But officials didn’t see it that way, on the field or in the booth. And after Sunday’s 24 12 loss to the Denver Broncos, the only thing obvious about the Detroit Lions is that three games into their season it’s bordering on disaster.
Stafford lost three turnovers Sunday and Darius Slay gave up two long pass plays as the Broncos beat the Lions, 24 12, in a defensive battle at Ford Field.
The Lions are 0 3 for the first time since 2010, with no end to their rough start in sight. cheap nfl jerseys They play the defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks next Monday night in Seattle, then return home on a short week to face the hottest team in the conference, the undefeated Arizona Cardinals.
Since 1990, just three teams have made the playoffs after starting 0 3 and none have gone on to reach the Super Bowl.
“We do have 13 games left,” Caldwell said. “They’re not handing out any trophies after three games and you can’t be eliminated after three games. And I know there’s all the stats that are out there about who does what at 0 3. I don’t care about all that stuff. What I care about is trying to get better, and I thought we made a little headway.”
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The Lions made some headway Sunday, rediscovering their stingy run defense and keeping Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ passing game largely in check outside of those two big plays.
But once again they had far too many penalties (nine for 75 yards), glaring special teams breakdowns and those three turnovers by Stafford, two of which came in the fourth quarter and led to 10 Broncos points.
The most costly of Stafford’s giveaways was also the most debatable, a fumble midway through the fourth quarter when he was hit on pass attempt by Shaquil Barrett.
Replays appeared to show Stafford’s arm moving forward on the play, but game officials ruled it a fumble on the field and their colleagues in the replay booth upheld the call on review.
“I felt like I was trying to throw it to Ameer (Abdullah),” Stafford said. “But we never got a replay in the stadium. I didn’t see that I didn’t get to check it out.”
Stafford said one official told him “they got it confirmed as a fumble upstairs,” but he seemed flummoxed by the call after the game.
“However that happens, I don’t know,” Stafford said. “Quite a few (calls were) overturned today, so it was interesting.”
Asked if he thought Stafford’s arm was moving forward on the play, Caldwell said, “Sure I did.”
“They didn’t think it did, evidently,” Caldwell said. “Pretty obvious to me.
The Broncos led, 14 12, at the time of the fumble, which Malik Jackson recovered near midfield, and extended their lead to five points five plays later on Brandon McManus’ 48 yard field goal.
McManus originally missed a 53 yard field goal to end the drive, but the Lions were called for illegal formation for lining up seven players on one side of center to give the Broncos a re kick.
Slay appeared to move up to the line of scrimmage late before the snap.
The Lions drove into Broncos territory again on their next possession, but David Bruton made a one handed interception on a third and 12 pass intended for Calvin Johnson.
Emmanuel Sanders beat Slay deep for a 34 yard pass two plays later, and Manning capped the drive with an 11 yard touchdown pass to Owen Daniels on third and 6.
Slay, who boasted this week that he hoped to intercept a Manning pass and then ask the Broncos quarterback for his autograph, also gave up a long touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas at the end of the first half.
Thomas ran past Slay on fourth and 1 when the Lions cornerback was playing for an underneath route. Thomas outjumped Slay for the underthrown pass and cruised into the end zone to give Denver a 14 6 halftime lead.
“Those two (long pass) plays are going to stick out, they’re going to jump out at you,” Caldwell said. “But like I said, we got a little bit better pass rush, maybe that doesn’t happen. There’s a lot of other things that go into it. I’m not just going to blame him.”
No, the Lions also struggled to run the ball for a third straight game (19 carries, 28 yards), got inconsistent play from their offensive line (four sacks) and had an extra point blocked on their only first half touchdown.