The Saints are the NFC’s No. 3 seed with a 13-3 record, but they’re the toughest matchup in the NFC for the Lions because of the way Brees spreads the ball to his talented teammates.
Brees burned the Lions for 342 yards and three TDs in a 31-17 win in New Orleans in Game 12.
Q. What made the biggest statement in Sunday’s game?
A. Nothing defined the outcome more than the answer coach Jim Schwartz gave in his postgame radio interview when he was asked if he was disappointed.
“I’m not disappointed,” Schwartz said. “I’m angry.”
His answer said more than the stats, penalties or missed plays on offense, defense or special teams.
Q. Why would Schwartz be angry?
A. A better question to ask is why wouldn’t he be angry? Just a week earlier, the Lions shut down the Chargers and perennial Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers in a 38-10 victory that clinched a playoff spot.
On Sunday, second-string quarterback Matt Flynn burned them for 480 yards and six touchdowns.
Schwartz cut his postgame radio interview short, but before he departed he listed a litany of areas where he said the defense fell short.
Coverage, man-to-man coverage, blitzing, tackling and rushing the passer were all on the list.
Schwartz didn’t mention penalties (11 for 101 yards), but that was only because he ended the interview before he got to it.
Q. Does the loss spoil the Lions’ season, or the performance of Matthew Stafford and the offense Sunday?
A. It doesn’t spoil the season, but it takes away the glow of the ending.
Making the playoffs with a 10-6 record exceeded the expectations most people had for the Lions at the start of the season. But by the end of the season, expectations have changed, and so have the stakes.