Allen Park — The Detroit Lions made the most of the turnover battle in their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, and in the end, it made all the difference in a one-score victory.
The Seattle Seahawks made the most of the turnover battle in the Lions’ home opener, and in the end, it made all the difference in a one-score victory.
Along with a litany of problems on the defensive side of the ball, one big takeaway from Sunday’s 37-31 loss at Ford Field was — well, the lack of takeaways. But it wasn’t the Lions’ biggest problem relating to turnovers Sunday.
Detroit coughed up the ball twice on its own side of the field Sunday, including a fumble by David Montgomery on the first play of the second half — ultimately erasing a seven-point halftime lead — and a pick-six in the fourth quarter thrown by Jared Goff that gave Seattle a 10-point advantage.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell on Monday said it was a little reminiscent of the start to last season, when the Lions started a turnover-happy stretch early in the season — 10 turnovers over three games from Weeks 5-7 — as it raced out to a 1-6 record.
“It’s a little bit like we started last year, man. It just becomes contagious in the wrong way,” Campbell said. “We gotta stop the bleeding and get back to where, man, everybody’s gotta think of the football as — your life depends on it. You’ve got to think of it that way. Your teammate’s life depends on it.
Every game of football will have the “what-ifs” attached to it, but the Lions have missed a few chances to make gold. C.J. Gardner-Johnson — who tied for the league lead in interceptions (six) last season — dropped a pair in the opener before the Chiefs’ receiving corps put the game on ice by their lonesome.
Safety Kerby Joseph had the opportunity to make a big-time pick on third-and-goal from Detroit’s 7-yard-line in the third quarter of Sunday’s game; it was an undoubtedly tough play to make, but he was a step late and couldn’t hang on to a ball that might have gone for points the other way.
“Whether it’s a strip attempt, punching the ball out, finishing on the tackle, finding the ball in the air, making plays and not letting those innocent balls hit the ground … just bring those to fruition (is key),” Lions cornerback Cam Sutton said.
“We’ve been in good situations thus far, but we really just gotta keep bringing the havoc, keep getting after teams, keep attacking teams and not being on that back end of reading and reacting … instead of going on the hunt.”
Lions head coach Dan Campbell on Monday said interceptions will come, but the defense generally needs to be more intentional about forcing takeaways.
“Look, everybody says you gotta catch the ones that come to you, but to me, it’s more about us forcing them. And the way we hit, we bite the ball, we gotta get strips. We have to make a conscious effort. And again, if you want it, you gotta emphasize it in practice.
“What we’re emphasizing (as a coaching staff) is not being emphasized, so we gotta go back and there’s got to be a different way to do it. I’ve gotta do that with the coaches, the coaches have to do that to the players, and it can’t just be a go-through-the-motions (type of thing). You have to force takeaways. The picks will come.”