Detroit Lions Special Teams Blow Game

By Tina Musial

The Detroit Lions special teams imploded. It is almost a guarantee that there will be some heads rolling in the locker room after their embarrassing outing on Sunday versus the Minnesota Vikings. The kick return – the very FIRST kick return of the game is returned 105 yards for a touchdown. Talk about buzzkill for the fans! Half of them weren’t even in their seats yet and when they got there, a score was already up.  What? They scored already? There isn’t even any time off the clock…?

The Lions special team players missed tackles. And missed more tackles. And Percy Harvin just ran it in for the score without a Lion even giving him a challenge. Did the Lions even realize the game started?

Then, if it wasn’t bad enough, when the Lions punted the ball later on in the first half, the Vikings returned it AGAIN. This time they only had 77 yards on the return though. The Lions had no less than six missed tackles. Six. Half of the team on the field! Were they really going to make the punter tackle the ball carrier since they everyone else who was supposed to catch him missed? Completely missed.

With those two huge plays, the Lions rank FIRST in something. Their special teams have allowed the most 60+ yard gains against them this season with 7. Seven times the opposing team has been able to run more than 60 yards with the ball and score a touchdown. 42 points against the special teams.

There should be some serious tackling drills going on in practice this week in Allen Park. Danny Crossman, the special teams coach, should be having his guys do nothing but tackling or his job could be in jeopardy real soon. If it weren’t for his special teams allowing those two touchdowns to be returned – the ONLY touchdowns by the Vikings – then it would have been a tie ball game.

Christian Ponder didn’t have any touchdown passes. But when your special teams can get 70+ yard plays without them, you don’t need to worry about it. The Vikings only other points came from two field goals.

 Matthew Stafford at least got one touchdown in what turned out to be another field goal happy Sunday. He held the ball and leaped over the mass of bodies in what was narrowly the ball crossing the plane of the endzone.

Next week is a BYE week for the Lions. This is what they need to practice for the next two weeks:

– Block drills. Tackle Drills. Repeat.
– Give Jason Hanson a cookie.
– Watch game tape from the Vikings debacle.
– Block drills. Tackle drills. Repeat some more.

Everybody has an off game once in awhile, but this makes four straight for the special teams. Seven plays over 60 yards in just four games is inexcusable. There are no more excuses. This is the NFL and missed tackles are not supposed to happen. That is for high school and college players. Big plays need to happen in favor of the Lions in order to turn this season around and keep it from spiraling more out of control than what it already is.

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