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After another loss, Lions could end up starting season 0-5

DETROIT -- There were glimmers of hope Sunday night for the Detroit Lions, but each one of them was quickly erased by something else going wrong or stalling in a 24-12 loss to Denver.

Offensive progression? Sure, but then a false start or an offensive pass interference call wiped that out. Defensive improvement? Yeah, that was probably the biggest bright spot, but Darius Slay got caught in single coverage a couple of times, letting Broncos receivers make big plays on him and extending possessions.

Then there are the special teams, which had miscue after miscue Sunday night.

All of it leads to this simple thing -- the Lions are just not a good football team right now and are in danger of seeing their season slip away less than four games into the year.

What it means: The Lions are looking at a real possibility of going 0-5 to start the season. They’ve dropped three in a row and have to go to Seattle next Monday night. Then, the Lions play Arizona -- a team that looks like it might be one of the best in the league -- on a short week coming back from the West Coast at home. As mentioned above, there were some positive signs for Detroit, particularly defensively and how the Lions used Ameer Abdullah and Calvin Johnson in spots, but overall this is just a team still trying to find something that works consistently.

What were they thinking? Someone on the Lions clearly made a mistake -- or just didn’t know the rules Sunday night. An illegal formation call on a missed 53-yard field goal attempt by Brandon McManus was nullified by having seven guys line up on one side of the ball, which is against the rules. It gave Denver another chance at the field goal five yards closer -- an attempt McManus made. It was just one of three bad special-teams gaffes, including a blocked PAT and a missed two-point conversion.

One reason to get excited: Abdullah once again played well and the Lions found ways to use him in space. He had a touchdown reception on a nifty angle route and also ran fairly well when given the ball. He is the future running back of this franchise.

One reason to panic: The Lions can’t do anything consistently at all, especially on offense. They showed no urgency even in a two-minute situation and dumped off to Theo Riddick over and over again. The offense just has not looked consistent at all.

Fantasy watch: Eric Ebron continues to be a decent fantasy play at tight end. He didn’t have a touchdown Sunday, but he had four catches for 61 yards, the third straight game where he was one of the Lions’ most effective options.

Ouch: Right guard Larry Warford, who missed the season opener with an ankle injury, suffered another one Sunday. He was deemed probable to return but never did. He has been the Lions’ best offensive lineman the past two seasons and it forced Detroit to go with Laken Tomlinson and Manny Ramirez at guard.

Stafford to Stafford: An oddity in the third quarter. Stafford threw a pass on a third-and-11 that was batted up in the air by a Denver’s Antonio Smith. Stafford then grabbed the ball in the air, catching his own throw before being dragged down for a 6-yard loss.

Bell not the answer: Joique Bell had a touchdown, but he was once again mostly ineffective. A week after averaging a half-yard per carry against Minnesota, Bell had 0.6 yards per carry against the Broncos.