COMMENTARY | Another game, another opportunity wasted for the Detroit Lions.
The Lions (7-8) held a 20-13 lead with six minutes remaining in the game, but Matthew Stafford threw a pick-6 and Josh Brown kicked a game-winning field goal in overtime to give the New York Giants (6-9) the 23-20 win on Sunday, December 22.
The Lions have lost nine straight games in December and January and, as a result, will likely see a lot of personnel changes for the 2014 season.
Here are three things we learned in the Lions' Week 16 loss to the Giants:
Matthew Stafford continues to struggle
Stafford threw two more interceptions against the Giants bringing his total to 15 in his past eight games. One of them was a great defensive play by Justin Tuck at the line of scrimmage, but the other was an overthrow that got deflected and was returned for a touchdown.
The Giants should have had three or four interceptions, but couldn't hold on to a couple of Stafford's errant throws. Stafford's decision making was terrible against the Giants, and he wasn't very accurate when he did find his receivers.
He's going to need to get some extra help in the summer because the Lions will only go as far as their quarterback takes them. And right now, Stafford isn't going to take them very far.
Defense strong again
The Lions defense gave the offense every opportunity to win for the second week in a row. It allowed just one offensive touchdown, and even forced two turnovers.
From the start of the second half to about midway through the fourth quarter, the Lions allowed the Giants to gain one yard of total offense. It forced five punts, had a safety and an interception.
The defense was even missing cornerbacks Chris Houston and Rashean Mathis. It's amazing because the defense, especially the secondary, was often a big question mark week to week.
However, it stepped up in a big way these past two weeks, but couldn't get the support it needed from its offense.
Expect personnel changes in the offseason
Five seasons and one playoff appearance isn't going to cut it. Jim Schwartz coached his last game at Ford Field.
It will cost the Lions $12 million to end Schwartz's contract, which was extended before the beginning of last year through 2015, but it's a move that needs to be made. He can't seem to control his team, and they lack discipline. Five years is enough, time to hand over the reins.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan also is likely to lose his job. Linehan has had so much talent to work with on offense, and can't seem to get them all on the same page. He's often making questionable play calls in key situations -- Stafford throwing the ball up by seven with less than six minutes to go, throwing the ball on third-and-1 -- and not putting his players in the best position to win.
The Lions will end their season in Minnesota. A win is only a moral victory at this point. Time to start thinking about next year.
Tom Mitsos is a Michigan native who writes about 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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