The Detroit Lions are a bad football team, but for most of the season’s first seven weeks they had an endearing quality about them, that they would do everything short of biting off kneecaps to get a win.
That narrative no longer applies after the Lions put on an embarrassing display for the second time in three weeks, losing to the lowly Philadelphia Eagles, 44-6, at Ford Field.
The Lions (0-8) have lost 12 straight games dating back to last season and are the only winless team in the NFL. They are off to their worst start since 2008, when they became the first team in NFL history to go 0-16. And Sunday’s loss was their most lopsided since a 47-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last December, when a large portion of their interim coaching staff was in COVID protocol.
First-year Lions coach Dan Campbell blamed himself for his team’s performance Sunday, saying, “It’s like the Bad News Bears on some stuff, man.”
“And there again, that’s on me, man,” Campbell said. “You don’t play that bad unless your head coach did not have you ready to go, so I did not. That’s very evident. I think we all know that.”
The Eagles, 2-5 entering play, had their way with the Lions from the opening kick.
They scored on all seven of their drives (not including one kneel-down snap at the end of the first half) after starting the game with a punt, ran for a season-high 236 yards on 46 carries, and kept the Lions off the scoreboard until the game was well out of reach midway through the fourth quarter.
“Honestly, it makes us feel like trash,” Lions safety Tracy Walker said. “It’s not a great feeling. Losing is not a great feeling. It’s not something that you just want to go – we work too hard. I feel like as an organization, as a player, my coaches, I feel like we work too hard to go out there and present what we did today.”
Coming off a nail-biter of a loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the Lions were sloppy and inefficient on offense Sunday, overpowered and outmanned on defense, and outcoached on the sideline.
Twice, the Lions drew penalties for having too many men on the field on defense. Quarterback Jared Goff sailed a pass out of bounds on fourth down for the second time in three weeks, though he insisted Sunday’s throw was unintentional. And Campbell mismanaged a two-minute drill at the end of the first half.
Trailing 17-0 and in need of points at the time, the Lions hurried to the line on third-and-1 from the Philadelphia 22 and handed to the ball to D’Andre Swift for no gain. After a timeout, Goff was sacked on fourth down.
“I hate what I did before halftime, freaking hate it,” Campbell said. “Now, I don’t hate going for it, but I should’ve used a timeout going into third-and-1. So that didn’t help either. Look, I got out-coached, man. I got out-coached. I didn’t help these guys.”
The Lions, who had a similarly uninspiring effort in a 34-11 to the Cincinnati Bengals two weeks ago, when they were shut out for the game’s first 51 minutes, were booed off the field at halftime and Goff was serenaded with chants of, “We want Blough,” in the second half.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts had a game-high 71 yards rushing on seven carries for the Eagles and dug Philadelphia out of a third-and-12 situation from its own 8-yard line with the game still in the balance early in the third quarter.
Boston Scott, starting in place of injured running back Miles Sanders, capped that drive with his second touchdown of the day and finished with 60 yards rushing on 12 carries.
Jordan Howard, promoted from the Eagles’ practice squad last week, added 57 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 12 carries, ex-Lion Darius Slay returned a fumble 33 yards for a touchdown and Gardner Minshew played the entire fourth quarter in place of Hurts.
The Lions won the opening coin toss and elected to receive, believing they had the edge on Philadelphia’s struggling defense, but ran just four offensive plays before punting then missed a 47-yard field goal on their second series.
Goff finished 25 of 34 passing for 222 yards and led a meaningless scoring drive in the fourth quarter, capped by rookie Jermar Jefferson’s first career touchdown run.
David Blough replaced Goff for the game’s series, to cheers from the smattering of fans still left in the stands. He fumbled on his second snap, but the Lions recovered, and did not attempt a pass.
“The whole day was frustrating,” Goff said. “The whole year has been frustrating. We say a lot of things, we want to do a lot of things and then we’re unable to execute. One week at a time each week. Over and over again we just – we can say things all we want. We can say, ‘We need to do this. We need to do that.’ We can say this, we can say that. Until we change our habits and until we change who we are, nothing will change.”
The Lions, who have lost six of their eight games by more than a touchdown, have a bye next week and play the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns on the road before returning home Nov. 25 for their annual Thanksgiving game against the Chicago Bears.
“That was brutal,” Campbell said. “That was bad. We didn’t even give ourselves a chance.”