NFL Winners and Losers: After Jared Goff and Lions melt down, is it too soon to ask about 0-17?

·12 min read

The Detroit Lions had their chances to get a win. Memorably, they had the Baltimore Ravens stuck with a fourth-and-19 at their own 16-yard line with 26 seconds left to go, and somehow lost. Justin Tucker had to hit an NFL record 66-yard field goal to win it, and he did. 

Those opportunities to win are in the past and the 0-8 Lions are getting to a point where we have to ask when that win will come. If that win will come. After Sunday's debacle, you have to wonder. 

The Lions had a winnable game Sunday. The Philadelphia Eagles aren't very good, but they're better than the Lions and beat them 44-6. The embarrassing loss was summed up in one play: On a fourth-and-11, down 24-0, Jared Goff threw the ball away. You read that right. The boos at Ford Field were unmistakeable, as they should be. 

Earlier in the game, the Lions went for it on fourth-and-1 trailing 17-0 just before halftime, and Goff held onto the ball too long and took a sack. Everyone in Detroit seems to be already tired of Goff. After the fourth-down throwaway, old Lions star Darius Slay scooped up a fumble and returned it for an Eagles score. That was a hurtful dagger. 

The Lions were the first team to go 0-16, in 2008. It's possible they'll be the first to go 0-17. 

It's way too early to talk about a winless season, but when you look at the Lions' remaining schedule it's scary. 

Week 9: bye
Week 10: at Steelers
Week 11: at Browns
Week 12: vs. Bears
Week 13: vs. Vikings
Week 14: at Broncos
Week 15: vs. Cardinals
Week 16: at Falcons
Week 17: at Seahawks
Week 18: vs. Packers

There are some games the Lions could win. Maybe it's the Bears on Thanksgiving (what a treat to get a potentially 0-10 Lions team on the holiday), but do you trust the Lions to go on the road and beat teams like the Steelers, Broncos, Falcons or Seahawks? Probably not. 

New head coach Dan Campbell came in with some kneecap-biting bravado and to his and the players' credit, they have played hard most weeks. They have been in games. Just not Sunday. They're trying (most weeks), but they're just not good. Campbell had to know deep down that he was getting involved with a multi-year rebuild. When the Lions traded Matthew Stafford for Goff and two first-round draft picks, it was a smart move for the franchise and one that made it clear the Lions were looking long term. 

And the troubling thing Sunday is that the Lions seemed to have lost some of that fight. The Eagles were tougher. The Lions couldn't make anything happen, like when they had Jalen Hurts hemmed in near his goal line on third-and-12 and Hurts escaped and ran for a first down. That led to a 90-yard touchdown drive. 

Losing every week, especially with some emotional close calls, can sap a team. The Lions know they aren't doing anything this season, of course. They don't want to be 0-17, either, so presumably they won't totally check out. It's just going to be a long season. And, if the Lions play like they did Sunday, maybe a historic one in a bad way. Detroit doesn't deserve to have that happen twice. 

Jared Goff of the Detroit Lions had another forgettable day in another loss. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Jared Goff of the Detroit Lions had another forgettable day in another loss. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Here are the winners and losers from Week 8 in the NFL: 

WINNERS

Las Vegas Raiders: The Raiders had a bye week, and they got to watch the Los Angeles Chargers blow a great opportunity.

The Chargers lost to the New England Patriots at home, with Justin Herbert’s interception in the fourth quarter being the knockout blow. The Chargers led 17-16 when there was an obvious miscommunication, Herbert’s pass went right to safety Adrian Phillips and Phillips got up and ran it back for a touchdown. The Patriots won 27-24. 

The Patriots bothered Herbert and the Chargers offense, just like they did last season in a 45-0 win. Suddenly the Chargers, who looked impressive early in the season, are looking very beatable. And the Raiders lead the AFC West by a game.

Sean McDermott: The Buffalo Bills became a fun NFL team last season. They were wide open on offense with Josh Allen turning into a star. It was easy to forget that's not what Coach Sean McDermott was all about early on in Buffalo. 

McDermott is a good defensive coach and his defenses before last year were very good. The Bills have gotten back to playing some very good defense and they needed it on Sunday. The offense was stuck most of the game and the game was tied 3-3 at halftime. But the defense kept holding and the offense eventually broke through. The Bills beat the Miami Dolphins 26-11

The Bills will and have had some very good offensive days too. With the defense playing as well as it is, that could be a championship formula. 

Pat Freiermuth: The Cleveland Browns-Pittsburgh Steelers game was gong to be ugly and decided by a handful of plays. Rookie Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth made the biggest one. 

On fourth-and-2, trailing 10-9, the Steelers couldn't kick a field goal because kicker Chris Boswell was injured on a fake field goal earlier in the game. Freiermuth saved Mike Tomlin a lot of heat for the Boswell decision when he made an incredible catch in the back of the end zone for a go-ahead score. The Steelers went on to win 15-10 over the Browns. 

It was a big win for the Steelers and a bad one for the Browns. Freiermuth's play was the difference. He was a second-round pick and will be a good one for Pittsburgh. He already paid a big dividend on Sunday. 

Stephon Gilmore: When the Carolina Panthers traded for former defensive player of the year Stephon Gilmore, it was an aggressive move, but the Panthers seemed like playoff contenders. A four-game losing streak poured some cold water on those hopes. 

