Lack of focus befuddles Lions in loss to Seahawks

By Nolan Bianchi
Special to The Detroit News

Detroit — In the midst of a 28-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Lions defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois realized his team’s lack of focus began at the team facility six days beforehand.

“You play this game five to six times before you play it on the actual day,” he said. “We were not executing, we weren’t hitting our plays, we didn’t focus at all.”

Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin pulls in a reception with Lions safety Glover Quin defending in the second quarter Sunday at Ford Field in Detroit.

For someone who has maintained throughout Detroit’s rocky season — which seemed to be on an uptick of late — that “football is a three-phase game,” not a single one of Matt Patricia’s units came ready to outplay the opposition.

Detroit (3-4) turned the ball over three times, gave up 413 yards of offense and allowed Seahawks punter Matt Dickson to run out of his own end zone and pick up 9 yards for a first down late in the fourth quarter to put the final nail in the Lions’ coffin.

“I’m going to put that on me,” Patricia said. “I have to have them ready to go.”

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Detroit appeared to start well. Romeo Okwara sacked Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson to end the Seahawks’ opening series, and the offense responded with 13-play, 91-yard drive capped by a 39-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Jones that gave the Lions an early lead.

That’s where the wheels fell off: Ameer Abdullah fumbled on the kickoff after Seattle tied the game at 7, and Detroit punted on the four possessions that followed, while the Seahawks put up 28 straight points.

Abdullah described his gaffe as “just a lack of discipline.”

“(We) didn’t, I guess, show up how we should,” he said. “It’s a long season, sometimes you kind of hit cruise control and you forget the little things you do every single day.”

Even when Detroit was able to move the ball on offense, it lacked the ability to finish drives the way it has in weeks prior. Down two scores in the fourth, Matthew Stafford fumbled and threw an interception in Seattle territory on consecutive possessions.

Rookie back Kerryon Johnson, who rushed for a career-high 158 yards last Sunday in a win over Miami, was held to 22 yards on eight carries.

“We just weren’t consistent in our performance from last week and it showed,” Johnson said.

“We had drives at the end of the game, we marched right down the field, we didn’t finish. We had drives at the beginning of the game we didn’t finish.

Jean Francois said he can’t help but get angry about Detroit’s erratic play when he considers the talent that lines the Lions’ locker room.

“The only thing that’s aggravating me is that this is a good team at every position,” he said. “At some other point you’re going to be at home in December like, alright, it’s over.”

The Lions still have five of its six divisional games remaining. Their next two games are on the road at Minnesota and Chicago, and Jean Francois has thrown down the gauntlet to his teammates regarding changes that need to be made if Detroit is to contend for the NFC North crown.

 “Lock in for these next 10 weeks, just lock in. Leave everything else alone outside of this building,” he said.

“I know you love your family, but tell them you will see them in February. Just lock in and do your job. Nothing else is important to us right now.”

Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.