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Looking back at the Lions' loss to the Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles 34, Lions 20

Strategy: Heavy snowfall forced the Lions to alter their game plan Sunday, as the pass-happy offense tried to use its big offensive line to pound the Eagles with the running game. The Lions ran the ball more than they passed it but they still used three-receiver sets and took shots down the field, as they will likely do indoors on Monday night. The Lions, who run a 4-3 base defense, relied on a four-man rush to generate pressure, especially with a pair of dominant interior pass rushers pushing the pocket up the middle. They also packed the box with an extra defender to stop the run, leaving opportunities for the Eagles to throw downfield against single-safety looks.

Personnel: The Lions have a strong-armed quarterback in Matthew Stafford and the NFL's most dangerous wide receiver in Calvin Johnson, who is big, fast and nearly impossible to shut down. Stafford also has other weapons in wide receiver Nate Burleson and running backs Joique Belland Reggie Bush, though Bush did not play Sunday. On defense, the Lions have a pair of defensive tackles in Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley who, despite an off game against the Eagles, could pose major problems for the interior of the Ravens offensive line. FormerHouston Texans free safety Glover Quin has been a nice addition and strong safety Louis Delmas is actually healthy, but Detroit's cornerbacks are a major problem for them.

What went right: The Lions shut down the Eagles offense for much of the first half and their penetrating defensive front did not give running back LeSean McCoy much running room. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles had an interception, his first of the season, and just one completion at halftime. Return specialist Jeremy Ross had a monster game, totaling 243 return yards and scoring on both a kickoff return and a punt return. Bell had success running the ball early, though it did not last.

What went wrong: The snow beat the Lions as much as the Eagles did. More than six inches of snow covered the field and visibility was low. Stafford's passes fluttered in the air — if he was even able to field the snap. He bobbled five, losing one of them, and Bell also coughed up two fumbles. The weather grounded the Lions' vertical passing attack, though the Eagles also deserve credit for holding Stafford to 148 yards passing and Johnson to 49 yards receiving. The Eagles had better luck throwing down field, as Foles connected on a couple of long passing plays. But what really undid the Lions was their run defense, which was ranked first in the NFL entering the game. After running in place for much of the game, McCoy broke out for 148 yards and two long touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The Eagles finished with 299 yards on the ground, the majority between the tackles.

Turning point: With the Eagles trailing, 14-6, early in the fourth quarter, McCoy took over the game. He hurdled Delmas and broke another tackle on his way to the end zone on a 40-yard run. And after the Lions reclaimed the lead with a kickoff-return touchdown by Ross, McCoy bolted between the tackles for a 57-yard score and the Eagles took the lead for good.

X-factor:Bell is a respectable back who can do a little bit of everything, but he is no Bush. The electric dual-threat back did not play after re-aggravating an ankle injury in warmups and his status for Monday night is in doubt. But if Bush plays, he will pose major matchup problems for the Ravens, who might not be able to cover him with any of their linebackers or safeties. His presence underneath opens things up for Johnson and vice versa, putting defenses in pickle.

 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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