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Lions proving a team of extremes, with NFL’s best offense and worst defense

Amani Oruwariye came up empty trying to bring down Seattle's Rashaad Penny on the first of his two long touchdown runs Sunday, an all-too-common occurence for Detroit's defense this season.Gregory Shamus/Getty

The Detroit Lions will land in Foxborough for a meeting with the Patriots next Sunday as the highest-scoring offense in football, with 140 points from their first four games. That’s 21 more than any other team.

They’ll be 1-3, though, because their defense has allowed 141, the most in the NFL by 26.

Geno Smith, Rashaad Penny and Seattle never needed their punter on Sunday, the Seahawks holding off the Lions, 48-45, to get back to .500 at 2-2. The 93 combined points are tied for the 16th-most in NFL regular-season history. (Two playoff games also totaled more.)

“An old-fashion shootout," Smith said.


The Lions are the first team in NFL history to have scored and allowed a combined 281 points through the first four games of a season.

“We turned the ball over twice, and one of them went for seven points. That’s the difference in the game,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said.

Seattle scored on seven drives, missed a field goal on the eighth and took a knee to end the game on the ninth. They also scored on Tariq Woolen’s 40-yard interception return in the second half, totaling more points on Sunday than they had combined in their three previous games.

“Defensively, we just weren’t good,” Campbell said. “We obviously have to clean up everything, and I’m going to look at that with [defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn]. We will look at the scheme and the personnel, and we’ll find the best fit. Not just to get a chance to win our next game, but to win three or four games down the road. If that means playing more young guys, that’s what we’ll do.”

Campbell said Glenn and his staff will be helping with the review of the defense, but that their own performances will be part of it.


“We’ll look at everything,” he said. “I think A.G. is a hell of a coach — that’s why I hired him — but we’ll look at everything about our defense. I think this is the time for a deep dive.”

The Lions gave up 467 points last year — 31st in the league — while going 3-13-1, and have allowed 29 points/game in Campbell’s first 21 games as coach. The Lions are the 30th team in the Super Bowl era to score at least 140 points in their first four games. The first 29 went 109-7 (.940).

“If your offense scores 45 points, I think you have to win the game,” Lions rookie defensive end Aidan Hutchison said. “Props to the offense for putting up those points, but that was a poor defensive performance. We have to be better than that.”

Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone doesn’t think it is a talent issue holding the defense back.

“This is the NFL and everyone is good enough to make plays in this league,” he said. “We know a guy like DK Metcalf is going to make plays. It’s the mental errors and undisciplined football that gets you into trouble. That’s kind of where we are as a defense right now, and we all need to fill our part of the puzzle.”

Campbell thinks Detroit’s defensive problems might have one underlying cause. Unfortunately, it isn’t one he can fix.

“I think we lack confidence — that’s very clear to see,” he said. “To get that, you have to have production in games and have success. You have to stop plays and stop plays . . . we’re lacking that, and it leads to us making mistakes.”


Spectactor in Pittsburgh killed in fall

A spectator at Sunday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets died following a fall on an escalator at Acrisure Stadium.

The Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety said police and emergency service personnel were alerted after a male spectator fell around 4:45 p.m., shortly after the end of New York’s 24-20 victory over the Steelers.

Paramedics administered care on site before the victim was transported to the hospital in critical condition. He died shortly thereafter. The man’s identity has not been released.

“We are aware of an unfortunate incident that occurred inside Acrisure Stadium today,” the Steelers said in a statement. “We are working with local authorities and helping their investigation into the matter. We are sending our thoughts and prayers to the guest’s family.”

J.J. Watt had his heart shocked into rhythm after going into atrial fibrillation on Wednesday, the defensive end tweeting out the revelation before Sunday's game after hearing it would be reported in the media.Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

J.J. Watt emotional after heart scare

J.J. Watt and his wife Kealia have spent the past few months looking at ultrasounds of their unborn son and wishing for the best. They never thought they’d be looking at pictures of Watt’s own heart.

“It’s been a week. I’m happy to be here. Happy to...,” an emotional Watt said as his voice trailed off and he took a moment to gain control of his emotions.

The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year helped the Cardinals beat Carolina, 26-16, just three days after having his heart shocked into rhythm after going into atrial fibrillation.


“I talked to cardiologists and electrophysiologists from all over the country,” Watt said. “I was assured multiple times from multiple people that there was nothing else you could do. I could play like normal and something could happen the next day or never again in 20 years. So I was assured and I went back to practice on Friday and here we are.

“Obviously it’s been a very emotional week for me and my family — for my wife and for myself,” he added.

Watt found out Sunday that a media outlet planned to break the story about his medical condition, which upset him.

To get ahead of the news, Watt tweeted just hours before kickoff that “I was just told somebody leaked some personal information about me and it’s going to be reported on today. I went into A-Fib on Wednesday, had my heart shocked back into rhythm on Thursday and I’m playing today. That’s it.”

After the game Watt said he felt betrayed that someone shared his private medical information with the media.

“The only people that knew were my family and people in the building,” Watt said.

Watt added: “Injuries, I don’t care. You leak injuries. That’s football. But this one was very emotional for me, so it was upsetting.”

Watt had a key fourth-quarter deflection of Baker Mayfield’s pass at the line of scrimmage that led to Dennis Gardeck’s interception and helped the Cardinals take a 20-10 lead in the fourth quarter. He finished with three tackles and two pass breakups.


The ball's been slipping out of Indianapolis quarterback Matt Ryan's grip more than ever this season.Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

Matt Ryan can’t handle it in Indy

Matt Ryan fumbled twice in a 24-17 loss to rival Tennessee, giving the 15-year veteran nine fumbles in four games. That puts him on pace for 38 this season, which would easily surpass the NFL record of 23 set by Kerry Collins in 2001 and matched by Daunte Culpepper in 2002.

The 37-year-old Boston College product also threw his fifth interception and was sacked three times.

“I think you’ve just got to protect it better,” the 2016 NFL MVP said. “It’s a very uncharacteristic four-game stretch for me. It’s something I’ve got to clean up and get better at. If we can put together a clean game, I think we can be very good.”

So far it’s not been good, and not just for Ryan, acquired from Atlanta in the offseason after 14 years with the Falcons. While the Colts (1-2-1) running game has ground to a halt, Indy’s pass protection has been less than adequate and slow starts have become the norm.

On Sunday, Ryan had one snap bounce off his hands — initially ruled a fumble and then changed — lost another ball when he was hit while winding up to throw, and fumbled again when he couldn’t quite tuck the ball away on a sack. With 13 games left, Ryan is three short of matching his worst season fumble total.

He’s lost three of those fumbles, two shy of his career worst.

“I’m not going to sit here and point fingers at Matt or anybody else on the turnovers,” Colts coach Frank Reich said. “Sometimes, they’re on your quarterback, sometimes there’s a little bit more to it than that. But we look at it, we judge each one. We’ve just got to get better at it.”

Daniel Snyder sighting

⋅ Washington owner Dan Snyder, under investigation by the NFL over alleged workplace misconduct within his club, was on the field in Arlington, Texas, with Jerry Jones before their teams played. Snyder is suspended from day-to-day operations and hasn’t been seen in public at Commanders home games.

⋅ The Texans scored in the fourth quarter for the first time this season, 10 points that pulled them within a field goal before losing to the Los Angeles Chargers. They came in having been blanked, 30-0, in the final period.