Detroit — Detroit Lions defensive back Quandre Diggs is tired of answering questions about arbitrary moral victories.
His second-quarter interception on Sunday doesn’t matter if the visiting Los Angeles Rams score 30 points. His monster hit on Robert Woods that jarred a deep ball loose late in the first half is unimportant if Woods and Jared Goff connect for an 8-yard touchdown pass later in the drive.
And was Diggs content with holding Goff to 207 yards through the air on 17 of 33 passing?
“We lost, man," Diggs said.
It appears not — and nobody in the Lions’ locker room seems to be feeling any different.
Detroit has now dropped five of its last six games. Its last two — a one-score Thanksgiving Day loss to the Chicago Bears and Sunday’s 30-16 loss to the Rams — both appeared to be winnable games against division leaders at home.
But each time, Matthew Stafford has turned the ball over inside Lions’ territory during the fourth quarter of a one-score game.
On Sunday, Los Angeles All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald bullied Lions center Graham Glasgow on his way to a strip-sack of Stafford, a turnover that led to a 10-point deficit on the ensuing Rams drive.
“That’s probably the worst part of (the loss),” Glasgow said. “Being so close there and us having the ball with the chance to go up, and then having a miscommunication deal that caused a strip-sack.”
The “little things,” as linebacker Eli Harold referred to them, are the reason why this 4-8 football team can’t walk away thinking about the bright side of close losses against the NFL’s top contenders.
On the Los Angeles possession prior to Stafford’s fumble, Harold and defensive end Romeo Okwara each swatted throws by Goff on consecutive passes inside the Rams’ 20.
“Knowing that you could have changed the game with a specific play always hurts,” Harold said.
Okwara got both hands on the ball with nobody between him and the end zone before the ball fell to the turf.
“Dropped it,” he said. “I have to make a play, so I didn’t make it. So, it is what it is.”
Keeping Goff grounded in a 14-point loss feels like a microcosm of Detroit’s frustrating season on the defensive side of the ball; one where every defeat seems to showcase a newfound defensive strength and feature a different Achilles’ heel that makes each addition to the loss column sting like a fresh wound.
Harold recycled a familiar refrain of weeks’ past when asked why the Lions came up short on this particular Sunday.
“We just gotta figure out what’s hurting us… and try to put a whole game together,” he said.
And when pressed about it, he admitted that the team’s biggest problem is not being able to figure out where their key deficiencies lie.
“It’s the unknown, man," Harold said. "It’s just what it is. That’s just how it’s playing out, and no one knows.”
The Lions have road games coming up with the Arizona Cardinals (3-9) and Buffalo Bills (4-8), who both sit third in their respective divisions.
For the next two weeks, there’s no such thing as a moral victory — no potential postgame questions about whether there’s any solace in defeat.
The Lions will either detail how they found their way, or come up empty again while trying to explain how they could be so lost.
And at this point, either scenario is entirely possible.
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.