The Detroit Lions had the lead or were tied in the fourth quarter in 11 games last season and went 3-7-1 in those contests. The Lions came up with the phrase “Dagger Time” this offseason to try and rally around being better late in games this season.
But one game into the 2020 season, Detroit’s inability to close out games is back, as they gave up 21 unanswered fourth-quarter points and dropped a potential game-winning touchdown in the final seconds to fall to the Bears, 27-23. The Lions are now 0-1 to start the season.
“We have to coach better,” Lions head coach Matt Patricia said after the game. “We have to finish better.”
Leading 23-6 to start the final quarter, Detroit’s defense gave up three touchdown passes as Mitchell Trubisky hit Jimmy Graham, Javon Wims and Anthony Miller to help secure the comeback victory.
Miller’s was a 27-yard reception with just 41 seconds left in the game.
Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford was able to march Detroit down to the Bears’ 16-yard line with 11 seconds left, and threw a perfect strike to rookie running back D’Andre Swift in the front-left corner of the end zone, but Swift couldn’t hang on to the pass. Stafford threw incomplete in the end zone to wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. to end the game.
There were a number of opportunities for Lions players in all three phases of the game to make a play in the fourth quarter, but they couldn’t get it done.
It was a gut-wrenching loss for the Lions, who have to find a way to come out on the winning end of more of these fourth-quarter games where they hold the lead.
QB Comparison: Stafford finished the game completing 24 of 42 passes for 297 yards with one touchdown and one crucial interception in the fourth quarter. He rushed for 23 yards on five carries and finished the game with a 77.2 passer rating.
Trubisky completed 20-of-36 passes for 242 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for 26 yards on three attempts. He finished with a 104.2 passer rating.
Ejection: Lions veteran linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. was ejected from the game early in the second quarter after contacting an official with his helmet. It looked like Collins was trying to demonstrate to the official how Bears running back David Montgomery lowered his helmet and used the crown of his helmet to contact him, and in doing so, made contact with the official, which is not allowed.
The official talked it over for a bit and gave Collins and unsportsmanlike penalty and ejected him from the game. Collins had three tackles, a quarterback hit and a pass defended at the time of his ejection.
Promising trend: Last season Detroit’s defense ranked 28th in the NFL in third down defense, allowing teams to covert on their third-down opportunities 43.9 percent of the time. Only the Los Angeles Chargers, Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans and Washington Football Team were worse a year ago.
It seems kind of hollow with the way the Bears came back in the fourth quarter, but Chicago was just 2-of-11 in the game on third down.
HIGHLIGHT: Peterson shows burst off left guard for 16-yard run
Worrisome trend: The blown fourth quarter leads is the obvious one.
But the rash of hamstring injuries the Lions have faced over the last week, and into Sunday’s contest, is certainly worrisome too.
Detroit entered the game with five hamstring injuries on Friday’s practice report. Four of those prevented wide receiver Kenny Golladay, cornerback Jeff Okudah, tight end Hunter Bryant and safety C.J. Moore from playing in the game. Wide receiver Danny Amendola was also nursing a hamstring injury this week, but was able to play.
Detroit lost cornerbacks Justin Coleman and Desmond Trufant to hamstring injuries Sunday.
Injury report: Coleman left the game late in the second quarter and did not return. The Lions were already short at cornerback with rookie first-round pick Jeff Okudah inactive. Coleman had defended one pass for the Lions before the injury.
Trufant also injured a hamstring late in the third quarter and did not return. Trufant had two tackles before leaving.
In the end, the Lions were down three of their top four cornerbacks in the fourth quarter.