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ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions have a decent excuse if they do not want to talk about Sunday’s head-scratching loss to Tampa Bay.
They don’t have much time to waste before a Thanksgiving showdown with division rival Green Bay.
“Last time I checked, we still have a shot to win the division, so we don’t feel like it’s slipping away,” running back Reggie Bush said. “But our sense of urgency has to go up quick.”
The Lions lost 24-21 to the Buccaneers on Sunday, turning the ball over five times in perhaps their worst defeat of the season. Detroit has lost two in a row since taking over sole possession of first place in the NFC North. The Lions are tied atop the division with Chicago heading into Thursday’s matchup with the Packers.
After Sunday’s mistake-filled fiasco, Bush said it was time for a team meeting.
“We have to have a players-only meeting and really dig deep inside and find out what we're made of,” Bush said. “It’s going to take everybody on this team — coaching staff, players — to be able to overcome this.”
Quarterback Matthew Stafford said Monday there had been no meeting.
“I don’t think it’s necessary,” Stafford said. “This is a team I’ve been around for a while, and we have strong leaders on this team. We can get it taken care of just in individual groups. We’ve got leaders at every position, and guys know what it takes to win in this league.”
Stafford threw four interceptions Sunday, although on a couple of them he was victimized by fluky bounces. The final interception came with under a minute to go. Calvin Johnson almost made the catch at the Tampa Bay 5-yard line, but he was hit and the ball was jarred free, sailing right to another Tampa Bay defender.
Coach Jim Schwartz has praised his team’s ability to handle success this season. Now the Lions are facing some adversity.
“I think we all need to remind ourselves, like we did yesterday, that the fact is that there’s five games remaining, and we’re in first place,” Schwartz said. “We need to conduct ourselves accordingly, and we can’t worry what happened last week, we can’t worry about what happened yesterday. We need to worry about what’s going to happen in the future. I like our team's mindset.”
The Lions have lost nine in a row on Thanksgiving. Last year, they fell short in overtime against Houston in a game remembered for Schwartz’s illegal toss of a challenge flag, which allowed a dubious Texans touchdown to stand. The previous Thanksgiving, Detroit star Ndamukong Suh was ejected against Green Bay.
Detroit's last victory on Thanksgiving was in 2003 — against the Packers.
Stafford said the Lions didn’t spend too much time rehashing the Tampa Bay game.
“Very little — just watched the game, buzzed through it,” he said. “Obviously had some things that I can do better, for sure. We were all in that boat. The rest of the day is devoted to Green Bay.”
When Sunday’s game ended, some players were already eager to move on to the Packers. No sense belaboring an obviously disheartening performance.
“Be mad that we lost. We had a ton of mistakes, and we had a chance to win,” receiver Nate Burleson said.
“Be mad about that, but there’s so much to be excited about. We’ve got a game in a few days, we’ve got a chance to win the division. There’s so much more to be happy about than to be overly frustrated.”