The Lions got embarrassed on the road and hopes of back-to-back playoff berths all but evaporated with the loss in Baltimore.
Matt Prater doesn’t have many bad days, but Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens falls under that column. The Lions kicker missed his only field goal attempt, a 43-yard effort in the first quarter, and also missed an extra point, his first of the season.
The look of the two kicks were nearly identical, both pulled left. He claimed the holds were perfect and he was solely responsible for the misses.
“I just didn’t hit it like I should hit it,” Prater said. “I wrapped the ball, which is why it went left. It was disappointing because I felt I had a pretty good pregame and didn’t want to over-analyze it after missing the first one, over-adjust and push one, so I tried hitting the same thing and wrapped it like I did the first one.”
Prater admitted he hadn’t been feeling well this week, but wouldn’t blame his health for the struggles.
“That’s no excuse for not hitting the ball as well as I should have,” he said.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford reset another franchise record in the loss to the Ravens, completing 20 consecutive passes, starting early in the second quarter until his final throw, a fourth-quarter interception.
Stafford blew away his own mark, 13, which he set against the New Orleans Saints in 2016. The NFL record was set by Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill in 2015.
There aren’t many Lions passing records not held by Stafford. He’s the team’s all-time, single-season and single-game leader in completions, passing yards, touchdowns and passer rating. He also holds the team’s single-season record for completion percentage.
With Detroit’s ground game struggling, outsiders have been asking when the team would give Tion Green a shot. With Ameer Abdullah out with a neck injury, and Dwayne Washington struggling to make an impact, the team finally gave turned the undrafted rookie out of Cincinnati loose and he was one of the few bright spots in the loss.
On Green’s first touch, he took advantage of some great blocking and scooted around the left edge for a 33-yard gain. He struggled to find much breathing room after that but didn’t lose yardage on any of his 11 carries, which could be considered progress for the Lions.
Green also scored a touchdown, barreling through some traffic near the goal line to finish off the 6-yard score.
“He ran pretty well,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “He had some pretty good runs out there, made some tough runs. His touchdown run was a very good run, and obviously, he had a pretty nice gain there coming off the left side. He did some nice things. He got his shoulders square, and I thought he did well.”
Caldwell wouldn’t immediately commit to a continued role for Green but give Washington and Zach Zenner’s general ineffectiveness this season, it’s difficult to argue against it.
Detroit’s playoff hopes were dealt a serious blow with the loss to the Ravens. The Lions not only have to run the table the final four games, but they’re going to need some serious help. The Minnesota Vikings provided some support on Sunday, knocking off the Atlanta Falcons. The Philadelphia Eagles could do the same if they can beat the Seattle Seahawks Sunday night.
But even the Philadelphia wins, Detroit is essentially two games back with four games to go. Plus, with wins this week, Green Bay and Dallas caught up in the standings.
Oh, and in case you didn’t hear, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers returned to practice this week. So, it’s possible, if Week 17 matters for both teams, he could be on the field for the finale.