Lions know winning is the way to get respect back

Lions know winning is the way to get respect back

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) The Detroit Lions have opened themselves up to being criticized, failing to meet relatively high expectations so far.

Since barely beating St. Louis in Week 1, Detroit has dropped three straight games.

That isn't what anybody envisioned.

``You're a great team one week and the worst in the league the next,'' quarterback Matthew Stafford said Wednesday. ``That's the way the NFL is and that's why you can't get too high or too low. We started 5-0 last year, we had to battle our way to 10-6 to get into the playoffs.

``It's a humbling business.''

The Lions began the season with high hopes, and not just from within their locker room. Most of their players are back from last year's team that broke the franchise's 11-season playoffs drought.

Detroit hasn't been able to repeat its formula for success from 2011.

Stafford and Calvin Johnson haven't connected on one touchdown - they had eight together through four games a year ago - and Detroit's defensive front isn't harassing QBs to help its secondary as it did early last season.

To make matters worse for the Lions, they're the first NFL team since at least 1940 to allow teams to score on a kickoff and punt return in consecutive games.

And, it's not going to get any easier.

Detroit (1-3) will have a hard time avoiding a five-game skid with two tough road games coming up against teams that are tied for the lead in their divisions: Philadelphia (3-2) on Sunday and Chicago (4-1) eight nights later on Monday Night Football.

Since a strong start last season, the Lions have lost 10 of 16 games, including an NFC wild-card game at New Orleans.

Defensive end Cliff Avril said it is way too early to write off the team.

``So much can change in the next 12 games, for us especially,'' Avril said. ``We feel like we have a great team. We feel like we can go do some things - proving to the league and everybody else that thinks negative of us wrong.''

In a Pro Football Weekly report earlier this week, an anonymous general manager and a person described as a talent evaluator ripped the Lions on both sides of the ball, saying the offense is one-dimensional and Ndamukong Suh is overrated, and said the front office has taken too many chances on players with off-the-field issues.

``That fired me up,'' center Dominic Raiola said. ``Taking a shot at the Lions' organization, that ain't right.''

The Lions know the only way to quiet the critics is to win.

``That's the only thing that we're judged on,'' coach Jim Schwartz said.

Detroit's coaches and players, though, got a bit of perspective about how important wins and losses are in life.

Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, who lost all four limbs in Afghanistan, watched practice from a terrace overlooking the indoor practice field. Mills went to the field level after the practice and told stories and cracked jokes while surrounded by several players, including safety Louis Delmas, who was checking out his motorized wheelchair.

``I'll let you take it for a spin,'' Mills told Delmas.

Offensive tackle Jeff Backus was in awe with Mills' attitude, saying he and other soldier are true heroes - not professional athletes.

``It was inspirational to see what he has gone through and to still have his mentality,'' Backus said. ``To serve your country and lose all your limbs and to still be upbeat, it's truly amazing.''


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3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars


3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

The Washington Capitals had not beaten the Dallas Stars at home since 2006, Alex Ovechkin's second season in the NHL. That streak ended on Tuesday in a 4-3 Caps win.

Here's how the Caps were finally able to down Dallas in Washington.

Oshie still hot

After going 19 straight games without a goal, T.J. Oshie has been red-hot of late with four goals in his last four games. He scored Washington’s first goal in what would become a three-goal period for the Caps as they battled back from a 1-0 deficit into a 3-3 tie through 40 minutes. Oshie also added an assist as he won a power play faceoff that John Carlson fed to Alex Ovechkin for the goal.


Ovechkin victimizing his favorite target

You knew Ovechkin would score given he was playing against one of his favorite targets. With his second period goal, Ovechkin now has 22 goals against Kari Lehtonen in his career, tied with Henrik Lundqvist for the most goals he has scored on any netminder. Lehtonen has not been in the Eastern Conference since the 2008-09 season. When he goes to sleep at night, Ovechkin is who he sees in his nightmares.

The Carlson-Klingberg duel

Carlson and John Klingberg entered Tuesday’s game each with 59 points, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. Carlson downplayed the matchup both before and after the game, but it was clear that both players were playing at another level all game long. While both players tallied two points on the night, you have to give the win to Carlson as he had the most significant point, a game-winning goal in the third period.


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Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report


Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report

Free agent pass rusher Pernell McPhee visited the Redskins on Monday, and by Tuesday night a report emerged that Washington offered the veteran outside linebacker a contract.

Last week, Trent Murphy signed with the Buffalo Bills and things remain uncertain between the Redskins and Junior Galette. That means the organization has a need for an edge rushing linebacker, and that's exactly the role McPhee can play. 

A 29-year-old that played the last three seasons with the Bears, McPhee posted 14 sacks while in Chicago. Prior to his time with the Bears, McPhee was a solid contributor on some good Ravens teams. 


His best season in Baltimore came in 2014 when he posted 7.5 sacks. That's also the last season McPhee played a full 16 game schedule. He's missed 12 games over the last three years in Chicago. 

McPhee could provide the Redskins with solid veteran depth at outside linebacker, and he's also considered a plus defender against the run. With Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith cemented as the starting outside linebackers, if signed, McPhee would pair up with Ryan Anderson on Washington's second unit. At 6-foot-2 and 275 lbs., McPhee carries more weight on his frame than either Kerrigan or Smith. 

Pro Football Focus gave McPhee a strong grade for the 2017 season. He notched a +11.5 and ranked 13th out of 46 outside linebackers graded. For comparison, Broncos star Von Miller ranked 1st at +57, Kerrigan ranked 8th at +22.9 and Galette ranked 10th at +16.2.

It's unclear what a move for McPhee would mean between the Redskins and Galette, but it's hard to imagine it helps.

Free agent Johnathan Hankins also visited Washington on Monday, and while he plays an interior defensive line position different from McPhee, it's also unclear what this offer would do to any negotiations between the Redskins and Hankins. 

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