ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) For a while, the Detroit Lions looked as though they might keep their streak of dramatic, come-from-behind victories alive.
But Detroit finally fizzled at Arizona, losing 14-6 despite another stout defensive performance. The Lions had won four straight games, including exhilarating fourth-quarter rallies against New Orleans, Atlanta and Miami.
”We had our chances, too,” coach Jim Caldwell said Monday. ”It was a tight game with two good defenses. We had several opportunities to close the gap a little more and get ourselves in position to win it, but we were not able to do so.”
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Caldwell isn’t worried about his team’s ability to bounce back, even with a trip to New England next on the schedule.
”They’ve shown in spurts they have grit, they’re tough, they come back, they fight you,” Caldwell said. ”Even in this ball game, the effort was unreal. When you get that kind of effort, you just have to work on execution and some things. We’ll get better. I do think this team has the fortitude to be real resilient under disappointment.”
When asked about suiting back up to play a team as dangerous as the Patriots, running back Joique Bell said, ”We’re going to play Lions football. Resilient football. We have a lot of playmakers on this offense. We just have to figure out what we need to do and take it from there.”
And the offense does need to find some answers. The Cardinals kept the Lions out of the end zone Sunday, and Detroit mustered only 262 total yards. Quarterback Matthew Stafford managed just 164 yards on 18-of-30 passing with an interception.
”There is not anything you can do about that game,” Caldwell said. ”You don’t dwell on it. We do look at where we are, go through the game and point out our mistakes with brutal honesty. We don’t short change it. You have to get those things fixed in a hurry.”
Some have questioned offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s play calling, but Caldwell said he is ”certainly satisfied” with it and made it clear that it’s under his purview.
”Here’s the bottom line: Every defensive call, every call on special teams, every call on offense goes through me,” Caldwell said. ”If I don’t like it, I’ll change it. I’m responsible for every call that goes into the game, plain and simple. That’s my prerogative, and thus I’m responsible for everything that goes on, whether we’re effective or ineffective.”
Although the usually dangerous aerial attack never got into a rhythm against Arizona, Detroit did find more success than usual on the ground.
Bell had 14 carries for 85 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per rush. As a team, the Lions averaged a season-best 5.1 yards per carry. Before Sunday, Detroit had not posted a per-carry average better than 3.9 yards in a game.
And while he was clear that the overall performance Sunday was not where it needs to be, Caldwell is optimistic about the running game.
”The last couple weeks, Bell is setting a tone,” Caldwell said. ”He is a reckless runner. He’s got power. He’s deceptively elusive, and I think he does a good job. He wants the ball in his hands. He has been able to make some great runs and tough catches.”
The run game may get another boost from Reggie Bush, who missed the Arizona game with a nagging ankle injury. Bush said he plans to play against the Patriots.
”I have been trying to do my best to get as healthy as I can and be as smart as I can about it,” Bush said. ”Hopefully not playing this past game will play dividends this weekend.”