Detroit Lions found themselves on the wrong side of the turnover battle in 26-24 loss to Bears
It’s one of the main headlines that can be attached to the 2012 season. The Detroit Lions couldn’t get out of their own way a lot of the time and finish the season with a minus-16 turnover differential.
This time last season the Detroit Lions were getting ready for their first playoff game in 12 years.
Oh, how things have changed over these last 12 months.
After their eighth consecutive loss to end the season Sunday vs. the Chicago Bears, the Lions are instead getting ready for a top-five draft pick after concluding one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory with a 26-24 loss.
"When the story of the season is written, it's going to say 4-12 and nobody's happy with that – players, coaches, front office, ownership, everybody," said Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz.
"Everybody's in the same boat with that (mindset). But we're all focused on getting that right. There's nobody happy with that."
In what seems like the same sad story playing itself out over and over these last two months, the Lions (4-12) were again on the wrong side of the turnover battle and failed to make enough plays to give themselves a chance to win a close game.
The Bears were gift-wrapped starting field position at the Lions 24-, 23-, 13- and 10- yard lines following three Lions fumbles and an interception.
"We got the ball on the ground a couple times and just the ball bounced into their arms," said quarterback Matthew Stafford. "And when it was fumbled for us, they did a great job of jumping on it.
"I thought our defense did a good job when there were turnovers, holding them to three points. We still had a chance there at the end to win the game."
They did, indeed, after the defense forced a Chicago Bears punt with 4:47 left in the game and the Lions trailing 26-24.
The offense went three-and-out, though, and were forced to give the ball right back to the Bears with 3:40 remaining.
"We've just got to make plays," said Stafford. "That's the difference between a successful season and one that's unsuccessful is winning those close games."
In an all-too-familiar script, the Lions turned the ball over four times, which the Bears turned into 16 points.
There are few teams in the NFL who can still win playing football that way and as depleted as the Lions are on both sides of the ball, they aren't one of them.
So in a game as close as Sunday's, turnovers ultimately proved to be the difference.
It's one of the main headlines that can be attached to the 2012 season: the Detroit Lions couldn't get out of their own way a lot of the time and finished the season with a minus-16 turnover differential.
"We know ourselves (that) the more and more you turn the ball over, the less and less chance you have to win," said wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
"That's something that we have to put on our own shoulders as an offense. When the ball does hit the ground, get on it, and we just can't have those."
Matthew Stafford broke out of his two-game funk with a three-touchdown effort in the loss, but failed to reach 5,000 yards for a second consecutive season.
He completed 24-of-42 passes for 272 yards with one interception to go along with the touchdowns. He finished 33 yards short of 5,000.
His second-quarter touchdown pass to receiver Kris Durham was his first over the team's previous 11 quarters.
Stafford's favorite target was Calvin Johnson (no surprise), who finished just short in his pursuit of 2,000 yards on the season with five catches for 72 yards.
Johnson ends the season with 122 catches for 1,964 yards and five touchdowns.