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Lions defense awful in loss to Chargers

In the second quarter of their game on Sunday afternoon at Qualcomm Stadium, the Detroit Lions were leading 21-3 over the San Diego Chargers and appeared poised to open the 2015 National Football League regular season with a nice road win. Unfortunately, Detroit’s defense had other ideas.

The Lions played horribly from there on out, giving up 30 consecutive points before scoring a touchdown in garbage time to make the final score 33-28. It was exactly the kind of loss that a team hoping to snag one of the two NFC wild cards can’t afford to have. Sure, the Chargers are a good team and will be in the hunt for a postseason spot in their own right, but blowing 18-point leads in a league this competitive will give you a seat at the loser’s table.

Detroit was without star inside linebacker DeAndre Levy, but that is no excuse for the poor tackling and coverage we saw throughout the day. The secondary should forfeit its collective paycheck after the debacle it put forth against Philip Rivers, who sliced and diced his way through the Lions for 404 yards on 35-of-42 passing with a pair of touchdowns. Rivers was tremendous save two interceptions throughout the afternoon, and his favorite target was Keenan Allen.

Allen, a third-year receiver out of the University of California, caught a team-record 15 passes for 166 yards, while reserve tight end Lardarius Green and newcomer Steve Johnson each caught a touchdown. The only bright spot of the day for Detroit’s defense was stopping the run. San Diego could only muster 95 yards on 30 carries, with rookie Melvin Gordon and veteran Danny Woodhead getting the bulk of the carries.

While many Lions fans will opine about not having Levy, the reality is San Diego was without future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates, and it still eclipsed the 30-point barrier. Detroit was beaten consistently in the second half, with Rivers throwing to open receivers all across the field. All told, the Lions allowed 483 yards of total offense and the Chargers converted on 6-0f-11 third downs. It was pathetic, and it leaves Detroit in a tough position.

The Lions next two games will be on the road against the much-improved Minnesota Vikings before they finally open up at home against the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football. If Detroit does not tighten up its defense, there is a good chance it will be staring at an 0-3 hole, with plenty of difficult games still on the schedule including a pair of contests against the Green Bay Packers.

Detroit needs Levy back in the worst way. It also needs a consistent pass rush and a secondary willing to stay with its men for more than two seconds.

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