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Loss to Seattle shows how far Lions have to go to contend – NFL Nation

DETROIT – Ricky Jean Francois stood in front of his stall at the back of an emptying Detroit Lions locker room and seemed baffled.

How did the Lions — a group that had won three of four games entering Sunday’s game against Seattle — play like that? How did all of their old problems cropped up again? How did the run defense could fail over and over again?

Baffled that the plan the Lions had for the Seahawks resulted in a fairly dominant 28-14 Seattle win where no phase of the game went well. At all.

“It’s aggravating to know you have one of the most talented teams in the NFL and don’t care what nobody else says,” Jean Francois said. “It’s like, ‘Ahh, you know you can do it. You know you can stop the run. You know you can run the ball. You know you can pass the ball. You know you can do good on special teams.’

“Just to see it not click, it’d be like, ‘Why?’”

Those answers, at this point, are hard to pinpoint. Detroit knew Seattle would be a run-first team and the Seahawks ran for 176 yards (4.2 yards per carry). They knew that set up Russell Wilson in play-action, and Wilson had a perfect passer rating, completing 14 of 17 attempts for 248 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

The special teams equaled the poor play. Ameer Abdullah lost a fumble on a kick return that, three plays later, led to Seattle’s second touchdown. They struggled in coverage, picking up three penalties, and allowed punter Michael Dickson to run for nine yards and a first down to seal the game.

Offensively, the Lions had two turnovers (a Matthew Stafford fumble and interception) and Stafford’s passer rating was under 100 for the first time since opening night. The run game looked more like the 2017 version, averaging 2.6 yards per carry.

In many ways, according to multiple Lions, it comes down to focus. For one reason or another, and while it wasn’t a problem in practice, it wasn’t clear until things began falling apart Sunday.

“The mark of any good team is bouncing back and we didn’t bounce back [Sunday],” Abdullah said. “So definitely got to continue to work on that factor, because stuff is going to happen.

“As a squad, as a whole, we didn’t bounce back right.”

At 3-4, and again in last place in the NFC North, the next four weeks should provide an indicator of this team truly bouncing back. Detroit’s next five opponents are over-.500. Three of them — Minnesota and Chicago twice — are in the division. All are in the NFC.

Things must change. Fast. Otherwise the season will get away from the Lions.

“It’s all a mindset. As long as everybody brings the same intensity to detail, fundamentals, you know, all that stuff is fundamental stuff that can be fixed and as the season goes on, we can’t lose sight of that,” Abdullah said. “It’s a long season and sometimes you kind of hit a cruise control and you kind of forget the little things you do every single day like, same foot, same shoulder, ball security, elbow tight, stuff like that.

“You got to continue to focus on that as the season goes on.”

Once things began going wrong Sunday, it spiraled into a loss that felt all too familiar for Detroit teams past. A chance to show they were different than teams of old and the Lions looked exactly like their predecessors. How they react to it will tell so much about the rest of the season.

Back in the back of the locker room, Jean Francois acknowledged it.

“It should sting. I want it to sting because that means you’re going to learn from it,” Jean Francois said. “You’re going to learn when you get stung from it. I want you to learn from it. The next five games will show a lot about this team.

“It’s going to show if we focused. It’s going to show, do we want it more than that other team across the ball each and every week. And just having these next five opponents, I’m happy. It only gets better. The teams get better. As the teams get better, your preparation has to go another step higher.”

If it doesn’t, the Lions might be in for a long second half of the year.

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