Lions lose sixth straight

December 16, 2012

There are 130 days until the NFL Draft.

Not much else to look forward to at this point for the Detroit Lions.

When you lose to one of the laughingstocks of the NFL, you become the laughingstock, don’t you?

On Sunday, the Lions became just that again with a 38-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, who were on a nine-game losing streak and hadn’t won since Sept. 30.

The bumbling Lions were the perfect cure, giving up 28 points off turnovers.

“There’s no question, that was the story of this game,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said during his postgame radio show. “Our turnovers cost us the game.”

The Lions extended their losing streak to six games while falling to 4-10 on the season with two weeks remaining.

Only two teams in the NFL — Jacksonville and Kansas City — have fewer victories than the Lions.

Arizona has a ridiculously poor offense and hadn’t scored a touchdown in its previous two games. The Cardinals were coming off a humiliating 58-0 loss at Seattle when they appeared to totally quit on coach Ken Whisenhunt.

The Lions, despite their losing ways, had been competitive against quality competition, but they finally cracked and played their worst game of the season.

Considering the state of the Arizona offense, with rookie Ryan Lindley at quarterback, the only way the Lions seemingly could lose the game, much less give up 38 points, would be to give the Cardinals points off turnovers.

And that’s exactly what happened all day long.

A muffed punt and three interceptions handed the Cardinals their first four touchdowns and turned it into a laugher.

“We’ve got to take better care of the football,” Schwartz said.

After quarterback Matthew Stafford failed to complete his first six passes while the Lions went three-and-out on their first three possessions, Detroit came back with an impressive 11-play, 73-yard scoring drive to take a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.

It all fell apart quickly from there for the Lions.

Stefan Logan mishandled a punt deep in Detroit territory when one of his blockers, Pat Lee, accidentally ran into him. The Cardinals took over at the Lions’ 5-yard line and broke their 11-quarter touchdown drought on the next play.

About five minutes later, the Lions got the ball at their 7-yard line, were called for back-to-back false starts (offensive linemen Gosder Cherilus and Riley Reiff) and then Stafford threw the first of his game-turning interceptions. Cornerback Patrick Peterson returned it 31 yards to Detroit’s 3 to set up another score.

A couple minutes later, Stafford gave the Cardinals one more gift in the final seconds of the first half. Safety Rashad Johnson’s 53-yard interception return extended the Cardinals’ lead to 21-7 at halftime.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Stafford threw yet another interception on a fourth-and-goal play from the 2-yard line that was returned 102 yards for a touchdown by cornerback Greg Toler with 5:07 remaining in the game.

Arizona’s suffocating defense stopped the Lions on downs in Detroit territory, setting up one final score to turn it into a total rout at the end.

To sum it up, the Cardinals scored five touchdowns on a 5-yard drive, a 3-yard drive, two interception returns and a 29-yard drive.

All that was missing was the wrapping paper with a bow on top.

Lions receiver Calvin Johnson caught 10 passes for 121 yards and now needs 182 yards in the final two games to break Jerry Rice’s NFL record for receiving yards in a season.

Rice had 1,848 yards in 1995 with San Francisco.

Johnson has 106 catches for 1,667 yards through 14 games. He needs 20 yards to break Herman Moore’s club record (1,686 in 1995).

… Johnson became the first player to record back-to-back seasons of 1,600-plus receiving yards in NFL history, tied a NFL record with his seventh consecutive 100-yard receiving game and became the third Lions player with 100 catches in a season.

… Johnson, who has only five touchdowns in 14 games, was tackled at the opponent’s 1-yard line for the sixth time this season.

Stafford completed 24-of-50 passes for 246 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions.

He was constantly under pressure and took numerous big hits from a quality Arizona defense that clearly wanted to prove that its effort last week was a fluke.

“We got our butts kicked up front,” Schwartz said.

… Stafford needs 748 yards in the final two games to become the first player in NFL history to throw for 5,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.

… Stafford now has 17 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions for the season.  He had 41 TDs and 16 picks a year ago.

Jason Hanson kicked a 41-yarder, tying Morten Andersen for the most career field goals of 40 yards or longer (187 each). Andersen played in college at Michigan State. Hanson has made 28-of-32 attempts overall this season.

… Mikel Leshoure’s 1-yard run was the team’s 16th rushing touchdown of the season, the most by the Lions since 1997.

… Defensive tackle Nick Fairley (shoulder) and tight end Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) were inactive for Detroit.