DETROIT -

If you didn't believe the NFL experts who predicted that the Lions would take a step back this season, you should now.

The Lions officially took that step on Sunday afternoon. After their 20-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field, the Lions are now 1-3 and in last place in the NFC North.

The Lions were trying to bounce back from a horrible loss a week ago in Tennessee, but things only got worse.

Many will simply chalk this bumpy start to the season as a blip on the screen, nothing to worry about. The die-hard fans believe there are plenty of games left for the Lions to bounce back and make it to the postseason for the second straight season.

Guess again.

This terrible football is real, a trend.

In the last 16 games -- including the playoff game -- after their 5-0 start last season, the Lions are 6-10. Worse, they're 1-5 in the last six regular-season games. The lone win came in this season's opener over the St. Louis Rams. And the Lions needed a miracle at the end to win that game.

"It's incredibly disappointing," Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy said. "You know, coming home you'd think we'd have a little bit of energy, a little burst, come out the gates firing."

Nope.

The nightmare game started ugly, too. The Lions gave up another special teams touchdown. Percy Harvin took the opening kickoff and returned it 105 yards for the score. By the way, Harvin was untouched in the process.

"They came out, opened it up with a kickoff return," Levy said about the Vikings. `"They took the momentum from the get-go and we were clawing our way back and waited to the end."

In the second half, the Lions also gave up a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown. Marcus Sherels' TD gave Minny a 20-6 lead in the third quarter.

It meant the Lions gave a kickoff return and punt return for touchdowns in back-to-back weeks.

The fans let the Lions have it, showering the team with boos.

"I think big things need to change," kicker Jason Hanson said. "There's no excuse for us giving up touchdowns and not covering. We need to do it better and we need to cover better and all special teams need to get their act together because we're good."

The Lions simply continue to make mistakes. There was a huge dropped TD by Brandon Pettigrew and Mikel Leshoure also had a big fumble.

"Yeah, it's frustrating," Leshoure said. "It's frustrating because we know we're a better group. We got probably one of the most talented teams offensively in the league and we just need to put it together."

Matthew Stafford and the Lions have settled for way too many field goals in the red zone. Stafford threw for 319 yards, but had no TD passes and no interceptions.

"Just not executing enough," said Stafford when asked about settling for field goals. "Got a good plan. Whether it's me missing guys open or us not being efficient enough in the run game or guys not making plays that they can make -- it's all the way around."

Plus, the Lions aren't going to Calvin Johnson as much as they need to. He had just five catches for 54 yards. He had a chance for a TD. but it was jarred lose after he was popped in the end zone, attempting to secure the football.

And Stafford was sacked (five) more times on Sunday than combined in the first three games. The protection is now a problem.

Nothing is working right now, or so it seems.

"We've given up five non-defensive scores in the last two weeks," said coach Jim Schwartz. "We're 1-3 right now because we deserve to be 1-3 and that's part of the reason."

The bottom line remains that the Lions are in trouble. They have four of their next five games on the road after a bye this coming Sunday.

Worse, the first two games are in Philadelphia and in Chicago on Monday night. For sure, tough games to win.