- Associated Press - Saturday, October 10, 2015

DETROIT (AP) - In the aftermath of Detroit’s controversial loss at Seattle, some Lions fans wondered why players, coaches and the team’s front office didn’t show more anger publicly.

“It really does nothing for us to do that,” quarterback Matthew Stafford explained. “I know it’s hard to imagine as a fan, probably, but fans don’t have to suit up and play next Sunday against a team, so we have to use all of our mental and physical energy at this point on an Arizona team, and they’re a good football team.”

So with frustration mounting in the Motor City, the Lions made a conscious decision to stay calm about the fumble at Seattle on Monday night that was ruled a touchback instead of an illegally batted ball. The turnover enabled the Seahawks to hold on for a tight victory and left Detroit as the league’s only winless team. Now, with the season already slipping away, the Lions host Arizona on Sunday, and after insisting all week they needed to focus only on the Cardinals, they’re under pressure to play well.

That won’t be easy against an Arizona team with the NFL’s fourth-ranked offense. The Cardinals (3-1) are coming off a loss to St. Louis, but Carson Palmer has a passer rating of 106.4, and Larry Fitzgerald already has five touchdown catches.

Arizona coach Bruce Arians, for what it’s worth, said if he’d been on the wrong end of a game like the Lions (0-4) lost at Seattle, he would have had a hard time moving on.

“I’d still probably be in the hospital with high blood pressure,” he said. “Every week now, you have a call in a game that’s determining the outcomes of games. We had an obvious fumble that was blown dead on forward progress on the initial hit. We would’ve had the ball on the 5-yard line going in last week. But every game seems to be another critical call that’s non-reviewable.”

The key play in the Detroit-Seattle game came when Calvin Johnson fumbled just before reaching the end zone. The ball was knocked out of the back of the end zone by the Seahawks’ K.J. Wright. Rather than flag him for illegally batting the ball, officials ruled the play a touchback.

Detroit, of course, is still smarting from its postseason loss at Dallas last season, when officials picked up a flag in the fourth quarter that had initially been thrown for pass interference on the Cowboys.

“You kind of feel like, man, why does this always happen to Detroit? Why do they treat us like this?” defensive back Glover Quin said. “We’ve just got to make sure that we’re blowing teams out so those calls don’t even affect it.”

Here are a few things to watch when the Lions host Arizona:

RECEIVING STANDOUTS: The 32-year-old Fitzgerald has already caught 30 passes this season for 432 yards, and John Brown has 19 receptions for 228 yards. Before their 24-22 loss to the Rams, the Cardinals had scored 95 points in their previous two games.

BLOCKING: Detroit tried to upgrade the offensive line in the offseason, but the Lions haven’t looked good up front. They’re ranked last in the league in rushing, and Stafford hasn’t had the easiest time setting up and finding receivers.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: The Lions and Cardinals might not be as far apart as their records suggest. Detroit has had to play Seattle and Denver the last two weeks, and Arizona’s wins this season have come against San Francisco, Chicago and New Orleans.

STREAK: The Cardinals have beaten Detroit six straight times, although only one of those games was on the road. Palmer did not even play in last season’s 14-6 victory over the Lions. Backup Drew Stanton threw two touchdown passes for Arizona.

PASS RUSH: Detroit’s only touchdown against Seattle came on a fumble return by the defense, and the Lions had six sacks in the game. DE Ziggy Ansah already has four sacks this season.

“For whatever reason, it really seems like he’s come into his own,” Palmer said. “He came in really young, with not a ton of football experience. Now he’s got that under his belt and he’s playing like it.”


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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