The game had more twists and turns than any in recent memory, but the Lions fell short of a historic comeback in New Orleans. We offer our takeaways on the game.
Allen Park – If there’s one team that’s welcoming the bye week with open arms, it’s the Detroit Lions.
Not only have they dropped two straight after their fourth-quarter rallies ran out of steam, but the body count on the team’s injury list continues to climb.
In Sunday’s 52-38 wild shootout loss to the New Orleans Saints, quarterback Matthew Stafford endured another beating, safety Glover Quin (concussion) and receiver Golden Tate (shoulder) both exited in the third quarter, and the team could barely piece together an offensive line after it was decimated by an array of ailments.
Add it all together and Lions coach Jim Caldwell said the team’s midseason respite couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Yeah, no doubt. There’s no question about it,” Caldwell said Monday. “We had quite a few guys get a little banged up during the course of the game. So just like I mentioned yesterday, if we were playing a Thursday game it’d be really tough. If we were playing a Sunday game it might be even fairly tough.”
Caldwell declined to provide an injury update for any players. He said injury information will be available next week when the team is required to release an injury report ahead of the next game, Oct. 29 at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
However, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Tate suffered an AC joint sprain in his shoulder and could miss a few weeks.
Caldwell also said the team has yet to make a decision regarding left tackle Taylor Decker’s return. Decker, who is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list for the Lions’ game against the Steelers.
But even with pending decisions and a daunting task like the Steelers waiting on the other side of the bye week, Caldwell said his main concern this week is taking advantage of the extra time to regroup and recover.
“Get healthy, that’s the No. 1 thing,” Caldwell said. “That’s going to be the primary focus but then obviously there’s some little things that we can work on, and we got a lot of those. So, we’ll certainly make certain we keep our nose to the grindstone, try to get our team better and in position to win some games.”
While limping into the bye following a loss is never ideal, allowing the taste of defeat to marinate a little bit longer can make a team hungrier and give it more time to reflect on its shortcomings.
And there was plenty that went wrong for the Lions on Sunday, lowlighted by Stafford’s five total turnovers, three defensive touchdowns allowed and Detroit’s third-ranked run defense surrendering a season-worst 193 yards rushing (5.2 yards per carry) to a Saints backfield that entered the matchup averaging 94 yards per game.
“Sometimes festering is a good thing,” Caldwell said. “So, we try to balance it and it kind of depends on where we are as a team and how we see it and we adjust it in that regard. But there’s nothing wrong with being really determined about making certain you correct your errors.
“So, it just kind of depends on the week. When you got one right away, you certainly try to get it (a loss) behind you within a relatively short period of time. This particular week, it’s not a bad thing that we need to be concerned about a whole lot of things in terms of how we’re playing.”
Caldwell said the team has yet to make a decision whether it will activate defensive tackle Khyri Thornton, whose six-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on substances of abuse ended after Sunday’s game.
Thornton would be eligible to play against the Steelers and would provide interior depth up front following the loss of Haloti Ngata.
Thornton, 27, played in 13 games and made six starts last season, logging 18 tackles with one sack. He signed a two-year, $3.3 million contract in the offseason.