Pat Caputo: Lions’ issues still on display despite victory​

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The Lions blew a 24-3 lead Sunday. Alex Smith, Washington’s cagey veteran quarterback, who is on the rebound from a horrific leg injury, threw for 390 yards.

But at least this time there was a pleasant twist.

The Lions won the game, 30-27, thanks to a foolish personal foul by Washington standout rookie defensive end Chase Young, and a remarkable last-second, 59-yard field goal by Matt Prater.

To characterize this as a so-called “character” victory, though, would be a reach. Pretty much each of the Lions’ flaws were on display.

Like the Lions’ win at Atlanta, this was an ineptitude bowl. Washington, which has just two victories, isn’t very good.

The Lions, in truth, are just as bad.

But there were some bright spots.

Washington’s strength is its pass rush, and the Lions did an excellent job of protecting Matthew Stafford. Rookie running back D’Andre Swift continues to make progress. He made the most of his 21 touches Sunday (16 carries, five receptions). Swift accounted for 149 yards. Stafford didn’t turn the ball over, which has been a common theme when the Lions win. They are 4-5. Stafford has just one turnover in the Lions’ victories, and seven in their defeats, many of them in the scoring zone.

The Lions stayed on the fringes of the playoff race with this win. Carolina and Houston are next on the schedule, each a struggling team.

The Lions may very well be 6-5 after Thanksgiving Day.

Yet, this town drips with cynicism about the Lions.

The Lions of the past decade have consistently followed taking a step forward with two back. Yes, the Lions should beat the Panthers and Texans. They are more than capable of losing one or both of those games, too. The Bears, Packers, Titans and Bucs, who follow, all have winning records.

The Lions’ defense is soft. Stafford is up and down like a yo-yo. There isn’t much to trust about this team.

No lead, literally, is safe.

The Lions are stuck in neutral. It is even more frustrating than being in reverse, because it neither indicates headway nor invokes necessary change.

As such, the Lions’ victory Sunday provided neither a means nor an end.