the Giants
(5-9), who are coming off a 23-0 loss to Seattle. Eli Manning threw
a career-high five interceptions and passed for just 156 yards as
New York lost its second straight and third in four games.
Hints of discord between the offense and defense seemed to
emerge after the Giants were guaranteed their first losing season
since 2004, as safety Antrel Rolle and tight end Brandon Myers
appeared to take verbal shots at the opposite unit.
”Am I surprised by it? No!” coach Tom Coughlin said Monday of
the frustration boiling over. ”I was surprised by some of what was
made of it. But we have an outstanding group of guys and they are
competitive and it was a difficult loss in a frustrating year, to
be honest with you, and so some of that came out.
”But today is a day of, as I put it, healing again, recognizing
who we are.”
Coughlin, though, couldn’t hide his disdain for the offensive
performance, calling it “pathetic.” The Giants gained 181 yards,
their second-lowest total of the season, as the four-game winning
streak that had moved them into playoff contention became an
increasingly distant memory.
While New York won’t be playing for a postseason berth the last
two weeks, there’s something of a sense of urgency around the team
regarding Manning, as two more poor performances could add to the
growing concern surrounding the franchise quarterback. Manning has
an NFL-high 25 interceptions and his 69.7 rating is the lowest of
Manning said he wasn’t bothered by Coughlin’s characterization,
essentially agreeing with it.
”There wasn’t anything said that I don’t think that was totally
undeserved,” he said. ”Offensively, I don’t know whatever word
you want to use to describe it, is probably pretty accurate. It
The status of top receiver Victor Cruz is uncertain after he
suffered a concussion last week. Cruz is two yards shy of his third
straight 1,000-yard season.
New York has won the last two meetings with Detroit, the most
recent coming in 2010 by a 28-20 score. The Giants have won their
only matchup with the Lions at Ford Field, 16-10 in 2007, and they
also earned a victory at the venue Dec. 13, 2010, when they beat
Minnesota 21-3 in a game that was moved after the Metrodome roof
collapsed in a snowstorm.