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Lions 26, Patriots 10: 10 quick thoughts from brutal road loss

Ryan Hannable
September 23, 2018 - 11:10 pm
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DETROIT — Woof.

After falling to the Jaguars last week in Jacksonville, the Patriots fell to the Lions 26-10 on the road Sunday night. It was one of the worst performances in a long time for the Patriots, who seemed to lack urgency and energy for most of the night. 

The Lions offense had its way with the Patriots defense, finishing with 414 yards of total offense.

New England will need to get things back on track quick, as the undefeated Dolphins come to Gillette Stadium next week.

Here are 10 quick thoughts from the game.

Related: Watch every Patriots game season this season with fuboTV -- click to start free trial now

1. This one felt worse than last week against the Jaguars. The Patriots lacked energy on both sides of the ball from the start and the Lions made them pay. This is troublesome as it was a major focus of the week after following behind by double-digits to the Jaguars on the road last Sunday. Not only was it a lack of talent -- missing some key players -- it was the lack of focus and emotion as well. There were also some bad mental mistakes. The Patriots lined up with 12 players on defense in the first half and in the second half Tom Brady threw a post when no one ran the route and was flagged for intentional grounding.

2. Last Monday, Brady spoke of how he wanted more urgency and competitiveness at the start of the game, and he didn’t get it. The Patriots offense went three-and-out on the first three possessions of the game. The biggest issue there was Rob Gronkowski wasn’t targeted once despite not being double-covered. The team team trailed 13-0, its second straight double-digit deficit on the road. No matter who the opponent is, it's very hard to come back from double digits away from home.

3. Matt Patricia knows the Patriots defense well, so he knows the lack of athleticism and he took full advantage of it. The lack of speed at linebacker was apparent once again and it led to several big plays for the Detroit offense. Dont'a Hightower still doesn't look right to open the season and it's starting to get to the point where he's had enough time to work some of the rust off after missing the majority of the season last year.

4. The Patriots tried a number of different things on defense, including multiple players at cornerback. Jason McCourty started in place of Eric Rowe, but then midway through the first half was subbed out for J.C. Jackson, who then committed a penalty, and McCourty re-entered. Jonathan Jones was replaced by Keion Crossen, but then after a completion, Jones came back in. The unit is struggling to find consistency at the cornerback spot behind Stephon Gilmore, as no one has stepped up as the No. 2 cornerback.

5. There did appear to be some momentum to open the second half when Ja'Whaun Bentley picked off Matthew Stafford, but the defense couldn't keep it going as Stafford found Marvin Jones for a long touchdown a bit later, which swung all the momentum back in the Lions' direction. A lack of consistency has been a major issue for the defense this season.

6. Third-down play on both sides of the ball continues to be an issue. On offense, it’s clear Brady is missing his favorite target in Julian Edelman, who will return from his suspension in Week 5. On defense, it’s killing a lot of momentum, especially in third-and-long situations. This is an area that certainly needs to be cleaned up.

7. After being targeted or getting the ball on 12 of 13 plays last week against the Jaguars, the Patriots once again tried to get Sony Michel going and it didn’t seem to work. The rookie running back still seems to be getting his legs under him after missing most of the summer. He doesn’t seem to have the speed yet that he showed in college.

8. Cyrus Jones played sparingly, but it seemed he was used almost as a spy on the Lions backs out of the backfield. This could be a short-term thing with the loss of Patrick Chung, but could also be something the Patriots brought him back to do.

9. Rex Burkhead left the game in the second half and was being evaluated for a neck injury. This explains the reliance on Michel, but the Patriots simply don't have any threat on the ground. Burkhead has been very prone over the course of his career, and the team did nothing to replace Jeremy Hill when he was lost for the season with a torn ACL in Week 1.

10. Despite being inactive, wide receiver Josh Gordon was on the sideline and involved in the game. He stood next to wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea for the majority of the contest and was in the receivers huddle on the sideline in between series. It's all part of the integration process for the newly acquired wide out. He will likely do more and more this week and has a chance to make his debut next week against the Dolphins, as the Patriots desperately need an outside threat.

Kerryon Johnson is the first Lions running back to eclipse 100 yards rushing in a game since Thanksgiving 2013.

Related: 49ers fear Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL

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