Detroit Lions: Three Things We Learned in Week 14 Loss to Philadelphia Eagles

Yahoo Contributor Network
Grading the 2013 Detroit Lions
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Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions played well below expectations in 2013.

COMMENTARY | Another game, another blown opportunity for the Detroit Lions (7-6) to put a stranglehold on the NFC North.

The Lions held a 14-0 lead midway through the third quarter, but surrendered 28 points in the fourth quarter in a 34-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles (8-6).

The Chicago Bears play the Dallas Cowboys on Monday, December 9 and could tie the Lions for first place in the NFC North. The Lions, however, still hold the tiebreaker based on head-to-head wins.

The snow had an immediate affect on the game early, but the Eagles offense handled the elements well in the second half en route to a win.

Here are three things we learned in the Lions' Week 14 loss:

Turnovers continue to haunt Lions

The chances for a sloppy game were high when the snow started picking up in Philadelphia. Visibility was low, but the Lions' turnover rate was anything but low.

The Lions fumbled the ball seven times, five of them by quarterback Matthew Stafford in which a good portion of those were bad center-to-quarterback exchanges.

In the first quarter, Joique Bell fumbled the ball twice as the Lions were near or in the red zone. Neither of those fumbles turned into points for the Eagles, but they kept the Lions from scoring points of their own.

The fumble that really hurt the Lions came in the fourth quarter after the Eagles had increased their lead to 28-20. The Lions were in Eagles territory looking to tie the game when the ball was snapped before Stafford was ready. Stafford couldn't recover, and the Eagles scored on the ensuing possession to go up 34-20.

The snow had an obvious affect on the Lions' handling of the ball, but it's not an excuse. The Eagles didn't lose any fumbles, and they played in the exact same conditions. Turnovers have been killing this team for the latter part of the year, and in years' past.

According to Lions senior writer and insider Tim Twentyman, the Lions are -14 in turnover margin and have a 24-41 record in the past five years through Week 14.

The talent and skill level is there, but this team cannot consistently turn that talent and skill into wins.

Run defense disappears in fourth quarter

Snowy conditions usually force teams to run the ball. This game was no different as each quarterback threw 25 times or less. The Lions did a fantastic job of containing LeSean McCoy in the first half -- the Eagles notched just 92 yards of total offense.

However, the second half was a completely different story. Philadelphia had 405 yards of total offense in the second half, including two McCoy touchdowns.

Give the Eagles credit, they never abandoned the run despite being held in check in the first half. The Lions, on the other hand, fell victim to poor tackling.

The baffling thing was the Lions tackled better in the first and second quarters when the snow was falling the hardest. As the snow started to let up, the Lions tackling also let up.

Jeremy Ross outscores Lions offense

Despite the poor play in the second half from the Lions, there was a silver lining in this game. That silver lining is return man Jeremy Ross, who outscored the entire Lions offense with a punt return and a kickoff return for a touchdown.

He gave the Lions a 14-0 lead in the third quarter after returning a punt and returned a kickoff to give them a 20-14 lead in the fourth quarter after the Eagles tied the game at 14-14. The Lions had all the momentum after returning that kickoff for a touchdown, but surrendered 20 straight points.

Ross is just the second Lions player ever to accomplish the feat, joining Eddie Payton in 1977, which is even more impressive as Ross was signed to the team just two months ago and started on the practice squad.

After seeing Stefan Logan fumble so many punts and kickoffs last year, it's a good sight to see Ross take two back to the house in the same game.

The Lions continue to make their path to the playoffs harder than it needs to be. They still have control of their own destiny but, if they continue to let games slip away from them, they could lose that control.

Tom Mitsos is a Michigan native who covers the Detroit Lions for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He also is a high school sports reporter at MLive Media Group. You can follow Tom on Twitter.

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