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Stock Watch: Defense struggles in loss at Lions

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For the second straight week the Patriots went on the road and struggled on both sides of the ball.

This time New England fell 26-10 to the Lions on Sunday Night Football, dropping the Patriots to 1-2 on the season. Bill Belichick’s squad has its first September losing streak since 2012 and just its second since 2001.

Tom Brady’s offense couldn’t get anything going early against a Detroit defense that came in ranked among the worst in the game, New England going three-and-out on its first three possessions.

Meanwhile, Matthew Stafford led a Lions offense that scored on each of its first three possessions to take a 13-3 lead into halftime on the way to victory.

The Patriots passing game was inconsistent. The run game was almost nonexistent. The run defense was porous and the pass defense gave up too many timely plays.

Overall Detroit churned out 414 yards of total offense, 25 first downs and dominated time of possession at 39:15. New England had just two third-down conversions and a mere 209 total yards.

In the end, first-year Lions head coach Matt Patricia picked up his first-career win by beating his former team and former boss, Belichick.

Not surprisingly, Belichick had little to say after the loss that was positive in nature.

“The Lions did everything a lot better than we did tonight,” Belichick said. “We just didn’t do anything well enough to give ourselves a chance to win, similar to last week. We’re just going to have to work ourselves out of it. Obviously we have a lot of work to do.

“I think they clearly outplayed us and out-coached us today.”

As the media questioned Belichick on various areas of his team that have been less than stellar in recent weeks, the coach responded in a similar way each time.”

“We need to do everything better. None of it has been good enough,” Belichick said.

Before moving on to next Sunday’s return home to Gillette Stadium to face the 3-0 Dolphins, here’s a look at some of the few personnel highs and significant lows from another road loss.

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Kick returns – Though it never injected any real life into the offense, Cordarrelle Patterson had his best game of the year in the kick return game. He averaged 28.3 yards per return with a long of 45 yards on the opening play of the game.

Deatrich Wise Jr. – The defensive end was the only front seven member who really showed much of a spark. Wise displayed plenty of energy on his sack in the third quarter. He finished with four tackles, but was also still part of a front that found no consistency in the pass rush and allowed the Lions way too much room to work on the ground.

Ja’Whaun Bentley – It’s hard to note any superlatives of any kind on the New England defense in Detroit, but Bentley’s interception of a Stafford throw for tight end Luke Willson gave New England a momentary bit of momentum early in the third quarter. Bentley ran with the veteran tight end stride for stride to make the athletic play on the bad decision from the home QB.

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Phillip Dorsett – As seemingly the passing game’s No. 1 receiver through the first two weeks, Dorsett was shut out in Detroit. He had a couple early drops and then seemed to lose track of a deep ball from Brady down the middle that was intercepted by Darius Slay. After 12 catches in the first two weeks, Dorsett didn’t haul in a single pass in his five targets in Detroit.

Run defense – The Patriots front was run over, through and around by the Lions. Detroit churned out 159 yards on 33 attempts for a 4.8-yard average. New England allowed the Lions their first 100-yard rusher since Thanksgiving Day 2013, a 70-game drought that was ended by rookie Kerryon Johnson’s 101 yards on 16 attempts, a 6.3-yard average. It was a controlled attack by the Lions with no run longer than 15 yards, but Johnson, LeGarrette Blount and Stafford all recording runs longer than 10 yards. While the defensive line lost the line of scrimmage, New England’s linebackers were chasing and failing to catch ball carriers too often.

Coverage/Pass rush – For the second-straight week the coverage and rush failed to mesh to put any stress on Stafford. The Lions passer threw the ball 36 times with 27 completions for 262 yards with two touchdowns and the one interception for a 101.9 passer rating. Stephon Gilmore was beaten for a touchdown yet again, actually twice, a 33-yard score to Marvin Jones and a short crossing route to Kenny Golladay. With Trey Flowers, Patrick Chung and Eric Rowe sidelined to injury, the likes of Derek Rivers, J.C. Jackson and Keion Crossen made their NFL debuts in rotational action. Cyrus Jones saw time at safety. Jason McCourty had an increased role. In the end, none of it came together in a productive way for Brian Flores’ unit.

What do you think of our lists? Additions or alterations? Let us know with a comment below!

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