- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Detroit Lions reporter
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Burleson retold a story Monday afternoon on Detroit Sports 105.1 about what had happened to him earlier in the day. He was helping out some homeless people, giving them some food.
Then, someone came up to him and started criticizing.
“It was a happy moment, you see smiles on people’s faces, giving hugs and taking pictures,” Burleson said. “And one guy who was there getting some food said, ‘Man, you guys are sorry. Same old Lions.’“
It’s a moniker the Lions have often said they are trying to overcome this season. They don’t want to be the same Lions team as the ones in the past; the ones known as much for losing and at best mediocrity and winning one playoff game in 55 years than anything else.
But here Detroit goes again.
Be it penalties or run defense or fourth-quarter failures or turnover after turnover after turnover, the Lions have put themselves in odd positions again and again this season. Every time this team appears to take a step forward, the Lions immediately regress back to their mean.
So it’s why Burleson seemed to understand his heckler’s issue when he retold the story of being harassed while helping the homeless on Monday. He’s just as frustrated as everyone else.
“Now immediately I respond, because I love what I do and the guys I do it with, and I respond by sticking up for my team, but deep down inside, I understood exactly where he was coming from,” Burleson said on 105.1. “I’m not surprised. I told him that.
"I said, ‘Look, I get it. You’ve been watching this team for years. So when we make mistakes like that, the first thing you think is, yeah, same old sorry Lions. They’re continuing to shoot themselves in the foot when it seems as if they’ve got the game won.’"
That, to an extent, happened again Sunday when Detroit took a 14-0 lead in the third quarter against Philadelphia in a snowstorm where the Eagles couldn’t move the ball. Then Philadelphia scored 34 points in the second half and beat the Lions handily.
It’s the third time in four games Detroit has lost a fourth-quarter lead and it is something that is quite concerning for the Lions altogether. Why can’t they finish? Why do they continue to make silly mistakes -- even in wins.
It has been an issue all season long and has not shown signs of disappearing anytime soon. And with three games left, the chance to rectify this is starting to run out.
“If we want to be the team we need to be, then we’re going to have to learn how to put games away. Got to learn how to finish,” Burleson said. “We can’t be the tale of two halves. We can’t either start bad and make a heroic comeback or start great and then falter at the end.
“We’re going to have to put that together and play four quarters well. And that’s what the Eagles did and it’s what we didn’t do. But at the end of the day, we’re still in a great position.”
Whether Detroit remains in that position or not -- and in the playoff picture or not -- will largely depend on whether the Lions can actually play a full game and no longer be those same old Lions that Burleson heard about Monday afternoon.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Nate Burleson was trying to do a good deed Monday in downtown Detroit. Along the way, he also heard all about the issues of his football team, the Detroit Lions.