Rookie running back Jahvid Best was one silver lining in Sunday's loss to Philadelphia. Best accounted for 232 yards of total offense against the Eagles, although most of that was accomplished in the first half.
"I think the biggest difference for me was last week I was nervous," Best said. "There was a lot more emotions. This week I was calm and I was confident. So I went into this game calm and confident and that's what I should do every week."
Detroit never quite adjusted to the loss of receiver Nate Burleson on the first play of the game. Burleson suffered an ankle injury which he nursed throughout the contest, but his absence forced the team to use tight ends Tony Scheffler and Brandon Pettigrew as replacement receivers. Since Burleson's job is to stretch the defense, his loss affected Calvin Johnson's production, limiting the team's offensive options.
Johnson finished with just four catches for 50 yards, although most of that production included a late, 19-yard touchdown reception.
"We're trying to get the ball in all our playmakers' hands, but again you need to make the right decisions and you can't force the ball," Schwartz said. "There's some of those situations when the defense does role coverage to him that you end up forcing the ball. We have to rely on our other guys. That's the way we're built, and that's the way we have to be."
One individual who probably took the most from Sunday's loss was ex-Lion Ernie Sims. The former first-round pick started at linebacker for Philadelphia, and between his time with the Lions last season and the Eagles' opening week loss, had not experienced the taste of victory in almost 20 consecutive games as a starter.
"It feels a whole lot different, I can't lie about that," Sims said. "It was a little awkward seeing them while going through that. I'm with the Philadelphia Eagles now, we won at the Lions; we got our first win. I'm excited right now."
Although the Lions had their chances, it cannot be denied that Michael Vick had just as much to do with those struggles. The Eagles' signal caller tossed for 284 yards, leading the Eagles' to 35 points. But it was Vick's almost-legendary escape ability that did two things: revived his dormant career, and put Detroit's defense on its heels for most of the contest.
"Those are matchups that we need to win, that he won," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "He has won a lot of those in the past, and that's one of the reasons he is where he is in his career. I think we had at least two of those drives -- maybe three -- that we had our hands on him on third down and we weren't able to get him on the ground."
The Detroit News' Bob Wojnowski summed up the frustration of Lions fans with his Monday morning column. Wojnowski highlighted Best's fantastic game, an almost-comeback, but wondered about the mysterious disappearance of Calvin Johnson among other frustrations. He went on to challeng that, regardless of past faults, this Lions team should be good enough to take a game like the one lost on Sunday.
Writes Woj, "This was a winnable game, and if you want to say Vick went out and swiped it, fine. But we've seen how quickly things can spiral around here, when decent effort gets squandered in tough losses. The Lions aren't getting blown out these days, but it wasn't enough and it shouldn't be enough for anyone anymore."