There’s a piece missing here – the offense, usually. Another is out of line – the defense, with a key breakdown. And another doesn’t seem to fit anywhere.
Call that one the missing element that comes with winning.
The Lions are still searching for ways to complete the picture after Monday night’s 13-7 loss to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
Instead of getting in closer contact with the leaders of the NFC North, the Lions slipped further behind, with a 2-4 record that has them solidly in last place.
The Bears made their record 5-1.
However the stats added up Monday night, the end result was what has become too common for the Lions.
They left town looking back at squandered opportunities – most of them on an offense that has never hit its rhythm for an extended period of time this year.
The Lions misfired most of the night on offense but still had scoring opportunities. They failed to cash in any of them until the last 30 seconds, when
Before that, the Bears – who did very little on offense – did all of the scoring. Jay Cutler hit Brandon Marshall with a seven-yard scoring pass to close out Chicago’s only TD drive on their first possession of the game.
Robbie Gould added two field goals to make it 13-0.
The rest of the game was a defensive struggle – and a turnover battle that the Bears won easily.
The Lions fumbled the ball away three times inside the 20-yard line
Bell’s fumble and Stafford’s interception both came when the Lions had the ball inside the five-yard line.
“We left plays out there,” Coach Jim Schwartz lamented after the game.
The offense started out bad and stayed that way until the final drive.
On the third play of the game,
“I turned my head and tried to run before I caught the ball,” Johnson said. “I had a lot of running room.”
Instead, it became a punt – and the start of a punting drill for the Lions that lasted most of the night.
Turnovers underscored the Lions’ ineffectiveness.
“That’s the tale of the game,” Schwartz said. “We turned it over three times in the red zone. Twice inside the five.”
Playing on Monday Night TV only made it worse for the image the Lions left on their fans and a national audience.
Jon Gruden, the ESPN color analyst who won a Super Bowl as head coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs, criticized the Lions’ red-zone offense, calling it one of the worst he’s ever seen.
The Lions have been ineffective early all year on offense, settling for field goals instead of touchdowns. They couldn’t even get field goals against a Bears team that didn’t look anything like one that warranted a 5-1 record.
Lack of firepower is the most surprising, and disappointing element of a baffling season. The Lions’ returned an offense almost intact from last year.
“I don’t think as an offense we’ve clicked yet,” Stafford said.
Schwartz disputed any notion that Stafford has been in a slump, even though the stats indicate otherwise – five TD passes against six interceptions.
The defense held up its end, sacking Cutler five times and generally holding the Bears in check with an occasional breakdown.
“No night is good enough when you don’t win,” said
With the offense the Lions were supposed to have, holding a team to 13 points should result in a victory.
For the Lions, it only left a bigger hole in the puzzle.
“One thing I know about this team – when we’re hot, we’re hot,” said guard
“That’s the plan. Get hot.”