LIONS 26, PATRIOTS 10: Tom E. Curran's Best and Worst
DETROIT -- Here are five quick-hitting takeaways from the Patriots' one-sided loss to the Lions Sunday night . . .
AND WINNER OF THE WORST RUN DEFENSE GOES TO...
The Lions came into Sunday as the worst-ranked run defense in football based on yards allowed per game. They were second-worst in yards allowed per carry. Know that hold-my-beer meme . . . ? The Patriots allowed the Lions to run at will in the first half, going into the locker room down 13-3 at the break. Detroit rushed for 81 yards on 15 carries, a 5.4 yards-per-carry average through two quarters. The Patriots came into the game allowing 4.7 yards per carry (25th in football) and it only got worse. They finished having allowed 159 yards on the ground, an average of 4.8 yards per carry.
ZERO TRACTION IN TRENCHES
If tough football teams are defined by their ability to run the ball and stop the run, the Patriots can't be considered a tough team at the moment. They came into the game averaging 3.7 yards per carry (25th in football) and it was more of the same in the first half against the Lions. They picked up just 15 yards on eight carries (1.9 yards per attempt), and seven of those carries -- resulting in 10 yards total -- belonged to Sony Michel. This looked like it should have been a breakout game for the rookie first-round pick, but he showed no burst and an inability to create yards on his own. His most glaringly bad carry of the first 30 minutes of Sunday night came with the Patriots running their two-minute drill and deep in Lions territory. Facing a third-and-one, Tom Brady opted to snap it quick, handing to Michel who had no chance at positive yardage. The Patriots lost two and ended up kicking a field goal.
MOVEMENT IN THE SECONDARY
With both Patrick Chung and Eric Rowe out, the Patriots started the game with Duron Harmon and Devin McCourty as their safeties. At corner, they went with Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty. Jonathan Jones was the first nickel back on the field. To start Detroit's third drive, rookie JC Jackson came onto the field for Jason McCourty. On his fourth play, the Lions ran a flea-flicker that drew a Jackson hold. He didn't see much action the remainder of the game. The Lions kicked a field goal to finish that drive and take a 13-0 lead. Cyrus Jones saw work on third downs as a slot defender, manning the second-level spot often taken by Chung defensively.
BRADY FRUSTRATION EVIDENT
Tom Brady completed a beauty of a touchdown pass to James White in the third quarter -- stepping up to avoid the rush and throwing to open space with White blanketed by a defender -- but those moments of brilliance were short-lived at Ford Field. More common, signs of frustration from the Patriots quarterback, such as when Brady had to call timeout early in the third quarter on a first-down snap with the Patriots driving or when Michel dropped a second-down pass late in the same quarter. Against one of the worst defenses in football through two weeks, Brady must have felt like he had to be perfect. He didn't crack 100 yards passing until there were 12 minutes left in the game.
YOUNG DEFENDERS' BRIEF MOMENTS OF COMPETENCY
Players often say plays will come in bunches. It didn't happen for the Patriots defense nearly often enough on Sunday night, but briefly, at the start of the the third quarter, that unit caught a gust of momentum. Deatrich Wise stuffed LeGarrette Blount for a loss of one and on the following play, Ja'Whaun Bentley picked a Matthew Stafford pass thrown deep down the middle of the field. That led to the drive capped by Brady's touchdown pass to White. Wise later had a sack, giving him 2.5 on the season.