The Detroit Lions’ offense has gone from being shut out to shooting itself in the foot.
In Sunday’s 20-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Lions were shut out for the first time since 2009 and failed to even reach the red zone.
In Thursday’s 41-25 loss to the Houston Texans, the offense at least showed some life — but ultimately ended up choking on its own mistakes and failed to sustain any momentum after a whiz-bang of a reverse flea-flicker play on the opening drive resulted in a 7-0 lead.
The Lions scored three touchdowns — though the final one came in garbage time — accounting for all of their output over their past nine quarters.
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“I would say just being more consistent,” running back Adrian Peterson, who scored two touchdowns, said of the offense’s problems. “If you look at us as an offense, we have been able to be productive. Last week was a different story, of course. But with the exception of that, we’ve been productive as an offense.
“It’s just all about being consistent. So that’s what it is, is consistency, being able to capitalize in the red zone. It’s like coach (Matt) Patricia, he harps on that every week and he talks about it all the time, being more efficient in the red zone. It comes down to execution and that’s on us as an offense. Once we get down there, we have to execute better.”
The Lions scored touchdowns on three of their four trips to the red zone Thursday. But that efficiency was erased by the self-inflicted wounds of three turnovers in eight plays, at the end of the first quarter, that the Texans turned into 13 points.
“The pick-six and the other two came at critical times,” Peterson said. “I think one was closer to the red zone or just outside the red zone and the other one was across the 50 as well. I felt like we were moving the ball and we did things to hurt ourselves. Credit to the Houston defense, of course.
“But it’s the National Football League and when you turn the ball over three times it’s hard to come back from that, especially when you are giving away points as well, and so it’s very critical for us. We went into the half, they were up by nine. We came out and were able to create a drive and just kind of halted towards the end and had to settle for three. And I feel like that kind of bit us as well.”
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Matthew Stafford threw a pick-six to the T.J. Watt for Houston’s first points. After the Lions opened the scoring, the defense forced a Houston punt and the Lions started from their 25. With the Texans rushing, Stafford tried to throw a quick pass to fullback Jason Cabinda that Watt snatched out of the air and easily returned.
“It’s not the play call,” said Stafford, who has thrown three pick-sixes this season. “I probably could have just kept progressing through and get to somebody else. Thought we out-flanked them in the flat quickly and he just made a great play.
“Obviously, still can’t do that, but he’s a great player and has done that quite a few times so, yeah. That’s what he’s great at. Have to avoid it.”
On the next play from scrimmage, Jonathan Williams fumbled, which the Texans recovered at the Detroit 30 and turned into a 13-7 lead three plays later. On the Lions’ next drive, they reached the Houston 27 before Kerryon Johnson lost a fumble.
What was perhaps most disappointing was that all this came against the NFL’s 31st-ranked defense, and the team with the fewest takeaways this season.
“If you watched this game, you seen us stop ourselves,” Peterson said. “We’ve just got to do better as a running back and there’s no one hurting more than J-Will and Kerryon right now. Not only because they put the ball on the turf, but because it was critical situations.”
Contact Carlos Monarrez at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions’ Adrian Peterson: You saw us stop ourselves on offense