The Detroit Lions haven't won a division title in 30 years.
Ending that streak wasn't going to be easy.
Ten days ago, the Lions were 7-2 and facing a pair of home games against the struggling Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. A pair of victories would have put them in commanding position to win the NFC North and host their first playoff game since moving to Ford Field in 2002.
On Friday, the Lions were glad things didn't go even worse.
Detroit needed 17 points in the final three minutes to beat the Bears 31-26, then couldn't pull off another comeback in a.
"I know what it looks like — we haven't been good enough out there — but I'm not panicked," Lions coach Dan Campbell said. "If we don't play our best game and the other team is perfect, it doesn't matter who we are facing, things like this are going to happen.
"We're the type of team that is going to have to fight and scratch and claw for everything. We can't be on cruise control."
The Lions have struggled on both sides of the ball, but no one has hurt the team as much as quarterback Jared Goff. After throwing three interceptions against the Bears, he lost three fumbles against the Packers.
"There have certainly been some plays where I need to take better care of the ball," Goff said. "There's no rhyme or reason — I'm going to look at all of them individually and figure out what I can fix."
The Lions don't play again until visiting the New Orleans Saints on Dec. 3, and Campbell plans to use the time to get things back on track.
"We're going to clean up some things and then we've got six games to go," he said. "If we turn the ball over three times against everyone we play, the odds of winning are going to be pretty slim, but I don't see that happening."
Rookie safety Brian Branch has become the defense's biggest playmaker. After registering three tackles for loss against the Bears, he led the team with eight tackles against Green Bay. His season started with a pick-6 against Patrick Mahomes in Detroit's win at Kansas City, and he's also been extremely effective as a run stopper in the box.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The pass rush didn't register a sack against Jordan Love and only has two in the last three games. While Detroit has 23 sacks this season, 18 of those came in wins against Atlanta, at Green Bay and against Las Vegas. The Lions have seven games with one or zero sacks.
Rookie tight end Sam LaPorta has become Goff's No. 2 weapon behind Amon-Ra St. Brown. He has 55 catches for 539 yards and five touchdowns, including a 7-yard score in the first quarter against Green Bay.
Detroit has allowed 760 passing yards and eight passing touchdowns in the last three games. The Lions also allowed Chicago's Justin Fields to rush for 104 yards. Love broke off a 37-yard run on a third-and-1 play late in Thursday's game.
The Lions entered the game in good shape — only missing guard Jonah Jackson — and didn't sustain any significant injuries.
6 — No team can win consistently in the NFL if its quarterback turns the ball over six times in two games. Goff is usually good with the ball — he hadn't lost a fumble all season before Thursday — but he needs to regain that form in a hurry.
The Lions get a couple days off before getting ready to play at New Orleans on Dec. 3. A road win would go a long way toward eliminating the possibility of a late-season collapse.
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