Lions comedic in loss to Bucs

By Rob Parker - Sports Columnist
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Thanksgiving is still days away. But it didn't stop the Lions from playing like turkeys on Sunday afternoon.

In a huge game that had ramifications for winning the division and making the playoffs, the Lions had five turnovers en route to a horrible 24-21 loss to the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ford Field.

The Lions had a golden opportunity to shake off that bad loss in Pittsburgh last Sunday and beat up on bad Tampa Bay, which entered the game at 2-8.

Plus, it was a chance for the Lions (6-5) to give themselves some breathing room in the division.

Instead, the Lions turned back the clock five years to when an embarrassing performance like this was the norm.

There's no way the Lions should have lost, especially if they were the team they thought they were when they opened the season winning four of the first five games.

"You can't explain it, it was a poor performance," Lions' coach Jim Schwartz said.

"As disappointing and as bitter of a loss this , we have a short turnaround to bounce back."

Let's face it. The Lions - who have lost three of their last five games - aren't a good team, just a mediocre squad that continues to play down to the competition.

Most, honestly, thought the Lions would roll over the Bucs and then beat the injury-plagued Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving Day here.

Instead, the Packers (5-5-1) can now leave town with the division lead with a victory.

"It's very disappointing, because we knew we should have won that game, but we didn't deserve to win the game," said Lions' RB Reggie Bush, who had 83 yards on 15 carries. "We turned the ball over five times, you don't deserve to win a game. That's just how it goes."

Bush is so alarmed that he said there needs to be a player's only meeting called before Thursday's game to make sure everyone is on the same page moving forward.

"I don't know," Bush said. "We just have to find a way to win the next game, that's it."

This turnover thing isn't new. The Lions had four of them against Dallas here and got a miracle victory in the final minute.

In that game, quarterback Matthew Stafford had two picks. Here, vs. TB, Stafford had four.

"Can't make bad decisions," said Stafford when asked on what he needs to do for the Lions to reach their potential. "Had a couple bad ones, had a couple unlucky bounces.

"You do that, you turn the ball over five times, have a punt blocked and all that, the minus part of the turnover ratio for a long time now. We've got to get that fixed."

The same goes for the secondary. The Lions' secondary is the worst in the league. You saw it on display in the fourth quarter when the Lions gave up an 85-yard TD pass from rookie quarterback Mike Glennon to Tiquan Underwood early in the fourth quarter to beat CB Chris Houston, giving the Bucs the lead for good at 24-21.

"I don't talk about the breakdown," Schwartz said. "The breakdown was we gave up a long touchdown pass. We don't assign blame. The blame is on the entire defense."

Calvin Johnson - who had 115 yards and seven catches - said his team won't get too down for losing two games in a row for the first time this season.

"We have too much going," he said. "We have some grown up guys in here.

"We don't have time to be worried about this."

The spin, of course, is that the loss to Tampa Bay didn't end their season or hurt their chances to make the postseason.

"We have a five-game season," Schwartz said. "This does not eliminate us from the playoffs.

"It doesn't do anything other than make the last five games even more urgent. Those are our marching orders over the last five games."

Sounds good.

In reality, this game did derail the Lions' playoff train.

If the Lions don't reach their postseason goal, they will look back at this game and realize it cost them big time.

Pass the gravy.

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