Detroit stormed out to exactly the type of start we dreamed of: a 21-3 lead midway through the 2nd.
Matthew Stafford took the troops down after the opening kickoff all the way to the end zone. Very attractive targets Megatron and Golden Tate combined with added depth at wide receiver and tight end equaled an unstoppable output. And once Joique Bell and Ameer Abdullah got rolling, everything was clicking.
The rookie Abdullah took a reception from Stafford 21 yards to the house by juking the defender a la Barry Sanders in open space. Then, the defense intercepted Phillip Rivers, and Glover Quinn returned it for a touchdown.
All San Diego mustered was a field goal, and thanks to more sacking of Rivers, our offense used good field position to strike again. This time, #9 found TE Eric Ebron for a 21-3 lead.
AT THIS POINT – the game was ours. There’s a way to ensure victory by keeping the ball on the ground. Our defense continued to hold, giving us more chances that included solid returns. To no avail. Too much passing on first down stopped the clock.
San Diego made it 21-10, and after we stalled again, here they came as the half wound down. Luckily, our cornerback picked them off in the back of the end zone to end the half.
Now, the d had been on the field for a long time. You pick-six and go right back out. They stymied a long drive to end the first half. And then the Chargers used a long drive to keep them out there to begin the 3rd.
Despite limiting them to a field goal (21-13), we were running out of gas. And thanks to terrible play choices (not utilizing Bell or Abdullah), the offense stayed 3-and-out. We held them to 3rd downs and jumped offsides, unable to find our timing. San Diego made it 21-20 before the 4th began.
In the 4th, the Lions finally reached midfield again by utilizing the running backs. But we got greedy when 1-2 field goals could have made the difference.
Furthermore, while we did not utilize any field position from second half turnovers, they did. While our picks were hard fought, we handed them the ball on a missed route. And we traded fumbles, the latter a huge break for Detroit, only to get hung up.
Arguably the biggest douche in the modern era, Rivers scored again against a tired defense on a sloppy field (over 100 degrees). Down 33-21, Detroit finally utilized their arsenal of offensive Gs and unleashed a seemingly effortless two-minute drill.
I noticed this last season. When there’s no thinking involved –> pre-set first quarters, large deficits, small amount of time left, we excel beyond belief. But we don’t know how to play the middle quarters with any balance or how to run out the clock with a big lead.
There’s too much passing without maintaining or establishing the run. We lost 33-28 not due to the defense, but due to a fundamental unappreciation in our playcalling of the backfield.
Let’s learn from it, it’s only week one. But be warned: offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi got pass-happy last year, too. Nip it in the bud NOW, Lions, or it’ll be just like the Tigers and Ausmus all season long.
And FUCK THAT. Bell and Abdullah: Fire and Wind.