Sunday's loss was tough timing for a learning opportunity

Posted Oct 22, 2013

Rookie mistakes can be great opportunities to learn as a player, but it was tough timing for the Lions on Sunday

Sam MartinP Sam Martin (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

Coaches hate when learning opportunities come at the expense of potential victories, but the 28-yard shanked punt by rookie Sam Martin at the end of Sunday's game is one of those moments.

Martin's kick with 34 seconds left set the Bengals up at their own 49-yard line and led to a game-winning, 54-yard field goal three plays later as time expired.

Martin took full responsibility for the blunder after the game.

"I've got no real excuse for it," he said. "In a situation like that, you are expecting a heavy rush and that's what I was expecting and I rushed myself to prevent a block and just pulled it."

This is where the learning moment comes in for special teams coordinator John Bonamego.

"You look at the time left in the game and you're certainly on alert anytime it's the end of a half or end of game situation," he said.

"But we also have to have awareness and know that they tipped their hand and showed us a return look."

The Bengals shifted to a six-box set, which is a return front, with two defenders on the gunners outside and a return man deep.

That's not to say he should have taken his time in that situation, because punts get blocked when a blocker loses a one-on-one blocking battle all the time, but he didn't have to place any extra pressure on himself to rush the kick.

It's a learning moment for a young player that unfortunately came during a loss at home.

As far as the blocked field goal at the end of the first half, Bonamego called it "Unacceptable."

It's the second time this year the Lions have had a field goal blocked. The first came in the fourth quarter in Arizona off the edge and the latest one right up the middle vs. Cincinnati.

Both were huge plays is eventual losses.

"You can't be a team that competes for a championship and give up blocked kicks, whether it's punts, field goals or extra points. Bottom line. Period," Bonamego said.

A missed assignment allowed the kick to be blocked, but Bonamego said it's an entire team issue.

"You have to execute the little things," he said. "There's not a lot of moving parts in there. You have to be disciplined every time out and every man across the board has a responsibility.

"Sometimes you can get away with mistakes, but in this league, when people find the soft spot, they are going to attack it, and it caught up with us in the worst possible way at the worst possible time."