Pa­tri­cia be­lieves Lions have some­thing to play for in fi­nale

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - By Matt Schoch As­so­ci­ated Press

ALLEN PARK, MICH. (AP) >> Don’t tell Matt Pa­tri­cia his Lions have noth­ing to play for this week.

“I’d like to think that we’re play­ing for some­thing ev­ery game,” Pa­tri­cia said. “That’s my mind­set. We’re try­ing to play to go win. Doesn’t mat­ter what the sit­u­a­tion is, doesn’t mat­ter what the op­po­nent is play­ing for, doesn’t mat­ter any­thing other than we’re try­ing to go out there and do the best job we can to give our­selves a chance to win.”

In re­al­ity, his Lions have been coast­ing to a stop for weeks, as Sun­day’s 27-17 loss to Den­ver was their eighth straight.

At 3-11-1, only draft po­si­tion­ing is at stake in Sun­day’s sea­son fi­nale against the Green Bay Pack­ers. Detroit is cur­rently slot­ted at No. 3 in the draft or­der, but could move up to se­cond or down to fifth.

A loss on Sun­day also would

make it the fran­chise’s long­est los­ing streak since the win­less 2008 cam­paign.

For that one, the Lions could look to Kyle Sloter as their fourth start­ing quar­ter­back of the sea­son this week af­ter David Blough’s strug­gles con­tin­ued at Den­ver.

“I’m ready when­ever they need me,” Sloter said. “I know I can be a starter in this league. Noth­ing so far in this league has told me that I can’t be.” WHAT’S WORK­ING The Lions rushed for 4.6 yards per carry, their fourth-high­est aver­age in a game this sea­son. The team got its first look at the tan­dem of Ker­ryon John­son of Bo Scar­brough to­gether in the back­field. Ri­vals from Auburn and Alabama, re­spec­tively, the pair could be a nice twoheaded mon­ster next sea­son be­hind quar­ter­back Matthew Stafford.

Re­turn­ing af­ter miss­ing eight weeks af­ter knee surgery, John­son rushed 10 times for 42 yards. WHAT NEEDS HELP The team’s 95 pass­ing yards were a sea­son- ow by nearly half and only Kenny Gol­la­day had more than two catches. Stafford’s been out since Nov. 3, with Jeff Driskel go­ing 0-3 and then Blough go­ing 0-4 as re­place­ments. STOCK UP Ja­mal Agnew re­turned a punt for a 64-yard touch­down to give Detroit a 10-0 lead. He also be­came the only NFL player this year with a punt and kick­off re­turn for a score. STOCK DOWN The Lions couldn’t re­al­is­ti­cally ex­pect too much from Blough, an un­drafted rookie quar­ter­back. But af­ter a strong de­but against Chicago on Thanks­giv­ing, Blough has sput­tered and Sun­day was his worst game. Blough com­pleted 12 of his 24 passes for 117 yards and a touch­down. How­ever, it was the first of his four starts when he didn’t throw an in­ter­cep­tion. IN­JURED Add rookie linebacker Jahlani Tavai to the lengthy in­jured re­serve list for the Lions, which now reaches 16 af­ter the rookie linebacker’s shoul­der in­jury.

The se­cond-round pick in­jured the same shoul­der that ended Tavai’s se­nior sea­son early at Hawaii and re­quired late-sea­son surgery, Pa­tri­cia said Mon­day.

Tavai’s rookie sea­son ends with 58 com­bined tack­les, two sacks and one in­ter­cep­tion. KEY NUMBERS Gol­la­day could sal­vage some­thing nice this sea­son for Detroit, as Sun­day he hauled in touch­down No. 11, which leads the NFL.

JACK DEMPSEY - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Detroit Lions run­ning back Ker­ryon John­son (33) runs as Den­ver Bron­cos out­side linebacker Von Miller (58) pur­sues dur­ing the se­cond half of an NFL football game, Sun­day, Dec. 22, 2019, in Den­ver.

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