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Caldwell sees loftier heights ahead for Lions

1/9/2017 10:16:00 PM
Few people picked the Detroit Lions to make the playoffs this season, but coach Jim Caldwell disputed the notion that his 9-7 team overachieved.

"My only goal is to win the Super Bowl, plain and simple," Caldwell said on the heels of seeing his team lose to the Seattle Seahawks in an NFC wild-card game. "There's nothing else other than that. That's what we set out to do every single year and if we fall short of that I'm disappointed, extremely.

"But no, and not only did they not exceed my expectations, they didn't exceed theirs either because they feel exactly the same way. These guys want to win and are looking forward to an opportunity to do it again at some point."

The Lions finished the season on a disappointing note Saturday with a 26-6 loss to the Seahawks, their fourth straight defeat to a playoff team.

They failed to score a touchdown in the game, didn't even run a play in the red zone and gave up a season-high 177 yards on the ground to a team that ranked 25th in the NFL in rushing. In addition, Detroit self-destructed with four dropped passes and four personal-foul penalties.

Caldwell lamented the "inexplicable" performance, but said the Lions' season-ending four-game losing streak wasn't as revealing as some made it out to be.

Detroit lost its final four games to the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and Seahawks by a combined 59 points, and beat just one team with a winning record (Washington) all season.

The Lions scored just 16 points after halftime in their final four games, with their only touchdown coming on a Hail Mary against the Packers. They didn't force a turnover in their last five games.

"I think obviously we've got a lot of work to do, but I do think that this team, they overcame a lot, they battled through the season and got us to this point, we just couldn't play well enough here at the end to get us a victory," Caldwell said. "There's only going to be one happy team at the end of the year and that's the team that wins it all. That's your goal and effort. That's the key. And we fell short of that, so obviously we're going to be disappointed.

"But nevertheless, I do think we can use this season. There's a lot of things we can build upon, a lot of things we can work to get better and it's a good nucleus of guys that understand really how to battle and fight. And I think we learned some lessons this season so hopefully that'll help us out in the future."

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