NFC North: Will Herring
December, 4, 2011
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
A few thoughts on a closer-than-expected game at the Superdome:
What it means: The Detroit Lions have now lost five of their last seven games, all to teams in the thick of the NFC playoff hunt, to fall to 7-5. Sunday night's loss clinched the NFC North for the Green Bay Packers and left the Lions in the seventh seed of the NFC's six-team playoff field.
Costly penalties: Ndamukong Suh's teammates didn't seem to get the message sent by his two-game suspension. They had at least three inexcusable post-whistle personal fouls. Receiver Titus Young cost his team a goal-line opportunity and forced it to settle for a field goal. Kick returner Stefan Logan threw the ball at the Saints' Will Herring after a return, and tight end Brandon Pettigrew was penalized for trying to kick and trip Saints safety Roman Harper. That was 45 lost yards right there. Scrutiny will increasingly turn to Lions coach Jim Schwartz to get this team under control.
StaffordWatch: Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford put together a whale of a game, completing 31 of 44 passes for 408 yards and did not throw an interception until the Lions were in desperation mode late in the fourth quarter. It's probably not a coincidence that Stafford wasn't wearing gloves to protect a fractured right index finger. He had thrown nine interceptions in three previous games while wearing the gloves.
Undermanned: The Lions couldn't have been too upset with the way their defense played without Suh, safety Louis Delmas and cornerback Chris Houston. They actually held the Saints 10 points below their average for home games this season.
What's next: The Lions will host the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday at Ford Field.