The Panthers rebounded on Sunday and Gilmore made his first big play for the Panthers. With 1:52 left and the Panthers up 19-10, Gilmore picked off Matt Ryan. That was key in a 19-13 win. Gilmore was a big part of a defensive effort that shut down Ryan and the Falcons. Ryan had just 146 yards passing. Gilmore should continue to get better and help the Panthers defense, and maybe they can still make that run to the playoffs. 

Mike White: The New York Jets had such little faith in Mike White that they made a baffling trade to get Joe Flacco when rookie Zach Wilson injured his knee and was ruled out for 2-to-4 weeks. Maybe the Jets should have watched White in a start first. 

White, in his first career start, threw for the most yards of any Jets quarterback since Vinny Testaverde in 2000. White threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-31 upset of the Cincinnati Bengals. White even came back after leaving briefly due to injury. The Jets took a late lead after a Shaq Lawson tipped interception, got a gift of an unnecessary roughness penalty on a third-down stop and closed out the unlikely win. 

The penalty will get the most attention (and rightfully so, it was awful), but White was fantastic. He made numerous plays. The Jets really didn't need Flacco after all. 

LOSERS

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The competition for the No. 1 seed in the NFC will be fierce and it's also important. Only one team gets a bye in the expanded playoffs. 

And the Bucs had a loss on Sunday they might regret. 

Tampa Bay was facing Trevor Siemian after Jameis Winston went down with a knee injury for the New Orleans Saints. And the Buccaneers dug themselves a 23-7 hole. When they took a late 27-26 lead, Siemian led a fine drive for a field goal and the lead, and then Tom Brady threw a pick-six. 

The Buccaneers had been rolling for the most part before Sunday. Maybe they expected to cruise again, especially after Winston was knocked out. It didn't go that way. 

Jacksonville Jaguars: On Sunday morning, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport wrote a long story about how Jaguars owner Shad Khan was still totally behind coach Urban Meyer. That might have been worse than anything that happened on the field Sunday for Jacksonville. And what happened on the field was really ugly.

The Jaguars again looked like a hapless NFL team, letting Geno Smith and the Seattle Seahawks blast them 31-7. Trevor Lawrence reverted back to looking like he’s wasting an entire year of his career. The Jaguars were awful in every way.

And yet, if we believe the report regarding Khan, it’s not like the Jaguars want to change anything. Imagine watching the 2021 Jaguars and thinking everything is going well.

Ron Rivera: Rivera had a very good 2020 season leading the Washington Football Team. This season he can’t find the right button to push.

WFT’s season got even worse on Sunday, losing 17-10 to a reeling Denver Broncos team. The defense finally played OK, but the offense kept making mistakes. There was a turnover on downs inside the 20 and two missed field goals to end drives. At the end Denver had an inexplicable mistake when Melvin Gordon lost a fumble in Broncos territory with 21 seconds left. But Washington’s offense didn’t move the ball at all and threw incomplete on the final play.

The loss was ugly, but WFT’s whole season has been ugly. They’re 2-6 this season.

Trey Lance's timetable to start again: Jimmy Garoppolo got some heat after last week's San Francisco 49ers loss, though a lot of it was undeserved. The 49ers played in a monsoon. Still, Garoppolo doesn't have the strongest job security with Lance, the third overall pick, sitting behind him. 

Garoppolo had a huge day on Sunday in a 33-22 win over the Chicago Bears, and the questions about him starting will take at least a week off. Garoppolo threw for 322 yards and ran for two touchdowns as the 49ers bounced back with a huge win over the Chicago Bears. The 49ers have been a bit of a disappointment but they're not totally out of the mix at 3-4. They'll need to get on a roll though, and it appears Garoppolo will be the one to lead that. 

Davis Mills: Mills, a rookie third-round pick, was put in a rough spot. He's playing with what is practically expansion-level talent, pressed into duty because Tyrod Taylor suffered a hamstring injury. Taylor seemed close to making it back this week, probably will be back next week, and that means Mills goes to the bench with a pretty brutal stretch of play on his record. It's not like the Texans could have any confidence he's the eventual replacement for Deshaun Watson. 

In Mills' starts, the Texans scored 9, 0, 22 (what was the Patriots defense doing that day?), 3, 5 and then 22 points Sunday that were entirely meaningless against the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams led 38-0 after three quarters, and won 38-22. The Texans' struggles are not all Davis' fault. And he did look good against the Patriots; maybe that performance sticks with the Texans' decision makers through the offseason. But he was put in a rough position and if this is it for him this season, it didn't look good. 

Carson Wentz: Wentz's unbelievably bad interception will be hard to shake in his Indianapolis Colts career. But which one are we talking about? 

First, the shot. The Colts were tied 24-24 against the Tennessee Titans in the final two minutes, backed up near their own end zone. The Colts wanted a screen to Mo Alie-Cox, it was covered, Wentz hesitated to throw it at Alie-Cox's feet and the pass rush got to him. That's when Wentz panicked. Not wanting to take a sack, he put the ball in his left hand and pushed it a few yards forward, and it was picked off by Elijah Molden for a touchdown.

Then, the chaser. In overtime, after the Colts drove for a last-minute touchdown to tie it at the end of the fourth quarter, Wentz forced a pass deep into coverage on first-and-10 and it was pretty easily picked off by Titans safety Kevin Byard. There was really no reason for the throw. It was a horrible play. 

Those plays flushed away anything good Wentz has done the past couple weeks. The 34-31 loss pretty much wipes out any chance the Colts have of winning the AFC South. It's a reminder that Wentz tries to do too much and makes horrendous mistakes. This will be the worst mistake of his season. Hopefully.

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