What it means: If you’re the Lions, you probably can’t figure out exactly what happened Sunday against Tampa Bay. Matthew Stafford threw four interceptions, including the one to seal the game that bounced off Calvin Johnson’s hands and into the hands of Johnthan Banks. Despite the fact that the Lions tried over and over to give this game away, Tampa Bay kept giving Detroit chances.
But the Lions could not convert on any of them, and it gives Detroit a really bad loss in a situation where the Lions had an opportunity to give themselves distance in the NFC North. Instead, Detroit is now in a situation where it is in the midst of a three-way battle in the division. If the Lions miss the playoffs, they will likely look back at this game and last week's loss to Pittsburgh as the reasons why.
All of this with division rival Green Bay coming to town in four days in a game that seems absolutely crucial for the Lions' postseason chances at this point.
Stock watch: Rising: Willie Young. The defensive end has been quite vocal in recent weeks about penalties against defensive linemen for hitting quarterbacks. He played extremely well Sunday, though, coming up with a key sack of Mike Glennon in the fourth quarter to force a field goal that Rian Lindell missed. Ziggy Ansah joined him in getting good pressure as the rookie had two sacks in his first game back from an ankle injury. Falling: Chris Houston. The cornerback struggled Sunday, giving up an 85-yard touchdown reception to Tiquan Underwood and then leaving the game with an ankle injury. The play summed up most of Detroit’s cornerback play Sunday. The Lions struggled when left in single coverage, allowing Glennon to pick them apart.
Burleson’s return: Nate Burleson played in his first game in two months Sunday and continued as if he was never injured. Burleson had seven catches for 77 yards and a touchdown against the Buccaneers, but looked fresh and was a guy the Lions could use in critical spots throughout the game, including on third down.
What’s next: The Lions next play Thursday against Green Bay in the annual Thanksgiving Day game.