Chris McCosky/ The Detroit News
Allen Park— Don’t try telling the Lions they’ve lost some of their swagger. Don’t try telling them they’re in a slump, even though they’ve lost three of four.
And don’t try telling them that maybe they weren’t ready to handle the responsibility of being legitimate playoff contenders.
They aren’t buying any of that.
“There is no hitch in our giddy-up,” receiver Nate Burleson said Monday. “We’re ready to get back to work. We are fired up for a big game at home Sunday against Carolina. Our focus isn’t on what’s wrong with us, it’s ‘let’s get back to doing what we do best — winning football games.'”
That apparently was the tone in position meetings Monday following a 37-13 loss in Chicago.
“I have concern because we lost the last game,” coach Jim Schwartz said. “Have we lost confidence? Absolutely not. We still have seven games to play. The important thing is to identify the reasons (for the loss), take the steps to correct those and move on past it.”
The uncharacteristic six turnovers and the poor response to them were viewed as a correctible anomaly.
“It was a little bit off personality for us,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz and the players will fight you if you suggest they were knocked off their personality by the size of the stage and magnitude of the game.
“Nah,” Schwartz said. “Everybody was thinking it was the Chicago Bears, not thinking about the wild card or controlling our destiny or anything like that. It was just the first game of the second half of the season.”
Still, the Bears have played in playoff games and the NFC Championship game. The Lions are playing meaningful games in the second half for the first time in four years, and had a chance to put the rival Bears in their rearview mirror.
Maybe the moment was too big for them.
“Not at all,” Burleson said. “You talk about being fired up. Guys were ready to rock. That locker room was electric. Guys were ready to play ball. It had nothing to do with the type of game it was. It’s more just the situation we put ourselves in with the turnovers.
“You can’t attribute anything to nervousness or guys having high anxiety. It was just one of those games.”
Rashied Davis, who played for Chicago, put it this way.
“You can’t recover from six turnovers against a team like Chicago,” the Lions receiver said. “They are like a pack of ravenous wolves. But we have to shake it off. We lost, but in the grand scheme of things, we are 6-3 and they are 6-3.”
Going forward, Schwartz said there were no additional concerns about the health of quarterback Matthew Stafford. Schwartz didn’t back off his postgame comments — it was the wind that bothered Stafford, not the fractured index finger on his throwing hand.
“He obviously had a glove on,” Schwartz said. “He had a splint on the very tip of his finger so the glove was just so he had a good grip of the ball. He threw the ball well Thursday and Friday. The issue was the wind, and it affected both quarterbacks.
Both completed about 50 percent of their passes and both are 60 percent throwers.
“The difference was, because of the turnovers and the special teams scores, one team had to throw the ball a lot and the other didn’t.”
Stafford wound up throwing 63 passes, Jay Cutler 19.
“Does it feel different (throwing with a fractured index finger)? Yeah. But it didn’t affect his actual throwing,” Schwartz said.
Players don’t look at the record and see 1-3 in November. They see 6-3. Players don’t add up won-loss records to see their three losses — to the 49ers, Falcons and Bears — are to the three toughest opponents they’ve played.
Players also rarely, if ever, admit to losing confidence.
“We think we could have beaten every team we lost to,” Burleson said. “I feel we are better than Atlanta, San Francisco and Chicago. Obviously, after losing to them I can’t say that. They’ve got the upper hand.
“But this is the same team nobody was quite sure about at the beginning of the year. A lot of people were saying we might win five games. We’ve won six and we are well above water. We are a good team and there’s not a guy or a team on our schedule that we are scared of. We are the same confident team we were at the beginning of the year.”
There is a thin line in sports between being confident and delusional. The Lions have seven weeks to prove they are not the latter.
Panthers at Lions
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, Ford Field, Detroit
Records: Carolina 2-7, Detroit 6-3
Line: Lions by 7
Series: Carolina leads 4-1 (Carolina 10-0, Nov. 16, 2008)
Did you know? Detroit has a winning percentage of .200 against Carolina, worst against all teams the Lions have played.