Lions shooting blanks on offense in 4th quarter
Detroit’s potentially potent offense has been held scoreless in
the fourth quarter in each of the Lions’ last three losses.
Turnovers have had a lot to do with that.
Detroit gave up the ball a total of five times in the final
quarter of those three setbacks, losing leads and games against
Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh.
”It’s tough to win football games when you turn the ball
over,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said Wednesday. ”We know
that. We’re doing everything that we can to correct it.”
If the Lions (7-6) don’t want to blow their chance to win a
division title for the first time in two decades, they’ll need to
fix their glaring weakness quickly, especially because Baltimore
(7-6) is playing at Ford Field on Monday night.
The defending Super Bowl champion Ravens have forced 13 fumbles
this year, ranking among the NFL’s best, and have intercepted nine
Detroit has won only one game in the last month in large part
because it has turned the ball over 15 times in four games.
Stafford has contributed to the statistic, throwing seven
interceptions and losing two fumbles during the stretch.
”I’m trying to make as good of decisions as I possibly can and
challenge myself during the week every day in practice to make the
best possible decisions and let that carry over,” he said.
Stafford has been particularly shaky in the fourth quarter.
He has completed less than one-fourth of his passes with one
touchdown, two interceptions and has lost a fumble in the final
quarters of the last four games.
Are defenses making adjustments in the final quarters of
”I really haven’t looked at the stats,” Stafford insisted. ”I
don’t really break it down too much quarter.”
Even though Detroit’s inability to take care of the ball and
score on offense has contributed to it blowing fourth-quarter leads
in each of the last three losses, center Dominic Raiola bristled
when pressed to reflect on what has gone wrong for the offense late
in those games and what can be done to improve moving forward.
”We don’t bring that stuff up,” Raiola said.
At least a couple of his teammates, though, acknowledged
fumbling and throwing interceptions have become a big problem.
”We’ve had turnovers and still have had a chance to win games,
which is good in a way, but it’s also bad,” receiver Nate Burleson
said. ”It speaks volumes about the mistakes costing us games. But
it also tells the story that if we don’t turn the ball over, we
could quite possibly be walking away with double-digits leads in
some of these games.”
And, Detroit would likely be coasting toward an NFC North
The slumping Lions have allowed Chicago to pull into a
first-place tie and given Green Bay a shot to contend for the
division title even while the Bears and Packers have played without
their first-string QBs.
”Turnovers have killed us,” running back Reggie Bush said.
”We’ve seen glimpses of how special this team can be and how
special this offense can be when we get out of our own way.”
Bush has helped Detroit approach its potential on offense, but
he was a late scratch in Sunday’s loss to the Eagles after
aggravating his injured right calf while jogging during warmups. He
fully expects to play against the Ravens.
”I feel good,” Bush said. ”It’s honestly never happened to me
before. I never missed a game for a pulled muscle. I look forward
to getting back this week.”
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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