The Detroit Lions managed to battle the Green Bay Packers tooth and nail and thought they had a win put away until the fourth quarter and several blown calls. Detroit lost the game 23-22 on a last second field goal, and frustration was once again palpable.
Detroit dominated early, found a way to hang tough in the middle stages and nearly put away a clutch win, but were once again on the short end in a key battle. As such they lost their four game winning streak against the Packers.
What else was learned from this close battle? Here’s a look at what we learned from a Lions perspective.
1. The Referees Stole the Game
Many are going to say the Lions squandered too many opportunities. While they did, there is no question that the Lions were doomed the most by two horrible hands to the face interpretations in the key moment. That set the Packers up, moved the ball for them and gifted them free first downs. They also gifted the Packers a bogus personal foul on a helmet hit play. The NFL has to figure out how to improve their product in terms of helping the referees out on the field with some type of review. Far too often, plays which are obvious flags aren’t called, and plays which should be let go get flagged. The Lions lost as a direct result of what the officials did. That was a black eye for the league in primetime.
2. Red Zone Issues Hold Detroit Back
The Lions aren’t absolved from their own mistakes even if the referees played the biggest hand in their loss. Detroit cannot continue to settle for field goals and cannot punch touchdowns in while driving. It will get them beat against the best of the best teams they play on their schedule, and once again, this was the case in Green Bay. In future weeks, the Lions need to work harder to put things together in the red area. It’s been the one part of their offense which has led them to struggle.
3. Darrell Bevell Needs to Stay Aggressive
Detroit started the game off on fire with some deep passes, watching Kenny Golladay hit on a long flea flicker and seeing Marvin Hall get loose for a big gain. As the game went on, though, the Lions stopped taking deep shots and kept trying to force their running game. It’s up to Bevell to realize what is working and what isn’t. The Lions needed to find a way to exploit a Green Bay secondary which looked vulnerable early on. Bevell’s job is to stay aggressive and find a weakness to exploit. Far too often in this game, that went by the wayside.
4. All is Not Lost
The Lions lost a key battle, but if they want to be taken seriously, they need to win the war. There are plenty of games left on the schedule, and suddenly, the Minnesota game takes on an extra significance. Slow the Vikings down and play angry enough to win, and Detroit is right back in the race at 3-2-1, even with their loss to Green Bay. Despite the Packers’ 5-1 record, they may not run away with the NFC North. The Lions have to keep playing and see where the chips fall. There are plenty of twists and turns left, and these Lions will still fight teams to the finish for the whole game.
Lion: Matt Prater. When your kicker is the MVP, it’s not a good thing, but Prater almost single handidly won the team the game. He hit bombs from 54 and 51 yards and was consistent on all his kicks, thumping multiple kicks deep. That was great for the Lions to see. Prater is still a game changer for the team.
Stat to note: 50, the number of yards the Packers gained in Detroit penalties. In a one point, one score, nip and tuck type game, this was a major difference. The Packers had only two less penalty yards with 48. Yes, at times the Lions have to be more disciplined, but it merely points out the big role the refs play in the game. 98 yards total in penalties makes games borderline unwatchable.
He said it: “It’s the head and neck area so I’m not really sure. They called it so they saw it.” -Matt Patricia. Detroit’s coach wasn’t exactly thrilled with the call after the fact, but he deferred to the officials and their judgement. When Patricia looks at the plays on tape, he will likely determine their judgement was wrong.