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rosalie52
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Turnovers and special teams prove to be the difference in a 16-14 Detroit win over Minnesota. The Vikings jumped out to a 14-0 lead before two interceptions by quarterback Terrry Bridgewater, both on horribly off-target throws allowed the Lions back in the game. They were converted into 10 points by Detroit. Minnesota failed on three field goal attempts.

Detroit's offense was largely ineffective registering 11 first downs, its first not coming until its fifth possession, and failed to finish drives which forced three successful field goal tries. One of those came after Detroit's second interception in Minnesota territory on a thrown that needed to be closer in the direction of the line of scrimmage. Detroit also hurt itself with key penalties, two of which stalled possible scoring drives. While they were able to keep Minnesota off the scoreboard, defensive lapses allowed the Vikings to make a 2nd 28 situation, before Jason Jones blocked a 26 yard attempt by Blair Walsh.

The Vikings also hurt themselves with key penalties, one after a 51 yard kickoff return, and they lost the ball on downs, when Bridgewater was off target on fourth down. But the Lions could not run out the clock with three running plays netting five yards and had to watch a possible NFL record 68 yard field goal fall short and wide left.

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The sorriest performance of the week goes to Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel who found out the NFL is a little faster than what he's used to. Manziel completed 10 of 18 passes for 80 yards, which is just under 4.5 yards per attempt, threw two interceptions, was late and high with a lot of his passes, which included his first interception. The other one was thrown into coverage in the end zone. Manziel looked lost and was running for his life. The team performance did nothing to reverse a transition to the Clowns running 38 plays for 107 yards or 2.8 yards per play. Not even the Raiders have been this inept, but if it's any comfort to Manziel, the Raiders needed 56 passing attempts to accumulate 202 yards or 3.8 yards per attempt.

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Detroit travels to Chicago to play the Bears at Soldier Field at 1:00 P.M. The Lions will be playing their final two games in cold weather and they will need to run the ball effectively, something they have struggled to do all season. The offensive front line has been an issue and they struggled against the Bears at Ford Field until two members of their defensive unit went down to injuries. Detroit has lost 13 straight games in temperatures of 35 degrees or colder, some of it due to the futility of the Lions over the past 20 years. An upside is Detroit is near the top of the league against the run and cold weather doesn't favor the passing game.

Detroit has clinched a playoff spot and they can a thank you card to Philadelphia quarterback Mark Sanchez for throwing behind his intended receiver with 1:31 left. The interception led to a game winning field goal by Washington kicker Kai Forbath with five seconds left. Detroit can include the rest of the team for two missed field goals and an inability to keep track of receiver DeSean Jackson.

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In a game in which both teams shot themselves in the foot, Detroit takes advantage of dropped passes by Chicago to take a 20-14 win. Detroit's own undoing was mistakes on special teams and interceptions in the red zone. A muffed punt at the end of the first half and a roughing the kicking penalty resulted in both Chicago touchdowns. Both of Matthew Stafford's interceptions were bad decisions, one into coverage in the end zone and other at the one yard line on an off target. Both times, receivers were open in the left flat. Stafford needs to look at other options. The Bears dropped seven or eight passes, at least two would have been first downs.

Both teams hurt themselves with ill-timed penalties. The Bears took unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after Detroit had made a goalline stand at the two yard line. The penalty robbed the Bears of an opportunity to pin the Lions inside the 10 and force a punt from its own end zone. A 46 yard pass interference penalty on third down put Detroit in business at the Chicago 17. Joique Bell the winning touchdown on the next play taking advantage of two missed tackles. The Lions took an ill-timed roughing the passing penalty after a made field goal, but were able stop Chicago with an interception on fourth down an ran out the clock.

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Cincinnati uses big plays on special teams to take a 37-28 win over Denver. The Bengals totaled 206 yards on kickoff and punt returns and rolled up 207 yards on the ground to compensate for an ineffective Andy Dalton. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning threw a season high four interceptions, the third of which was returned for a clinching touchdown. Manning, apparently has lost arm strength this season, as he tends to throw floaters when lined up under center.

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Blown coverage, missed tackles, and missed open receivers give Green Bay a 30-20 win over Detroit and a first round bye in the playoffs. Detroit was also unable to sustain a running game and their season long mistakes caught up with them against a good team. There were also the costly penalties, a pass interference penalty in the end zone which gave Green Bay a new set of downs, though Detroit was able to make a goal line stand. And there was a holding penalty in the fourth quarter after Green Bay had shanked a punt. That penalty set Detroit back to its 9 yard line and an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone gave the Packers a safety.

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Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh won an appeal of a suspension for Sunday's playoff game against Dallas for stepping on the left ankle of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He will be paying a $70,000 fine and with a long list of fines and suspensions, he has done nothing but hurt Detroit and they would well advised to look for a defensive lineman in the next draft.

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Carolina holds Arizona to a playoff record low 78 yards in a 27-14 win. The Cardinals lost 19 yards on their last play from scrimmage in a futile attampt to lateral the ball around. In fact, they gained 12 yards and had eight first downs. To further illustrate their ineptude, the Cardinals failed to cross midfield on possessions originating in teir territory and were held to one or fewer yards on nine possessions. Their scores came after Carolina turnovers, both game Arizona possession in Carolina territory. Ryan Lindley threw two interceptions, both times being fixated on the primary receiver and not seeing a linebacker in the area.

Lack of a running game and an inability to stop Baltimore prove costly to Pittsburgh in a 30-17 loss. Le'Veon Bell's absence was felt even more in pass protection. Ben Roesthlisberger had two interceptions, the second of which eliminated a possible Steeler comeback and also in which no one was remotely open.

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Today's Wild Card games: Cincinnati - Indianapolis 1:05 P.M. A correction - A.J. Green is a wide receiver and not running back.

Detroit - Dallas 4:40 P.M. Detroit will need to eliminate its season long mistakes of ill-time penalties and blown coverage. They will also need to shut down DeMarco Murray and render Dallas one dimensional and force Tony Romo to win with his arm. And also force him into another of his key playoff mistakes.

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Blown coverage in critical moments and costly defensive holding penalties sends Detroit home for the winter in a 24-20 loss to Dallas. Detroit had jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but began playing too soft at the end of the first half, a pattern that would be repeated the rest of the game. The Lions kept Dallas' winning drive with two defensive holding penalties on third down which otherwise might have forced the Cowboys into a field goal attempt to send the game to overtime. Dallas nearly did itself in by failing four times to keep Detroit pinned deep in its own territory, once on a running into the kicker penalty that enable Detroit to continue a 99 yard touchdown. Another Dallas penalty robbed the Cowboys of a chance to start near midfield.

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Detroit may have gotten the short end of the stick when referees reversed a pass interference call against Dallas, but it doesn't change the fact Detroit didn't make the plays when they needed to. They shanked a punt that allow Dallas good field position and failed to make a fourth down stop that would have given them their first playoff win since 1991.

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