It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why the Lions were 3-13-1 last season.
Detroit’s defense gave up the second-most yardage in the NFL (6,456), and it gave up the second-most points (467).
Only the New York Jets were worse in both categories.
While looking through the list of losses Detroit had in 2021, which were the team’s three worst defensive performances?
1.) Seahawks 51, Lions 29
Date: January 2, 2022
Venue: Lumen Field
The game started out on a good note for Detroit’s defense, as it was able to force a three-and-out on Seattle’s first offensive series.
It was all downhill from there, though, as the 5-10 Seahawks found an offense it didn’t know it had.
On the following possession, Seattle put together a drive, and two things stood out:
1.) Quarterback Russell Wilson was dictating the flow of the game, as Detroit was not getting much pressure.
2.) Running back Rashaad Penny started breaking free.
Penny continued grinding, and by the end of the first quarter, he had rushed for 74 yards on seven carries (10.6 avg. yards per carry).
It’s like Detroit’s defense had forgotten how to tackle.
Wilson kept it going at the beginning of the second quarter, hitting a 58-yard pass play. And, on the next play, Penny darted into the end zone from six yards out.
That wasn’t it.
On the next drive, Wilson threw another 28-yard completion, and on the following possession, Penny gashed Detroit for a 37-yard run.
Big plays were all over the place for Seattle, as it took a commanding 31-7 lead.
2.) Eagles 44, Lions 6
Date: October 31, 2021
Venue: Ford Field
Once again, the defense began by forcing a three-and-out, as the Lions’ Charles Harris flushed Eagles QB Jalen Hurts out of the pocket and forced an incompletion.
Everything went south from there.
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On the next drive, the Eagles ran on eight-of-11 plays and established the tempo. The drive ended with a touchdown, putting the Eagles up, 7-0, and they never looked back.
The following possession, it was back to the ground again on five-of-six plays, and the Eagles added a field goal to go up 10-0.
Running back Boston Scott ripped off a 19-yard scamper, and Hurts added runs of 12 and 14 yards.
With firm control of the line of scrimmage and the scoreboard, the Eagles went to halftime up, 17-0.
It got worse in the second half, as many empty blue stadium seats could be seen on the kickoff to start the third quarter.
Hurts picked up where he left off, with another 20-yard run, on a critical third down.
The Eagles ran the ball on 10-of-11 plays, and eventually ran it right into the end zone to go up 24-0.
Hurts added another 21-yard run on the next drive, and the Eagles ran the ball on seven-of-10 plays, capping off the series with another touchdown.
Philadelphia was up 31-0, and after skipping ahead a few pages in this painful storyline, the Lions didn’t live happily ever after.
3.) 49ers 41, Lions 33
Date: September 12, 2021
Venue: Ford Field
After QB Jimmy Garoppolo fumbled the first snap from center and Detroit recovered, San Francisco’s offense settled down.
On their next drive, the 49ers were able to establish a tempo, and they ran on four-of-seven plays before finding the end zone.
Detroit responded with a touchdown of its own before Garoppolo hit receiver Deebo Samuel for 29 yards. A couple plays later, San Francisco RB Elijah Mitchell ran for a 38-yard score.
Garoppolo hit Samuel for another 23-yard gain on the next possession, before the 49ers eventually found the end zone again. It put them up, 21-10.
After San Francisco added a defensive touchdown and a field goal, it took a convincing 31-10 lead into the half.
The third quarter began with Garoppolo finding tight end George Kittle for 38 yards. However, that drive ended in a missed field-goal attempt.
However, on the very next drive Garoppolo found Samuel for a 79-yard touchdown.
That was the storyline of this one. It was a game of giving up big plays for Detroit’s defense and San Francisco moving the ball at will.
Now you may ask: Are there any takeaways from these three games?
Detroit’s defense got gashed for a lot of big plays, the pass rush was practically non-existent and the run defense was even worse.