The fumble by tight end
"I thought we made a lot of plays, they made a lot of plays, it was a back-and-forth game," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said. "But in the end, they ended up making the key ones that got them the win."
A 32-yard field goal by Shayne Graham ultimately won it for the Texans (10-1), but the Lions failed to put the game away in the fourth quarter when they had the ball at their own 46-yard line, and then again at midfield with a chance to extend their lead to double digits.
They failed to stop a 15-play, 97-yard Texans drive late in the fourth quarter that tied the game at 31-31 and sent the game into overtime.
Simply put, the Lions (4-7) didn't do enough to win.
It's been a common theme all year for a team that hasn't been outscored by more than 10 points in any of their losses. The close games they were able to win last year down the stretch are the same games they're losing this year.
In the end, as has been the story all year, the Lions couldn't make the plays at the end to win the game.
"We've got to find a way to make that one extra play," Schwartz said. "Our margins aren't real high. You said we've played close games. We've had some injury situations that we've been working around, but that's no different than anybody else in the NFL. The Houston Texans found a way to make those plays today and, when we do, we'll be on the winning side of the score."
They didn't get a whole lot of help from the officials, either.
The Texans were handed an 81-yard touchdown on what should have been an eight-yard run by Justin Forsett in the third quarter.
Both Forsett's elbow and knee hit the turf when he was tackled, but he wisely got up and kept running when he didn't hear a whistle. Touchdowns are automatically reviewed, and the play would have been reviewed, and reversed, if Schwartz wouldn't thrown the challenge flag, which is against the rules on scoring plays.
NFL rules say that when you throw a challenge flag on a play that is automatically reviewed, not only is the team penalized 15 yards, but the play is no longer reviewable.
"I know that we can't challenge a turnover or a scoring play and I overreacted," said Schwartz. "I was so mad that they didn't call him down – because he was obviously down on the field. I had the flag out of my pocket before he even scored the touchdown and that's all my fault. I overreacted in that situation and I cost us a touchdown."
It didn't cost the Lions the game, though. It'll be one of the big storylines coming out of the game, but the Lions had plenty of other opportunities to win after that, even though that was a huge momentum shift in the game turning a 10-point Lions lead into three-point game at the time.
Stafford finished 31-of-61 passes for 441 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. He became the second-fastest player to 11,000 career-passing yards (Kurt Warner), doing it in his first 40 games.
Broyles had his first-career 100-yard game, finishing with 126 yards on six catches.
In the end, though, it still wasn't enough to win.