Lions lose to Patriots 34-9, fail to score TD for 2nd straight week against a top team



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FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts — The Detroit Lions faced a conference leader for the second consecutive week and failed to score a touchdown again.

"If I knew what was wrong, I would have already fixed it," wide receiver Calvin Johnson said after the 34-9 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday. "We still have time to get things going in the right direction."

The Lions (7-4) lost a week earlier to the Arizona Cardinals, 14-6, after winning four games in a row but play their next three at home against teams with losing records.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford connected on 18 of 46 passes for 264 yards, matching his season low in completions.

"People tend to blame the quarterback," Detroit coach Jim Caldwell said, "but nobody played extremely well on our team. And I'm talking about everybody."

Asked if he was considering taking offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi off of play-calling responsibilities, he answered firmly: "No."

The Patriots (9-2) showed off their passing game one week after a brilliant rushing performance.

The outcome was the same: a blowout win over a top team.

Throw in a defense that shut down the Lions and two outstanding special teams plays, and the team with the AFC's best record rolled over the team with the NFL's stingiest defense for their seventh straight win.

"Everyone is linked together," quarterback Tom Brady said, "so we all feed off each other — offense, defense, special teams."

Brady threw for 349 yards and two touchdowns exactly 14 years after his pro debut in another 34-9 game against the Lions. In that Thanksgiving meeting, the rookie was a late-game replacement for Drew Bledsoe in Detroit's win.

On Sunday, LeGarrette Blount rushed for 78 yards and two short scores and the Patriots improved to 44-3 in their last 47 regular-season home games.

The Patriots have such depth that Jonas Gray didn't even play one week after rushing 37 times for 201 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts. He was sent away from Friday's practice for reporting late, just one day after Blount signed. Blount was cut by Pittsburgh last Tuesday, the day after he walked to the locker room as the Steelers were lining up for the last play.

Blount rushed for 772 yards for the Patriots last season, but didn't re-sign.

"He's never been a problem for us," defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said. "It was a good welcome back for him today."

The Patriots led 24-6 at halftime as Brady repeatedly found wide-open receivers.

"We blew a lot of coverage," Detroit linebacker DeAndre Levy said. "They sped up the tempo a bit and I think we lost our composure."

The Patriots routed a division leader for the third straight week, following wins over Denver and Indianapolis. They visit Green Bay, which began the day tied with Detroit for the NFC North lead, next Sunday.

In their last five games, the Lions have led for 45 minutes, 53 seconds, been tied for 44 minutes, 17 seconds and trailed for 209 minutes, 50 seconds, according to STATS.

They bore little resemblance to the team that had allowed the fewest points and yards rushing in the NFL.

Brady finished with 38 completions in 53 attempts with one interception, with Julian Edelman catching 11 passes for the highest-scoring team in the NFL.

The Lions managed just three field goals by Matt Prater as the Patriots shut down Stafford's two star receivers. Golden Tate had just four catches after entering the game third in the NFL with 68. Johnson was held to four receptions for 58 yards.

Special teams gave the Patriots a huge boost in the first half when Ryan Allen boomed a 66-yard punt and Danny Amendola returned a kickoff 81 yards.

Detroit lost 6 yards on the series after the punt. Then, New England took a 7-3 lead on the next possession on Brady's 4-yard pass to Tim Wright.

The Lions came back to get a first-and-goal at the 3, but managed just a 20-yard field goal by Prater.

Amendola's long return on the subsequent kickoff set the Patriots up at the Detroit 22. And when they also got a first-and-goal at the 3, they took full advantage on the next play with a touchdown run by Blount less than a minute after Prater's field goal.

Even when Detroit put New England in poor field position, a punt by Sam Martin that went out of bounds at the 7, the Patriots couldn't be stopped. They marched 93 yards, scoring on an 8-yard pass from Brady to Wright for a 21-6 lead.

And when Prater's 53-yard field-goal attempt went wide to the left with 35 seconds left in the half, consecutive completions to Rob Gronkowski of 24 and 23 yards set up Stephen Gostkowski's 35-yard field goal for a 24-6 halftime lead.

NOTES: The 34 points allowed and the 25-point margin were the most for the Lions this season. ... Former Patriots safety James Ihedigbo had an interception. ... The Patriots have won six games by at least 22 points.


AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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