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Lions are at a loss that goes beyond 0-2

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ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Two games into the 2015 season, it’s quite clear the Detroit Lions probably won’t be able to match last year’s defensive performance that ranked second in the league.

And with the offense looking like the same inconsistent unit as last season, the Lions have a lot of work to do if they hope to return to the postseason.

The Lions lost to the Minnesota Vikings, 26-16, at TCF Bank Stadium Sunday. They lost two fumbles and quarterback Matthew Stafford threw an interception on a short pass.

The run defense, which was the best in the NFL last year, allowed 199 yards, including 134 by Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson.

Overall, there was little for the Lions to hang their hat on as they fell to 0-2 for the first time since 2010.

“We still are going to stay positive … but we do have to figure it out,” wide receiver Golden Tate said. “We have to figure it out in a hurry. We have time, but not much time.”

The Lions’ time is especially limited as their next three games are against the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals, three of the NFL’s most well-rounded teams.

With the Broncos visiting Ford Field next Sunday night, the Lions must fix their offensive line issues after allowing eight quarterback hits because Denver linebackers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware could cause further physical damage to Stafford.

“We should be able to have a pocket where he can just sit back and relax and just pass it to our players,” left guard Manny Ramirez said. “We have a lot of guys that are capable of doing a lot of great things with the ball in their hands, and if we don’t block right, we can’t allow that to happen.”

After dealing with a right arm injury last week, Stafford sustained a couple of left arm issues Sunday and underwent X-rays on his chest and ribs after the game.

Several Lions lauded Stafford’s toughness, but he was inefficient as he played through pain, completing 32-of-53 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson had 10 catches on 17 targets after getting four passes thrown his way in Week 1.

Although he had an impressive 11-yard touchdown pass in the front corner of the end zone in the second quarter, Johnson had only 80 receiving yards as most of his routes were short.

The Lions have yet to truly throw the ball deep despite having Johnson and the strong-armed Stafford.

On defense, the Lions couldn’t stop the run and struggled to create a pass rush as Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was an efficient 14-of-18 for 153 yards and two touchdowns.

The Lions also had some defensive lapses that stopped potentially big plays, including a near sack by linebacker Kyle Van Noy that turned into a 49-yard catch and run by Peterson, and an offside penalty by defensive end Jason Jones that nullified Peterson’s fumble.

“I’ve got to do a better job,” head coach Jim Caldwell said Monday. “I’ve got to do a better job of getting these guys ready to go. I’ve got do a better job of getting these guys performing consistently across the board, and we’re going to get that done.”

REPORT CARD VS. VIKINGS

–PASSING OFFENSE: D — Quarterback Matthew Stafford took eight quarterback hits, and a combination of poor offensive line play and inaccurate passing was a key reason the Lions lost. He finished 32-of- 53 for 286 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson had 10 catches but for only 83 yards, and the Lions refused to test Minnesota deep. Receiver Golden Tate had six catches for 80 yards and was the lone bright spot.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: F — The Lions finished with only 38 yards on 16 carries. Quarterback Matthew Stafford’s four runs for 20 yards led all players, and since he’s not a runner, that’s a terrible sign for the group. The running backs combined for only 18 yards on 12 carries, led by Ameer Abdullah’s six carries for nine yards.

–PASS DEFENSE: C — Not being beat over the top was one of the few bright spots for the Lions, but they still allowed an incredibly efficient performance by Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who finished 14-of-18 for 153 yards and a touchdown. Losing track of tight end Kyle Rudolph a couple times and allowing a 49-yard catch and run by running back Adrian Peterson on a broken play hurt this unit, but the one quarterback hit on Bridgewater was a glaring weakness.

–RUSH DEFENSE: D — The Lions talked all week about their expectation that running back Adrian Peterson would get a lot of touches for Minnesota. They were right, but they weren’t prepared as Peterson ran for 134 yards on 29 carries. The Lions allowed a 29-yard run on a reverse by receiver Jarius Wright, and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater added 21 yards on six carries, including a one-yard touchdown run on a play-action fake.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus — There was nothing positive to note for the Lions in this phase. The most notable play of the game was a 31-yard punt return by Minnesota’s Marcus Sherels. The Lions didn’t have any other real errors.

–COACHING: D — As was the case in Week 1, the Lions didn’t make nearly enough adjustments when the game plan failed. The Vikings marched down the field with a mix of passes and runs that the Lions couldn’t stop consistently. The Lions offense completely lacked the necessary aggression to take advantage of its abundance of playmakers. The Lions’ final drive lasted 18 plays and 4:32 despite the team trailing by 16 points with 6:13 left, so a lack of urgency was another issue.


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