A four-point loss to the Chicago Bears. A three-point loss at Washington. A one-point loss at Green Bay.
The Detroit Lions 3-8-1 and eliminated from playoff contention. Yet they've been competitive in every game this season, with several narrow losses and just one loss by more than a touchdown: a 42-30 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in October.
So, yes, that's encouraging.
But as the old saying goes, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. And that's the discouraging part.
"Obviously, you can go glass half-full, half-empty, however you want," coach Matt Patricia said, Monday. "I think for us there are positives in all of it and negatives in all of it. We try to make sure we understand all of those and explain them and teach it and learn from it from that standpoint.
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"You'd certainly rather be in close games than not close games, that's for sure. Obviously, playing in every single game where you have a chance to win, that's obviously important from that standpoint. You just want to go out there and win. I think you can look at it from both ways."
There hasn't been a consistent thread in the Lions' losses. The past two games featured blown fourth-quarter leads. But in the three losses before that, the Lions blew early leads.
"I think if it was one exact, specific, one thing, I think we would do everything possible to fix that one thing," Patricia said. "I think for us it's been the inconsistency of the different things throughout the course of the season that have caused us in those situations not to be able to win.
"We're all trying to fix those the best that we can, and obviously put ourselves in a situation where we can win those games. Like I said, the one thing about this team that is really impressive to me is the way that they fight, the way that they compete and the way that they are trying to grind through every single game. From that standpoint, we have a chance."
Ultimately, that may be what's most beguiling for Patricia and his team. It's close. But just not close enough.
"I mean I think in most situations whether it's business or football or whatever it is, I think that last inch is always the hardest, right?" he said. "I think that's what they usually say. There are probably a lot of things in those situations that come up that you need to kind of be able to break through and push through. We're close, but we're not there, so we have to fix all of it, no matter what the situation is."
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